During my stay in the Côte d’Azur I was lucky enough to meet a variety of people with an interest in the film heritage of the area.
One of the first was the owner of a 1965 Porsche 365 Speedster, Mr Fabrice Le Roy, who drove me to the village of Eze.
Fabrice owns Rent A Classic Car, a Nice company which rents out vintage cars to tourists so they can see the French Riviera in style.
« We started out with four cars and now we have 25, » Fabrice explained. « We’ll organise rallies with 10 or 15 cars and take them up to the stage of the Monte Carlo rally and it’s a lot of fun.
« This Porsche 356 was once booked for three days by filmmakers from the Netherlands who were making an advert. Six months later I started to get enquiries asking if this was the car from the advert. It turned out it was on every wall in Holland!
« What we offer is an experience. It’s not easy for people to own a car that’s 50 years old. It’s a nice way to discover the French Riviera – you can’t drive fast anymore but you can drive in style! »
Further along the coast, in the town of Roquebrune-Cap-Martin, visited the Hotel Le Roquebrune and met the owner, Mrs Marinovitch. Mrs Marinovitch’s parents once owned the hotel, and for years they hosted guests such as Alfred Hitchcock, Frank Sinatra and Sean Connery.
Mrs Marinovitch talked to about one of the guests, Cary Grant, and his interest in her mother’s chocolate soufflé, as you’ll see in the following video…
During my trip I also headed to Cannes and managed to get behind the scenes at the famous Palais des Festivals, host venue for each of the annual Cannes Film Festivals. There I met Philippe Octo, who has been Stage Management Department Director since 1983.
« I work here all year round but there’s a special atmosphere during the two weeks of the Cannes Film Festival, » Philippe told me in the 2,300 seat Grand Auditorium. « Preparation is taken really seriously. We bring in a special sound system for the Festival and the preparation takes two days for the set-up of the sound and screen and then one week of testing. »
Although many films shown today at the Palais are screened from digital, Philippe is not so keen on the loss of film.
« When we used to show film, all the directors and producers wanted to make sure that the prints they were screening were perfect. During the day we’d screen around three films until midnight. We’d stop and start the next morning and screen the films for the following day.
« We’d spend hours discussing which was the best copy was the best with directors, producers, sound and lab technicians and it was fascinating. That has disappeared. Today we set the light and sound levels, set that the disc has run through and that’s it. »
After touring the Palais I headed back into town to the Clic Bookstore and Gallery, where I met photographer, Gilles Traverso. Gilles is the great grandson of photographer Auguste Traverso, with the family name renowned in the city for its work.
« The family company was started by my great grandfather in 1919, he was a photographer in Cannes before the Film Festival began, » Gilles told me. « He documented the growth of Cannes, including the opening of the Carlton Hotel. My father, Henri, began to work as a photographer when he was 14 and his grandfather asked him to start working at the Film Festival in 1946. He worked until 1982, when the Festival moved to the new Palais des Festival.
« One of my father’s photos features Grace Kelly at the old Port of Cannes, and he was one of only two or three photographers present. When they had finished they were invited for coffee with the actress. Nowadays I’m not sure an actress like Nicole Kidman would make the same invitation. »
See more of the Traverso collection on the Cannes Connection website.
Thanks to everyone who took time to help make the trip such a special one, it wouldn’t have been the same without you.