11:00pm PT by Rhonda Richford
Fowl Play on the Croisette? Meet the Cannes Falconer
As paparazzi clamor for shots outside of the Hotel Martinez, Eva Longoria, Jean Dujardin and Julianne Moore have lined up for snaps with the festival’s most unlikely stars: falcons.
Garfield, Big Foot and Aladdin are among the hawks and falcons brought in for the 10 days of the festival to scare away the seagulls and pigeons that can torment poolside diners.
"They’ll steal food and spill wine on celebrities’ dresses," jokes French falconer Christophe Puzin, who’s currently on his fifth year of service at the hotel. His birds serve as a deterrent, swooping down from the hotel’s rooftop.
Longoria is such a fan that the L’Oreal spokeswoman visits with the fowl every year. Sylvester Stallone, Antonio Banderas and Jason Statham also have stopped by to snap selfies.
The 41-year-old Puzin, who first became enchanted with falcons during a hike at age 12, now has 21 birds in his own nest in eastern France. They are a mix of Harris hawks, a species native to California, and European saker falcons. Like any star, they’re on strict diets — they have weigh-ins every morning and evening, since just a few ounces can affect their performance. They’re slimmer in the summer as optimal flight weight varies according to season. Female birds are bigger than males, while the males are less calm. (Aladdin, the male falcon, is the “bad boy” of the bunch, says Puzin.)
Unfortunately, the group can’t hit Cannes’ famous late-night party scene and instead perch in the parking lot. Notes Puzin: "They fly by the sun, not the moon."