Think of Cannes. The cinema and the glamorous Cannes Film Festival immediately springs to mind, right? The picturesque harborside town on the French Riviera is famous for its annual 2-week film festival, which attracts glittering crowds of celebrities, filmmakers and critics. Even if you're not walking the red carpet yourself, you can still soak up some of that star-studded glamour and explore the city's long association with the world of film (what the French call le septième art, 'the seventh art'). Cannes is filled with cinematic attractions that give you a taste of Hollywood – including a series of giant murals on walls and building façades across the town depicting famous performers, characters and scenes from films. Read on to find out more about this spectacular public art, and where you can dabble in the movie magic during your stay in Cannes.
Movie-star attractions in Cannes
There's plenty for cinephiles to enjoy in Cannes, whether you're visiting during the Cannes Film Festival or any other time of year. Although the festival's screenings and parties are by invitation only, you can watch all the excitement and glittering fashion on the red carpet outside the Palais des Festivals and des Congrès, which hosts the festival – located just a 5-minute walk from the Radisson Blu 1835 Hotel & Thalasso in Cannes. The public is also welcome to attend the free open-air cinema at the Cinéma de la Plage, which screens a number of classic films in a scenic beachfront setting.
And when the festival isn't on, you can visit the Palais des Festivals on a guided tour. Start by posing for a photo on the front steps and imagining you're facing a sea of photographers, then head inside to admire the auditorium, stroll across the stage and pretend you're accepting your own award.
A stroll down Cannes' Walk of Fame
Next on your cinematic tour of Cannes, check out the 150 celebrity handprints along the nearby Allée des Étoiles du Cinéma, the town's walk of fame, before strolling down the palm tree-lined Boulevard de la Croisette, home to countless designer boutiques, stunning art deco buildings and refreshing sea views – the perfect movie-star hangout.
Psst! If you're really looking for movie star treatment, then why not go for a French Riviera spa getaway? Check out our guide to relaxation in Cannes!
Wall art: an homage to Cannes' cinema history
As you explore the town, keep an eye out for the striking film murals, which were commissioned by the Municipality of Cannes and have been gradually popping up across the town since 2002. Each illustrates a movie-related scene or theme, as a way of highlighting Cannes' longstanding relationship with cinema, and has been carefully designed to complement the architecture of the building where it's located.
The result is an unexpected art exhibition that feels like a chance encounter everyone from Marilyn Monroe and James Dean to Mickey Mouse and Batman making an appearance – or a glimpse of a historic scene from cinema's thrilling past. There are around 15 murals in total, but here are a few of our favorites and where you can find them:
Place Cornut-Gentille, 2 quai Saint-Pierre
A great introduction to the dazzling breadth of film, this colorful ensemble on the side of the bus station features a wide array of characters from some of the 20th century's most popular movies. Spot everyone from C-3PO and R2-D2 from the Star Wars films, to Jack and Rose from Titanic by way of Roger and Jessica Rabbit.
10 Boulevard Vallombrosa
Come face to face with the celebrated comic in his most famous role as the Tramp, alongside the Kid, in this towering ode to the glory days of silent film.
Les baisers de cinema (Cinema kisses)
Boulevard de la République
For anyone who enjoys a good love story, this striking mural showcases some of the greatest on-screen kisses, from the world's most romantic films – think Humphrey Bogart and Lauren Bacall in To Have and Have Not, Clark Gable and Vivien Leigh in Gone With the Wind, and Marcello Mastroianni and Anita Ekberg in La Dolce Vita.
Cannes movie car museum
Parking Berthelot-ex Diabolika
Admire a lineup of the most famous cars in film along the side of this parking lot, featuring vehicles from hits such as Ghostbusters, Mad Max and Starsky and Hutch.
3 Boulevard Victor Tuby
Sword in hand, actor Gérard Philipe seems to burst out of the wall in the ultimate display of swashbuckling style. Born in Cannes, the talented, hardworking actor appeared in more than 30 films before his untimely death at the age of just 37. This mural is a fitting tribute to his legacy in French cinema.