Le Choo Choo: Cannes to Paris

CannesStreetSceneBonjour from France, yall.

I’m typing this post out while hauling ass through the South of France on a TGV train, the arid, hilly countryside and villages filled with sandy-colored houses topped with red-tile roofs. It’s the sort of region in which you could film Western movies and the audience wouldn’t know the difference. (Just ignore the fact that if you climb the next hill, you’ll be faced with the blue waters of the Mediterranean.)

You should also know that there’s a nun sitting behind us. I can hear her typing on her phone every once in a while – she still has the typing sound effect enabled on it.

Scene from the train

I spent the last week in Cannes at the Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity. Not to be confused with the Film Festival, this one is the biggest event of the year for the advertising and marketing industries. Imagine a week-long Oscars for advertising agencies – and their clients and the vendors looking to get at them all. We were there to cover it. Said coverage involved a lot of sweating, but also gallons of rosé and truckloads of great food. The sweating and rosé, though, they catch up to you by the end of the week. Put it this way: I ended up with two bottles of Michter’s after a party at the beginning of the week and didn’t touch them for the remainder of the week.

If you care at all about this sort of thing, you can read about it here. (You can click the Cannes button at the top of that page to search for subsequent entries.)

Despite working at Advertising Age for going on 16 years, this was my first trip to Cannes. Being the boss has its benefits.

One of the benefits was having lunch on Ile Sainte-Marguerite under the shadow of this.

Not only that, it’s my first trip to France. And Cara had never been, either.

So, she flew to Nice to meet me in Cannes. Believe it or not, there’s a direct flight from JFK to Nice, which is extremely convenient. She arrived Sunday. After letting her nap for a little bit, I then marched her all over the place for a one-day look at the town, a few glasses of rosé and a couple of good meals.

And now we’re on a train for our first trip to Paris, which thankfully won’t involve any work. (Actually, if you’ve been following along on the social media, you know we’re already in Paris.)

The view from the top of Cannes


For those interested, I stayed at a hotel called Club Maintenon. Much of the ad industry looks to stay along the Croisette while in Cannes, at either The Majestic, The Carlton or The Martinez. But by the time the ad festival releases rooms to we media maggots, those are all booked up. They’re also crazy expensive. My coworkers took apartments in the city, but I took a chance on Club Maintenon. It’s not the fanciest place in the world, but it’s an easy six minute walk to the Palais (where the Festival takes place), three minutes to the train station and Monoprix (kind of like Target, but with much fresher produce and a liquor section that sells bottles of rosé as big as my torso). Looking at Google Maps, the place seems farther away from the water than it actually is. It’s a perfectly safe neighborhood and the walk is safe even late at night. There’s a police station on the corner. And a gelato place at the end of the street.

The rooms are giant, especially considering you’re in Europe. Each comes with a king-size bed, balcony, mini sink, mini fridge, and tub and shower with water pressure that would take the paint off a house. (Oh, and toilet and bidet. After Googling “How do you use a bidet?” I decided the answer was: “Ken Wheaton doesn’t.”) There’s a rooftop bar and restaurant, but I was never there during open hours. There’s also laundry in the basement if you sweat through all your skivvies—and you just might. The staff is extremely friendly and, like many places in Cannes, speaks English.

And it’s a lot cheaper than the better-known hotels along the Croisette.

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