Chalkmarks: My very own Cannes fizz festival

EVERY bubbly mouthful makes me think “Ahh, this is the life”. Here in the Bar L’Amiral everything has a certain je ne sais quoi – from the fancy champagne flutes delivered on silver platters to the jazz singer, and pianist tinkling in the background.

I don’t spot Steven Spielberg or Quentin Tarantino but there’s still time.

Thanks to the Cannes Film Festival, what was once a quaint seaside village in the south of France has become a bustling epicentre for the rich and famous. It might be small but it has the buzz of a city the size of Paris.

I’m staying in the five-star Hotel Martinez, which is something of a celebrity hangout. Its 409 rooms have seen many famous guests including Woody Allen, Bruce Willis and Brad Pitt – not only with his ex-wife Angelina Jolie but his previous ex-wife Jennifer Aniston.

Chalkmarks: The Cannes Film Festival in Cannes
The Cannes Film Festival in Cannes
Chalkmarks: the legendary Boulevard de la Croisette
The legendary Boulevard de la Croisette
Chalkmarks: The five-star Hotel Martinez
The five-star Hotel Martinez

I keep an eye on the door to see if the next person to walk in is some Hollywood superstar arriving in a chauffeur driven Bentley, or a billionaire with a yacht moored in the harbour.

That’s why when it comes to staying in Cannes, you want to be on the legendary Boulevard de la Croisette.

I could spend a whole holiday just strolling up and down this seafront road that hugs the Côte d’Azur for about two miles.

The palatial white hotels have their names spelled out in huge capital letters on their roofs reminiscent of the Hollywood sign in California – a nod no doubt to the town’s association with the silver screen.

Every May during the festival it becomes a catwalk of fame with actors and directors flitting between lunch at the Carlton and dinner at the Majestic.

Chalkmarks: Stunning view of Cannes from Le Suquet
Stunning view of Cannes from Le Suquet
Chalkmarks: Impressive street art depicting the stars of the silver screen
Impressive street art depicting the stars of the silver screen
Chalkmarks: Some the giant murals in tribute to cinema
Some the giant murals in tribute to cinema

Walk one way and you head towards the harbour, go the other and you hit all the bling-bling designer shops selling watches, handbags, jewellery, belts, clothes and shoes – where you can indulge in your own Julia Roberts-inspired Pretty Woman-style shopping spree.

Further along is the Palais de Festival et des Congres de Cannes auditorium and then another harbour.

Now if I had a starring role in a hit film here, I could easily make the Martinez my second home. With its sweeping staircase, two-Michelin starred restaurants and heated pool I’d never want to leave.

My room has a huge bathroom, the plush chaise longue is big enough to sleep on and the bed has so many pillows I barely want to get up in the morning.

I think of all the A-listers who must have slept here – this could have been the boudoir of former Desperate Housewife star Eva Longoria or even Madonna. Now, it’s mine.

The view from the balcony is of the sand, sea and sun, which is perfect for stargazing although there’s still no sightings of le Beckhams.

During the festival the hotel prices skyrocket but for the rest of the year, these chic French chambres can be booked at discount prices.

And apparently there is even life beyond the Croisette. So after plenty of fruity fizz and a few crème brûlée’s, I reluctantly put away my heels and dig out my flat shoes to spend a morning walking through the 400-year-old cobbled lanes and up the hill to Le Suquet, where it is tranquil compared with the bustle below.

Then it’s up the 109 steps of the 11th century watchtower for a panoramic view of Cannes and the harbour with its multimillion-pound yachts.

If you’ve got some time to spare you can try to spot the huge murals painted on the sides of seemingly random buildings. There are more than 15 including Charlie Chaplin, Marilyn Monroe and even Mickey Mouse.

Every visit should also include the half-hour boat trip to Sainte Marguerite Island with its mysterious tale of The Man in the Iron Mask – a real life story turned into the 1998 film starring Leonardo diCaprio.

The man was a prisoner sent to the island in 1687 for 11 years but to this day no one knows who he was.

While more than 60 names have been put forward to his possible identity, it’s widely believed he was the twin brother of King Louis XIV but then no one can be sure.

The prison is now a museum where its most famous inmate, whose face was hidden under black velvet, was held.

To explore more of the French Riviera, the city of Nice is just along the coast.

For a chance to dine at a Michelin-starred restaurant there’s Aphrodite, which won’t break the bank.

As well as serving up everything you’d expect from French cuisine, chef David Faure’s has an alternative menu with worms and insects.

After a stroll through the city stocking up on olive oil and the local Bellet wine I head back to the Croisette.

I slip into my heels, toss back my hair and quaff a glass of pink rosé to show everyone that the showbiz royalty is back in town.

Yoo-hoo over here!

Chalkmarks: everything you’d expect from French cuisine
Everything you’d expect from French cuisine
Chalkmarks Cannes
Chalkmarks Cannes
Chalkmarks Cannes
Chalkmarks: Celebrity hangout the Hotel Martinez
Celebrity hangout the Hotel Martinez

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