My first (and so far only) visit to Cannes wasn’t what one would call glamorous. I had been on the road for almost a month, sleeping poorly, eating canned food and taking showers at the beach (those little shower heads saved my life and my hair). Still, when I got to the French Riviera it felt weirdly like I had become a character on Gossip Girl.
Maybe it is my own tendency to fantasize and daydream whenever I travel, but even in my run down Havaianas flip flops, jean shorts and t-shirt, I instantly felt more glamorous when I hit the city. Nice had seemed too much like a town and not enough like a dream to awaken the same feelings, and Cannes seemed to be covered in the type of mysticism that only a city that’s used to receiving millionaires and stars can be.
As I walked through its cobbled stone streets, I could distinctively recall the days I had spent reading the Gossip Girl novels. At one point in my life, I had been obsessed with them (maybe, at a deeper level, I still am), and walking through a place that Blair Waldorf could choose to spend her vacation in felt like I was living a particularly good episode of my own life.
Although, in all truth, there isn’t much to do in Cannes if you don’t have money to spend and aren’t interested in gambling. Since I could not go to any of the glamorous restaurants and my group decided we wouldn’t gamble, I settled for the sights and held on to that strangely comforting Gossip Girl fantasy instead. I watched the yachts as if I could hop on one of them and sail away, and looked at the stores like I was perusing for new collection items.
The weather helped a lot. The blue sky stretched out infinitely above me, and the sea offered a cool summer breeze to placate the heat. I went in July, so there were no big movie stars or groups of paparazzi swarming the place. There were lots of tourists, French families who wanted to hit the beach, groups of Asian tourists that carried an insane amount of photographic cameras (though I was also guilty of that), and groups of German, English and other European families that, much like the group I was with, wanted to see what all the rave was about.
I also did tourist-y stuff, obviously, like visiting the famous red carpet of the film festival, Le Suquet and the old port, and allowing myself to lay on a nearby beach and just exist under the hot July sun.
I think Cannes is a cool girl destination because it is one of those places that, like Paris or New York, has the ability to make you daydream. Instead of being disappointed in the fact that I couldn’t party on a rooftop pool, go on a yacht trip or eat at an Instagram-worthy restaurant, I simply allowed myself to feel and see and experience the trés cool sensation that the place itself brought me.
However, I wouldn’t be opposed to returning it in more favorable conditions, if only to relate how that same feeling would show itself as I did any of the things mentioned above.