Voulez-vous Palais avec moi?

A closer look at Cannes’ Palace

As Ben mentioned in The Good, The Bad and the MIPIM, the role of The Neighbourhood at MIPIM will be to look for partners, brands, cities and projects that we feel we can work with to help bring their agenda and vision to life. But with conversations focused solely on the event itself, have we forgotten all about the exquisite setting?

The Palace

The Palais des Festivals et des Congrès is renowned for hosting the Cannes Film Festival but since 1965 it has also been used for business conventions, such as MIPIM

From a design and architectural perspective, the Palais des Festivals et de Congrès should be giving us the tingles, not only because some of the greatest film-makers, actors and musicians have walked on that same ground over the years, but also because the Palais is, in fact, a palace. When I think of palaces, my mind travels to Versailles or to German forests decorated by fairytale-like castles. There is nothing explicitly royal or magical about Cannes’ Palais, however if we look closely, it has everything that a (modern and embellished) palace needs to deserve such a title.

Every year, the Palais welcomes around 120 shows with more than 60,000 spectators; 45 professional events, generating over 800 million Euros of economic spinoffs and 17,000 jobs. It needs to be a chameleonic structure that can accommodate cultural, technological and business-related events, while still being aesthetically pleasing.

The Design

The Palais that we know today was built in 1979 and has been refurbished and renovated several times since then. One of my favourite areas is the The Foyer of the Grand Auditorium Louis Lumière, which is as luminous as it sounds. The foyer features a fully glazed, white interior, with a twisted double staircase that mimics the curvature of the ceiling with a shimmering, pearly-white entrance overlooking the beautiful French Riviera.

Once you enter the foyer, the Grand Auditorium itself is a work of art. In 2013 the colour shades, materials and lighting were redesigned, the carpet was changed and 2,300 armchairs were specially created. These bi-chromatic seats with slightly curved backrests soften the overview of the auditorium, transforming it into a calm, red & black ocean.

Lastly, the exterior of what I consider the ‘main’ Palais (where the red carpet for the Film Festival is located) deserves a mention. Built on the site of the municipal casino, the structure looks like it could belong on Las Vegas Boulevard. Designed in modernist style by Sir Hubert Bennett and François Druet, the Palais opened in 1982 and was restructured 17 years later with the construction of the Espace Riviera, a new space of 10,000 sqm.

It might not be an iconic piece of architecture and it could also be quite difficult to recognise at a first glance when compared to other symbolic structures, but with a space of 25,000 sqm for exhibitions, numerous rooms and 18 auditoriums, the Palais is most definitely a modern palace. So whilst we make our way through the sea of stands next week, let’s take a good look at the Palais and remember why we do what we do best.


Camilla Mazzitelli

Date published

08 March 2016