Cannes Lions 2017 Practical Info: What to Wear, Where to Eat, Where to Get a Tote Bag and Why You Should Download the App

I’ve had the pleasure of being a first-time attendee at Cannes Lions 2017 for the first few days. Here’s my collected info for those that are heading out to the event...

Read on for what to wear, where to eat, why downloading the app is a good idea – and lots more!

La Croisette, the famous Cannes beachside boulevard that leads you to right to Cannes Lions

La Croisette, the famous Cannes beachside boulevard that leads you to right to Cannes Lions

Looking for a Cannes Lions 2017 tote bag or tee shirt?

First things first, right?! Find that blue and white bag (and tee shirts) in the main Palais building on floor -1 (lower level). In the Palais II, find the bags near the main terrace entrance.

Make sure you have the right pass for an effective week.

When the registrar tells you that your pass will only get you into certain areas, trust them.

There are well trained security and guides everywhere, scanning badges at doors. I saw people get turned away from talks and venues several times.

Make sure your pass will get you into all the talks you need to see!

Queues for big-name talks can be long

Be sure to get in line early if you can. Tip: if you are staying for a second talk in the same theater, know that if you leave to use the restroom you might have to get back in line. Plan ahead and consider keeping your seat!

Talk formats

Talks are mostly traditional. It’s usually a speaker, panel or interview in front of an audience. There are sometimes Q&As, but not always.

The creativity and innovation are in the content – and especially at the fringe events sponsored by brands. Think early product demos, immersive experiences, films, a branded ferris wheel, and plenty of interesting swag.  

Photographer  Platon  was an engaging storyteller; he had half the audience tearing up

Photographer Platon was an engaging storyteller; he had half the audience tearing up

Big names make big splashes, but lesser known brands can kill it too. Give them some love.

First-time exhibitors put on my two favorite talks so far – engaging and memorable. (Think about it – they are aiming for awareness!)

What to wear at Cannes Lions?

Dress is more relaxed than you might assume. By day, almost anything fresh and/or interesting goes; it’s a conference for creatives, plus it’s usually hot, and right by the beach. Because of the large number of people in every space, it is rarely chilly, even inside the cooled theaters.

Men and women wear a lot of whites and blues. (Classic French Riviera attire.) White pants, jeans, shorts, dresses, fresh tee shirts and tennis shoes. The whites are practical: they keep you cool in the heat of the day.

Women wear summer dresses, rompers, or dress up a bit more in pressed pants and tops or slick dresses. Saw some swimsuit straps. Men typically wear short sleeve shirts (printed or neutral, button down or tee). They wore pants, long shorts, shorts, black jeans, white jeans. You’ll thank yourself for wearing cooler fabrics and/or looser fitting pieces. Just make sure you’re wearing something you could be photographed in, and/or that you’ll be comfortable networking in.

For dress code cues from the influencers: female speakers rocked everything from white v-neck tee shirt, jeans and simple wedges (co-founder of the Muse) to a crepey, ong metallic blue gown and golden sandals (actor Laura Dern). Males spanned white pants and blazers with colorful shirts (Simon LeBonne of Duran Duran) to all-black, to much chiller neutral pants, tees and light jackets.

What shoes to wear?

For women, I saw about 40% in heels/wedges/platforms, and the rest in nice flats, sandals, espadrilles or nice tennis shoes–which are great for walking all day and being sand-ready at happy hours. (If you’re unsure, bring one pair of versatile heels so you have the option. Or you can always hit Mango or Zara when you get to Cannes.) For men: sneakers, tennis shoes, sandals, leather shoes if they’re not too hot. (There is a Mango Man store too.)

For happy hours and at night, many attendees go straight from the conference wearing whatever they’re wearing. Some dress it up a bit, some a lot (think club attire). Parties might have specific dress codes.

Bring sunglasses. Consider sunscreen.

You’ll be outside a lot even if most of your talks are inside.

Want some sun?

You won’t be cooped up inside all day at the conference. Talks are hosted in multiple buildings on the Palais campus and in cabanas so you’re outside to zig zag among them. You can even watch some talks under the open sun on a big screen on the Palais terrace. And of course, you can always break from the conference to take a swim in the sea.

Where to eat during Cannes Lions.

There is very little food available in the Palais campus buildings.

There are some kiosks for coffee, pastry and candy bars on the campus (inclu a cafeteria in the lower level of the main building and espresso in Palais II). There are also permanent kiosks for sandwiches, crepes and ice cream on the grounds near the cabana village, and free snacks in some of the cabanas. Lots of free drinks at the happy hours/beaches.

But you’re in the South of France, and you should take advantage of the food. For real, fresh, delicious local cuisine, plan for a lunch break “off-campus”. Walk out past security into the winding streets of Cannes and find a café. Try the fresh fish, a plate of socca (a flat, light pancake native to the area), or a Salade Nicoise – fresh greens with tuna, egg, olives, tomatoes and vinaigrette.

If you’re short on time, find a boulangerie and get quiche or baguette (sandwich) to go. Trust me.

Entertaining a group? Read up first. I was invited to Baoli by my hosts for high-end Sushi/Japanese/French fusion, and things started elegantly – all flickering candles, straightened hair, silky dresses, black outfits everywhere. So we were all surprised at the level of restaurant theatrics that started with the lights flickering on and off, and grew more intense as the night went on. Think: dance music and servers on tables, sparklers springing from platters of fruit delivered by 4 running people, giant bottles of rose and sancerre. At first, every table in the house was wide eyed and gramming it; eventually, this apparently magical formula got everyone dancing. Thanks Baoli.

There are lots of free water bottles available in all the Palais campus buildings. I saw one water fountain at Palais II (although there totally may be more).

Rose just got trendy in America, but the French Riviera has had that pulse for years. Most happy hours and night events will serve you plenty. Supermarkets have huge rose sections.

The Cannes Lions mobile app is actually really good.

Instead of carrying around a paper schedule, you can check and filter the daily schedule and heart the events you want to attend. Then tap the location for a map.

Use the highlights tab to view some of the recommended talks and events.

If you miss a talk, you can view some summaries and recaps on the app too.

Charging your phone

There are free lockable phone chargers all over the Palais campus! Just slip in your phone before a session, snag the key and retrieve it after.

If you’re at Cannes Lions to network

You could spend all day solo or in your team bubble shuffling between talks, events and activations. Just like most conferences, you have to make a point of striking up conversations when you have the chance – ie. when standing in line, after a talk, etc. There are meet-ups too. And of course, happy hours and evening parties make some of the best low-stress opportunities.

Do you have any tips to add? I'd love to hear. Leave a comment below.