'Real euphoria': Cannes luxury back after pandemic pause

·3-min read
The Palme d'Or trophy is pictured at Chopard Jewellery House on May 10, 2022 in Meyrin near Geneva ahead of the 75th Cannes Film Festival

After celebrations took a hit during the past two years of Covid-19, this year's Cannes Film Festival promises a return to its traditional wild festivities and displays of exorbitant wealth.

"There is real euphoria... people want human contact," Romain Benichou of rental firm Century 21, told AFP.

But buying your way into the best parties doesn't come cheap, with the fanciest villas going for up to 400,000 euros ($421,000) for the fortnight of the event.

That is a small price to pay for the movie moguls and big brands keen to rub shoulders with the glamorous attendees of the world's favourite film shindig.

That is especially true after the 2020 edition was cancelled due to Covid, and last year's was forced to go ahead under strict health protocols that meant the parties were far more muted.

Largely back to normal this year, the French Riviera town is hoping to enjoy the windfall.

The 2019 edition was estimated to have generated 196 million euros ($206 million) for Cannes as it welcomed 125,000 festivalgoers and 12,000 film professionals.

That created 90,000 overnight stays and 2,200 jobs during the event, according to local authorities.

They did not give the figures for 2021, but with American and Asian delegations largely absent and attendees subject to masks and daily Covid-19 tests, they are almost certain to have been far lower.

- 'Bursting' ports -

Things are looking up, though.

"We are not necessarily back to the budgets of five or six years ago, but there is a recovery," said Stephane Grosso, head of Nice-based events firm Terre d'Evenements, adding that he had just come back from scouting a villa for an "important influencer".

"It's changed a lot because last year was bleak," he added.

One sour note for those facilitating the ultra-wealthy will be the lack of Russians.

The festival has explicitly said that Russians with ties to the government are not welcome at the festival or the industry marketplace that runs alongside it.

A spokesman for the market said only "a few Russians without links to the government or public sector" would be present this year, compared with hundreds traditionally.

"There were always one or two Russians organising a big party on the beach," said Grosso.

"But the return of the Americans will make up for it."

The promise of Americans also has ice cream makers Magnum, one of the festival's sponsors, in a chipper mood and they are hosting a private beach party on May 19 featuring singer Kylie Minogue to celebrate.

"All the big producers are present this year in Cannes," gushed press officer Frederic Henry.

"Not just Tom Cruise... but also Disney and Netflix."

Liberty Yachts, a rental firm, said the two ports in Cannes were "full to bursting".

"The American clientele prefer to rent large private boats during the festival -- it's more discreet than a large hotel," said owner Fabrice Viard.

Not that there is any room in hotels.

Such is the demand, said Viard, that even a former Miss France was unable to secure a room and was forced to book a place in St Tropez, an hour away.

"There isn't a single hotel room or Airbnb left in Cannes," he said.

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