The Palais des Festivals

A story worthy of a film script

Closely linked to the Film Festival, the history of the Palais is full of twists and turns! After the first edition of the Festival in the municipal casino in 1946, the Palais Croisette, located in the place of the current JW Marriott, took over and hosted the Festival for 33 years. It was not until 1982 that the Palais des Festivals officially took its place in the building we know today.

Thanks to the worldwide success of the Festival and the emergence of business tourism, the Palais underwent several extensions and a real facelift in 2009, which lasted for more than 10 years. Thanks to the latest renovations in 2013 and 2014, the imposing building is now a harmonious architectural achievement that is perfectly integrated into the Cannes landscape. The history of the Palais continues to be written day after day and immortalizes many scenes from cult films or more recently successful series.

The 5 key dates

in the history of the Palais

1939: a 1st edition cancelled

The project of the 1st Cannes Film Festival, then called International Film Festival, was scheduled for September 1939. Unfortunately, the war declarations decided otherwise and the edition was cancelled.

1946: the 1st Cannes Film Festival takes place in the former municipal casino

The war over, the project is taken up again, the Festival finally sees the light of day and is held in the former municipal casino.

1947: the first Palais, the Palais Croisette

The Palais Croisette is inaugurated on the site of the current JW Marriott hotel and will host the Festival for 33 years.



1982 : inauguration of the Palais des Festivals

With the growing success of the Festival and the emergence of business tourism, notably with the first editions of the MIPTV, the need to increase the reception capacity became inevitable.

Entrusted to the architects Bruet and Bennet, work began in 1979 and was completed in December 1982 with the inauguration of the new Palais des Festivals.

The building was built on the Georges Pompidou esplanade, at the western end of the Croisette, near the Old Port. The palace becomes an essential part of Cannes.

1983 : the 1st International Film Festival takes place at the Palais des Festivals

The Palais des Festivals et des Congrès de Cannes hosts its first International Film Festival and becomes a world reference in hosting international events

A Palais in constant transformation

Enlarged and above all embellished, rejuvenated and refined, the Palais is now perfectly integrated into the urban space of Cannes.

The Riviera area

In 1999, the Espace Riviera was inaugurated with 2,600 m² of additional exhibition space.

The Rotonde Lérins

In 2006, the Rotonde Lérins was built with its 360° view of the Croisette and the old town of The Suquet. A 3,500m² terrace surrounds it and offers a magnificent panorama of the sea.

10 years of work

In 2009, modernisation and embellishment work was launched.

10 years later, the Palais has been transformed and presents a contemporary and refined architecture.

Did you know that?

4,000 litres of white paint were needed to repaint all the walls of the building between 2010 and 2011.

Three remarkable spaces:

The Grand Auditorium Louis Lumière, the legendary hall for the Festival’s official ceremonies, is getting a makeover with new colours, materials and lighting. The 2,300 seats, specially designed for this room, have been given an exclusive design for Cannes.

The foyer of the Grand Auditorium Louis Lumière: enlarged volumes, exceptional luminosity, new escalators and above all a double revolution staircase, immaculately smooth, which can be admired through the glass roof from outside.

The Salon Pierre Viot: previously named Salon Croisette and recently renamed Salon Pierre Viot, in homage to the director of the Festival from 1985 to 2000, this prestigious space offers a breathtaking view of the Bay of Cannes and the Croisette.

Would you like to visit the Palais?

It is possible by registering at the Tourist Office…

“Silence, it's spinning at the Palais des Festivals”

A mythical place of cinema par excellence, the Palais also marks the history of cinema and more recently of series filmed in the building itself.

Some references:

  • In October 2016, the series Ten Percent was filmed in the Palais des Festivals with Juliette Binoche who played the role of mistress of ceremonies for the script. A series that will also be honoured at the closing of season 3 of Canneseries in 2020.
  • Les Gorilles with Joey Starr, Manu Payet, Alice Belaïd – Released in 2015
  • Mr Bean’s Holiday, with Rowan Atkinson, Willem Dafoe and Emma de Caunes – Released in 2007. This comedy by Steve Bendelack is said to be inspired by Jacques Tati’s film, “Mr Hulot’s Holiday”, of which there is a painted wall in Cannes (link to cinema page / painted walls).
  • Femme Fatale with Antonio Banderas released in 2002. This Brian De Palma film is the talk of the town during guided tours of the Palais. Disappointment can be read on the faces of the spectators of this film who do not find the majestic waterfalls of the film but … just toilets in the Palais!
  • La Cité de la Peur with Chantal Lauby, Alain Chabat, Dominique Farrugia (Les Nuls) – Released in 1994. This film by Alain Berbérian and Alain Chabat became a cult film as soon as it was released. In the chase scene on the Croisette, Alain Chabat’s exit starts from the now enlarged glass roof.