From a tourist point of view, the main virtue of the famous Palais des Festivals et des Congrès – or, more briefly, Palais des Festivals – is the hosting of the even more famous Cannes Film Festival. Though somewhat distorted, this perspective is partly justified, given the fact that the Palais as such was built in 1949 precisely to the end of hosting the back then newly founded Film Festival (in 1946). However, the establishment soon outgrew the purpose for which it was built, becoming a venue hosting the first business conventions, which is why a new larger and more impressive building was erected, the initial one becoming the nowadays site of the luxury Palais Stephanie Hotel.
The present Palais des Festivals et des Congrès fills an area of 28,000 square meters comprising 18 auditoriums and numerous rooms and exhibition areas. The establishment consists of, as it were, a main wing represented by the site of the initial municipal casino on which is was built, a more recent wing, namely, Espace Riviera (built in 1999) and the new Rotonde Lerins (built in 2006). But besides impressing by its dimensions, what is appreciable about the Palais des Festivals et des Congrès is its being fitted with the most modern facilities and technology, in view of enhancing the important activities carried out here, activities which range from exhibitions and conferences to shows and screenings.
The excellent management of the Palais des Festivals et de Congrès is owed to the contribution of the so called SEMEC (the Society of Mixed Economy for Events of the city of Cannes). Thanks to them, the Cannes Film Festival aside, other events are held in the Palais, such as the Sony World Photography Awards, the Gotan Project, the Cannes Lions International Advertising Festival, the Cannes International Water Symposium, the Pantiero Festival, the Russian Art Festival, MIP-Com, Mapic, the Cannes Shopping Festival, the MIDEM Music Festival and the Games Festival. It’s more than obvious that the Palais des Festivals et des Congrès is essential not only for the tourist identity of Cannes, but for its entire relevance as a cultural and economic hub of France.
Besides such rather technical aspects, the Palais remains one of the undeniable attractions in Cannes, its main tourist asset being represented by the reputation of hosting the Film Festival which implements a touch otherworldliness to the establishment. No wonder all tourists arriving in Cannes want to immortalize the moment they see the Palais des Festivals by taking pictures to this major landmark which pegs out the main street of Cannes, namely, La Croisette.