FRENCH RIVIERA: As tempting as the giant pies are at industry favorite Restaurant La Pizza at the Vieux Port during the festival, it's criminal not to plan at least one gastronomic trip to the Michelin star-studded Riviera. Famed Le Colombe d'Or (1 place du Generale-du-Gaulle), despite being in touristy St. Paul de Vence, is worth visiting for both its food and its art collection including works by Chagall and Modigliani, while La Place de Mougins (41 place du Commandant Lamy) was a favorite of Picasso (and now Lindsay Lohan and Michael Caine) and sits in the hilltop medieval village of Mougins. Expect a minimum bill of $350 for two including a vintage wine.
Venture to the stunning Vallauris Golfe-Juan beach to dine at Tetou (boulevard des Freres Roustan), where DreamWorks Animation will hold its filmmaker dinner this year. Last year, Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt enjoyed the bouillabaisse. Or take the scenic drive to La Passagere at the Hotel Belles Rives (33 boulevard Edouard Baudoin) on Cap d'Antibes. The hotel where F. Scott Fitzgerald once wrote Tender Is the Night now draws Kevin Spacey and Annie Lennox.
If you want country-Provencal, try La Bastide Saint-Antoine (48 avenue Henri-Dunant), a one-star gem in Grasse by master chef Jacques Chibois. Guests enjoy such dishes as bass with vanilla olive oil on a flowery terrace with a staggering sea view. Two-star Le Saint-Martin at the Chateau Saint-Martin & Spa (2490 avenue des Templiers) in Vence ensures privacy for the Croisette-weary at a new chef's table located in a tower. "The food is drool-inducing -- love the roasted smoked country bacon -- and the service is, for France, surprisingly attentive," says TV writer Kevin Rooney ('Til Death), who owns a house in nearby Nice. "Seeing waiters moving briskly to and from tables like living beings was refreshing."
Recent hotel openings have ratcheted up the already potent glam factor of France's original beach town. Hotel Sezz (route des Salins, 48 miles from Cannes; rooms from $590) is a magnet for the beautiful and decadent, with its Dom Perignon champagne bar and buzzy Colette restaurant terrace. Kube Hotel (route de St. Tropez, rooms from $350) is the Riviera's new party place, morphing into a nightclub after dark with not one but three bars: Martini Bar, Ice Bar and Skybar for "soul-stirring views," says Juliet Kinsman of hotel experts Mr & Mrs Smith. For a romantic dinner, try Alain Ducasse's Spoon (avenue Paul Signac) inside the bougainvillea-clad Hotel Byblos, while a peaceful stay can be had at La Reserve Ramatuelle (chemin de la Quessine, rooms from $565), offering a 10,000-square-foot spa in the pine-dotted hills. But quality company and comestibles reign supreme: "My favorite thing about St. Tropez," says Safe producer Lawrence Bender, "are the beautiful outdoor restaurants, with long lunches drinking rosé with your friends from around the world." Adds jewelry designer Loree Rodkin: "I love the flea markets every Tuesday. And you can helicopter into St. Tropez for dinner from Cannes."
For all the media attention and famous part-time residents (John Malkovich, Johnny Depp, Ridley Scott), Provence is still an amazingly effective place to duck away for a relaxed getaway. Paradou, for instance, is a minuscule, lavender-scented village hidden near St. Remy -- and now home to the exceedingly cosmopolitan Hotel B Design & Spa (chemin de Bourgeac, about 130 miles from Cannes; rooms from around $240), which opened in 2011. With just 14 suites and interiors by design superstar Christophe Pilet, it's all whites, grays, browns and blacks and is virtually ornamentation-free, giving it a minimalist sophistication. The cutting-edge spa includes a hammam, or Turkish bath.
Even more secluded, Artishow (9 rue Denfert Rochereau, rooms from $394), which has been an inn off and on since the 16th century, sits in a glorious position practically dangling over the Arquet Creek, a branch of the Sorgue River. Presided over by art dealer Yves de Montigny, the townhouse has just four rooms and features cool Verner Panton and Arne Jacobsen furnishings and a sleek indoor swimming pool.
As for restaurants, Bistrot du Paradou (57 avenue de la Vallee des Baux), where you might just spot Jean Reno or French president Nicolas Sarkozy himself, is as close as you'll get to power-insider dining in Provence. Afterward, head into St. Remy de Provence for cocktails and a movie at Hotel Les Ateliers de L'Image (36 boulevard Victor Hugo), in a converted Art Deco cinema, which has hosted an exhibit of Jessica Lange's ethereal photos.