For some, a business travel itinerary to Cannes, France, is not the first thing that comes to mind. Instead, it’s probably images of the popular Cannes Film Festival where the entertainment industry gathers for about two weeks each year in May since 1946. Yes, the Palais des Festivals is widely recognized for its red carpet entrance to its grand auditorium that holds 2,246 seats. Yes, event organizers host events, launch parties and film competitions throughout Cannes. And, yes, practically every inch of this city is used to host the Festival.

These are just a few reasons why Cannes, France, is also popular in the international business travel and business events industry. Those who look beyond the glitz and glamor realize that this Mediterranean city understands how to support international congresses, meetings, incentives and other special events. This is a major destination for international meetings and events.

Why? Well, begin with the Palais des Festivals – Cannes’ convention center that offers six levels of meeting and exhibition space, as well as the Lernis Rotunda, a unique event space that’s located on the beach with amazing marina and sea views. Combine excellent convention facilities with a full range of hotel options, hundreds of venues and dozens of incentive activities, and Cannes receives more than 480,000 attendees each year for congress events alone.

Hotels in Cannes, France

Cannes, France, offers 120 hotels and a capacity of 7,500 rooms – of which 2,600 are in Palace (i.e., 5 star) and 4 star accommodations. Business hotels in Cannes have 140 meeting rooms, and the largest can hold up to 1,000 delegates (larger conventions are coordinated through the Palais des Fesivals). Of course, the most popular “grand” hotels are found on the Croisette, but nice deals can be found throughout Cannes to meet all budgets. About 45% of hotel room occupancy is filled through international business tourism. Three business travel hotels in central Cannes include:

  • Majestic Barriere
  • Carlton InterContinental
  • Hotel Martinez
Meetings in Cannes, France

Most meetings are either held at the Palais des Festivals or one of Cannes’ business hotels. But for other activities, helicopter rides, arts and crafts, painting, wine contests, bocce ball, murder mystery parties, casinos, horse riding, catamarans, yachting and sailing are just a few of the choices available to gather business travelers in Cannes and along the Riviera. With 26 beaches, 248 venues and 50 incentive activities, Cannes is full of unique venues and entertainment options for hosting meetings and special events. And shopping is always an option between meetings and events.

The Casino Palm Beach offers unique sea views and flexible event space for programs such as expos, receptions and other events. For a non-business event activity, Parfums M. Micallef is a unique venue that can host intimate sessions that allow women to create their own scent. And Le Baoli is perhaps Cannes’ hottest nightspot, but they also offer dining and buyout options that would be suitable for everything from business dinners to opening or closing night receptions.

One hidden venue that some may want to consider creating their own evening activity is on the island of Sainte Marguerite at Cannes Jeunesse which offers spectacular views of Cannes during private evening receptions.

The Castre Museum is located in the medieval castle of the monks of Lerins historic monument in old Cannes — and is available for private events. Offering a variety of indoor and outdoor spaces, the Castle Museum is one of Cannes unique venues and offers excellent views of the city, the Croissette and the sea.

Dining in Cannes, France

Cannes offers more than 480 restaurants and cafés, 20 piano bars and discos, and three casinos. Cannes really offers a mix of dining experiences. Beach restaurants are available for buyouts, and many cafés and contemporary options exist, including dining options at any of the luxury hotels along the Croisette. For those adventuring within the streets of the village, the Cannes Golden District is filled with a mix of ethnic options and small dance bars. And for those who want more classic dining experiences, including Provencal options, walk the 15 minutes to the winding, cobblestone paths of old Cannes – Le Suquet – where they offer amazing options. Rue Saint Antoine is an excellent spot to find restaurants for private events or to secure space for dine-around options.

Logistics in Cannes

Cannes feels more like a larger resort village than city, and its moderate climate makes it possible to host large events where attendees simply walk between venues and meetings: 51F/10.5C in winter, 59F/15C in spring, 73F/23C in summer and 63.5F/17.5C in fall.

Plus, whether you’re interested in holding a smaller program or wanting to claim your own naming rights for a buyout of the whole city, everything seems possible in Cannes. Many business event services may be coordinated directly through the convention bureau, Palais des Festivals.

The Riviera International Airport in Nice is located just 15 miles away (note, taxi fares are expensive hidden cost for Cannes, France). French is the official language in France, but English is also spoken commonly here.

Updated. Initially published August 14, 2010.