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The Petit Majestic has little of the ambiance its name suggests. But the scruffy bar at 6 Rue Tony Allard, which takes bets and plays horseracing on the big screen by day, transforms into the biggest — and loudest — see-and-be-seen spot during Cannes.
That could change this year, with new city restrictions forcing owner Cedric Aich to close soon after midnight.
In the past, Aich has kept the bar open 23 hours a day for the fortnight, closing at 6 a.m. for an hour of cleaning before reopening at 7 a.m., just in time for petit dejeuner. During the festival, the corner of Rue Tony Allard and Rue Victor Cousin is cordoned off to accommodate up to 5,000 revelers, who choke the corner just behind the Grand Hotel’s parking lot.
While the bar has been there for 30 years, it cemented its reputation as the place for the badge-wielding brigades to congregate in the early aughts, after the legendary Petit Carlton on rue de la Republique was turned into yet another chain clothing store. From those in flip-flops to frippery, it’s been everyone’s “one last drink” stop for a decade and a half.
“When the Petit Carlton closed, everyone starting coming here, and it became the meeting place for everybody,” says Aich, a former boat captain who has been at the helm of the Petit Majestic for 10 years. According to Aich, last year the city sent police every night to hand out noise or other violations in an effort to establish earlier closing times. “They tried to organize a dossier to stop me, and this year I’ve been ordered to close at 12:30.”
“The problem of the Petit Majestic is not a problem of authorization of closing time, it’s a problem of non-respect, nonobservance of authorization,” mayor David Lisnard tells THR. “This place is completely marginal in an area which has 100 restaurants and 800 bars. … There are plenty of places to go to party.”
Stragglers, Aich says, are part of the problem as customers who love hanging around in the street stay outside drinking even when the bar is closed, which leads to additional complaints. Aich says he has hired “many lawyers” to try to get approval to stay open until 6 a.m. for a few days at the beginning of the festival, then start closing at 2:30 a.m. The mayor’s office had not reached a decision by press time.
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London Film Festival