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CANNES -- It smells like global financial crisis all along the Croisette. Vanity Fair's infamous party is canceled. Beaches along the Croisette are empty. And, let's be honest, who really has the energy to venture out to the Hotel du Cap after a nonstop day of meetings and screenings? But have no fear, the Parisians are here. From the moment the lights go up in the Palais to the moment when jury president Isabelle Huppert hands out the Palme d'Or, Paris' hottest nightspots will invade Cannes beaches and buildings for 10 days of champagne, celebs and celebration. Even if you can't pronounce "croissant," our guide will help put a French twist on your nightly entertainment.
While Paris may be a big city, filled with myriad cultural events and goings-on, everyone knows there's really only one place to see and be seen, namely Le Baron. Founded by Lionel Bensemoun and Andre Saraiva, known locally as "La Clique," Le Baron will once again bring its Parisian cool to the Riviera to invade the Hotel 3.14 during the festival. The hot spot will play host to private parties celebrating films in selection and, as usual, will be the spot to hit up just before heading back to your hotel room. Le Baron is pretty much the Paris "scene" transported to Cannes, filled with Parisian hipsters who migrate to Cannes to party in the southern version of their favorite nightclub. The club will start off strong this year with a launch party for Belvedere X complete with a performance from Blondie's Debbie Harry and follow that with high-profile events both at the 3.14 and at the Ballroom, a villa co-sponsored with Wild Bunch that will house at least seven parties during the fest. Le Baron also has partnered with Vitamin Water and Colette to host a daytime beauty spot and "recovery beach." Expect to see jury member Asia Argento, MK2 topper Nathanael Karmitz, DJ Mark Ronson and a hodgepodge of trendy young French producers in the mix.
The VIP Room, pronounced "le veep" by the French, is a nightclub with locations in both St. Tropez and Paris, that shacks up on the far end of the Croisette at the Palm Beach every year for the festival. The legendary St. Tropez location attracts a jet-set crowd of wealthy businessmen and celebs during its ephemeral June-September opening hours, while the Paris spot, recently re-opened on the rue de Rivoli, is host to movie premiere parties and fashion events all year round. The clubs are owned by party titan Jean Roch, who has become a celebrity himself over the years. For the 10th year in a row, the "veep" will head to Cannes to host a slew of parties, including a live performance by Dita von Teese on May 18, a concert from Solange Knowles on the 20th and a blowout bash to celebrate Christian Audigier's birthday on the 21st complete with rumored appearances by Michael Jackson, Diana Ross and Beyonce. The fest will end with an Audi event featuring Will.I.Am from the Black Eyed Peas on closing night. Compared to the other nightspots in Cannes, the VIP Room is by far the largest, and plans to welcome at least 3,000, as they describe, "handpicked, privileged guests" per night.
Le ChaCha Club Cannes
Le ChaCha Club opened in Paris midsummer 2008 and has been attracting a swarm of night owls ever since. Co-owned by Pathe superproducer Thomas Langmann, the ChaCha has inevitably secured visits from the Gallic film industry. This year, for the first time, ChaCha will be setting up shop along the Croisette at the ChaCha Beach Cannes. By day, the restaurant will become a professional meeting place for business lunches or interviews, and the library and lounge area will house press junkets and photocalls and allow journalists or businesspeople to work on their computers with free wireless. By night, the ChaCha will turn its lounge/music room (complete with piano and other musical gear designed for visitors to play with) into a nightclub to host a high profile list of parties celebrating notable films in selection at the festival. ChaCha has also hired ex-editor in chief of French movie magazine Studio, Michel Rebichon to bring his A-list group of famous friends to the beachside location across from the Carlton. "We want to do something really focused on cinema and nourish intimate relationships among film industry players in the midst of the Cannes craziness," he explained. Expect to see Langmann, Pedro Almadovar and his favorite Almodo-star Penelope Cruz.
Like its Parisian predecessors, the Costes is never clear in Cannes. The Croisette beach restaurant, brought to you by the brothers Costes, whose vast kingdom comprises multiple Paris restaurants, is always awash with the creme-de-la-creme of the Gallic film biz. Sponsored by France Telecom subsidiary Orange since last year, the relatively new Costes beach is open from 9 a.m.-1 a.m., for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Run by Alex Denis and Delphine Auger, the Costes beachfront restaurant serves about 400 guests per day and shuts its doors for private parties on select evenings. Last year, the beach was host to parties for Dany Boon's boxoffice hit "Welcome to the Sticks," opening film "Blindness" and Steven Spielberg's "Indiana Jones 4." This year, the beach will host a party for Johnny To's "Vengeance" starring legendary Gallic singer Johnny Hallyday, a lunch for 160 producers one day, and several press junkets and cocktails. However, in Cannes tradition, the Orange Costes beach is open only to those equipped with a special badge and reservations need to be made in advance since the beach gets booked quickly. Those making it inside might watch Sophie Marceau enjoy a crab salad or spy on Monica Belluci and Vincent Cassel as they drink glasses of Chablis next to Charlotte Gainsbourg.
La Patio (Canal Plus)
From 7-9 p.m. every night during the Festival de Cannes, the crew of nightly talk show "Le Grand Journal" is hanging around or on the big stage in front of the Martinez. But where do France's most chic TV personalities go when the lights go down on their set? -- all the way down La Croisette to the Pantiero, where a huge Canal Plus "Patio" is set up for the duration of the festival. By day, meetings are held and by night, the Patio turns into the hottest ticket in town. La Patio is perhaps the only place to dine in Cannes that doesn't take reservations. The "by invite only" HQ of the country's classiest network offers guests a scenic view of the water as they enjoy a 3-course buffet-style meal catered by Le Notre. La Patio attracts a who's who of the French film and TV world, and also often extends invites to A-list U.S. and foreign talent who make their way to the "Grand Journal" stage. La Patio is the place to ask Alain Delon to please pass you the salt, or reminisce with "Le Grand Journal" host Michel Denisot about what crazy antics went down on the show earlier that evening.
Le Jimmy'z by Albane
Looking for your favorite A-list French movie star after 11 p.m.? He or she is most likely at Jimmy'z by Albane, smoking a cigarette on the outdoor terrace or inside bumping and grinding on the dance floor with all the other B-list talent. While Jimmy'z isn't the Cannes offshoot of a Parisian nightclub, it's pretty much the HQ for all the VIPs (Very Important Parisians) in town for the fest. These VIPs will be among the few equipped with the coveted "Carte Jimmy'z" (Jimmy'z card). Jimmy'z is issuing only 350 membership cards this year, all of which will be personalized and valid only for one person. Jimmy'z has a quota of 300 people per night so with 30,000 festgoers, the word "non" is pronounced many times during the course of an evening. For the sixth consecutive year, nightlife queen Albane Cleret will expand her throne to the nightclub located just next to the Palais. Gallic TV personality Ariel Wizman will be DJing nightly, as will Martin Solveig, and French clothing brand Zadig & Voltaire is planning a series of musical concerts to celebrate the launch of their new music label. Expect to see, among others, young starlette Melanie Laurent of "Inglourious Basterds" and Anna Mouglalis, star of closing night's "Coco Chanel & Igor Stravinsky." And don't be surprised to see international A-listers such as Harvey Weinstein, Sharon Stone or Tarantino. "We're starting to open up more internationally. At first, it was mostly French, but now it's internationalizing because producers and directors are interested in meeting talent," Cleret said.