Recently, the effervescence of conventions and international markets has added its bustle to the Festival’s extravagance which draws larger and larger crowds to have a closer look at the ‘stars’. At the same time, in the more peaceful west of the city, hyper-sophisticated avant-garde craft are developed and finetuned to go out into Space to have a much closer look at the stars. Near us, but in another world, away from media hype and the hectic throngs, on the Isle of Saint-Honorat, Cistercian monks continue to pursue their immutable life, in silence, made up of hard work, prayer and piety.
Cannes is constantly changing. Its municipal leaders have attempted, with varying degrees of success, to manage this permanent mutation. The present team, under the vigilant, wise, persistent and very effective guidance of the Mayor Bernard Brochand, who is also a Deputy in the French Parliament, is ardently and competently striving to make life even more harmonious for the people of Cannes so our city can be on a par with its planetary reputation.
Today, everyone sees Cannes as the world capital of cinema, the city of spangles and starlets, gold and yachts (often immobile), glitter and stars. It is a paradisiacal holiday venue for the wealthy and mighty, the stir of international conventions and also, in summer, the thrill of holidaymakers treading on the red carpet of the Festival Hall steps, with their head in the stars.
Cannes experienced restrictions, occupation - Italian first, then German - and, in August 1944, its last attack from the sea. During the Allied Landing on the coast of Provence, a great actor who would have been likelier to visit Cannes for the Film Festival, bombarded our shores from his US Navy ship Prince Stewart of which he was the captain. His name was Douglas Fairbanks Jr and he was a friend who was there to help us.
With the return of peace, the Film Festival would be able to start. It would thrive and develop and, driven by the mad popularity of celluloid over the years, it has become the world’s premier event after the Olympic Games.
The name ‘La Croisette’ comes from the small cross on Palm Beach, the point from which pilgrims set off for the Island of Saint Honorat. The neighbourhood was a marshland until 1870, the year in which proper urban development commenced.
A famous soap factory, Girard, was located near to the Church of Notre Dame de Bon Voyage. The waste it discarded eventually formed a sea wall, along which the good people of Cannes took to strolling in the evening. This sparked the idea of constructing a promenade. It was called the ‘Croisette’ then ‘Boulevard de l’Impératrice’ and then the ‘Croisette’ again.