Today I thought I’d take you on a tour of Cannes and share with you a side of the famous Riviera resort that often goes unnoticed. Cannes, synonymous with cinema, has a wonderful collection of wall murals – street art – all over the town, celebrating its relationship with the “7th Art”. Look up and you’ll find paintings of iconic moments and people in cinema’s history, depicting famous French and international stars. Look out for Marilyn Monroe, James Bond, Charlie Chaplin, Buster Keaton, Batman, Mickey Mouse, Alain Delon, James Dean, R2D2, Starsky and Hutch, Jacques Tati, Lightning McQueen and many more.
In 2002 the Cannes town council started decorating the sides of buildings with film-related themes in an effort to enhance the appearance of various neighbourhoods. The first four giant wall paintings were inaugurated in 2004 and since then a further 11 have been added. Owing to the recent (and on-going) renovation of the train station, two have unfortunately been destroyed, leaving a total today of 13 magnificent pieces of art.
I recently had a good old friend visiting for the 3rd time from Australia. We’d visited plenty of places together the previous two times so inspired by the imminent opening of the film festival, and the fact that she hadn’t been to Cannes before, we armed ourselves with a map and set out to find the cinema street art. A sort of “Visit Cannes with a difference Tour”. Living nearby I’ve been to Cannes many times, including to the Festival itself twice (which you can read about here), but I’d only ever noticed a couple of the decorated walls. Many of them are quite hidden and reasonably hard to find, and looking for them takes you to some lesser-known parts of the city, away from the crowds. We didn’t manage to see them all in the end, as we ran out of time to get to the more distant ones, but we found and enjoyed 10 out of 13.
In the photo above you can see my friend taking a photo of “Cannes Movie Car Museum”. If you look carefully you can also see “Cinema Kisses” in the distance. Some paintings are grouped close together. Others are spread far and wide.
The painting above celebrates 100 years of cinema, with lights, camera, action…Look closely and you can spot Leonardo DiCaprio and Kate Winslet, Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers, Charlie Chaplin, Batman, Superman, Jean-Paul Belmondo, Gérard Depardieu, Jessica Rabbit, C-3P0 and R2D2, Laurel and Hardy, Lauren Bacall, Humphrey Bogart, Robert Redford, Harold Lloyd, Mickey and Minnie Mouse. I can’t name them all, who else can you see?
The scene above is simply titled “Trompe l’oeil”, referring to cinema being an illusion. What you see doesn’t actually exist, there’s no balcony, no windows, no room with a view.
Some of the paintings seem to be in odd places, not easily accessible, such as this one of French actor Gérard Philipe in the film Fanfan la Tulipe (above) and this one (below, slightly easier to photograph) of classic comic Buster Keaton.
One of my favourite murals depicts Jacques Tati outside the “Hôtel de la Plage“. It would be best seen and appreciated from within a little park opposite the facade, but unfortunately the park was locked, making photography tricky, but not impossible.
The immortal goddess of cinema, Marilyn Monroe, graces the side of a building easily seen from the flyover road above the train station. I’ve gazed into her eyes many times while stuck in traffic! It’s a perfect welcome to Cannes.
Another fabulous black and white wall illustrates some of the most famous kisses in cinematic history. Gabin – Morgan, Cary Grant – Ingrid Bergman, DiCaprio – Winslet, Clark Gable – Vivien Leigh, Bogart – Bacall and Marcello Mastroianni – Anita Ekberg all star on the side of a block of flats in a residential area north of the Croisette.
Just around the corner, in an unassuming parking lot you’ll find a “museum” of movie cars. Starsky and Hutch, Mad Max, James Bond, Bonnie and Clyde, Taxi Driver, Mr Bean, Cars, Ghost Busters and Batman are all parked along side more modern day vehicles.
The last two paintings on our movie tour are called “The 7th Art” which represents all the cinemas in Cannes and “L’envers du décor” showing what goes on behind the scene. It pays homage to all the people who work behind the camera to make movie magic.
Of all the Cannes cinema street art, we didn’t get to see paintings of Alain Delon, Harold Lloyd and Charlie Chaplin. They’ll just have to wait for another time. If you’d like to see all these excellent works of art yourself a map of their locations is available to download here.
Have you been to Cannes and seen any of these murals? Which one is your favourite?
Here’s a PIN to share!