Follow in the footsteps of Robert De Niro and Marlene Dietrich at the Hôtel Barrière Le Majestic

Words: Selma Day

Every year, the world’s film industry descends on Cannes for the film festival – its famous red carpet attracting a stream of stars, and the Hotel Le Majestic, which opened in 1926, hosts its fair share of celebrities during this time. Not surprising considering it’s in a prime position on the palm-tree lined Boulevard de la Croisette, opposite the Palais des Festivals et des Congrès where most of the action takes place.

Over the years, regulars have included the likes of Marlène Dietrich, Robert De Niro and Michèle Morgan who met Jean Gabin here for the first time. The film world is celebrated throughout the hotel with around 2,500 photographs of Hollywood stars and celebrities adorning the walls, and a hi-tech private cinema seating up to 35 people.

But there’s a whole lot more to this grand-dame hotel than its movie connections. Most of the rooms and suites (350 in all) have sea views and come with every mod con you would expect, but standout suites include the Christian Dior suite where during the film festival, stars come to be dressed. Then there’s the dazzling Riviera suite with its own balcony with panoramic views of the sea, dressing room and marble bathroom. Two equally luxurious suites have recently been added – again with top-of-the-range facilities and stunning views.

The hotel has had numerous renovations over the years, including the restaurant, bar and terrace at Le Fouquet’s. The cosy dining room has a nod to the Art Deco style and the food – under head chef Pierre Gagnaire (of Sketch fame) – is inventive take on brasserie-style cuisine.

Many guests spend the day either by the pool or at the hotel’s private beach, where you’ll find lounges to relax on or, for the more active, a range of water sports. The recently-opened restaurant and bar BFire offers a menu created by chef Mauro Colagreco, who oversees the three-Michelin star Mirazur restaurant in Menton. Inspired by his Italian-Argentinian roots, it takes guests on a Mediterranean voyage with a choice of meat and fish dishes cooked or seared over the flames or embers of a wood fire. By night, there’s an in-house DJ, with musicians performing live regularly.

The latest culinary offering is Paradiso Nicole & Pierre (by Nicole Rubi and Pierre Gagnaire). Here, you can enjoy dishes such as vitello tonato, gambero rosso, lobster salpicon gnocchi and frozen Amalfi lemon, accompanied by an extensive wine list ranging from gems from the local region to treasures from Italy, from small producers to prestigious estates alike.

The hotel’s Bar Galerie du Fouquet’s Cannes is the place to be and be seen as well as to enjoy innovative cocktails created by bar manager Emanuele Balestra. Emanuele’s concoctions feature local herbs and flowers ranging from rose geranium from Morocco, pineapple sage and fennel flowers to stevia and several types of basil. The plants used in his cocktails are all grown in the hotel’s own vegetable gardens on the roof of the hotel, along with the honey from the bees that have taken up residence there is the recently-installed hives.

After enjoying all the delicious food and drink on offer, you might feel the need to burn off some calories at the fitness centre, a bright, airy room overlooking the sea. However, if your focus is more on general wellbeing, then Le Majestic’s Diane Barrière Spa is the place to go. Guests can immerse themselves in an elegant and luxurious setting, and enjoy treatments provided by Biologique Recherche and LIGNE ST-BARTH.

Away from the hotel, it’s worth taking time to explore what Cannes has to offer. Yes, you have all the designer stores on your doorstep along the Croisette, but the cobbled streets that are set back from the main drag are full of quaint shops and little bars and bistros. Be sure to visit the food market – it’s where much of the hotel’s produce comes from.

If you’re looking for a total escape from the bright lights of Cannes, take a boat trip to the Lérins islands of St Marguerite and the smaller island of St Honorat which belongs to the Abbey of Lérins. The Cistercian monks who live there happen to produce excellent wine, liqueurs and olive oil. You’ll rarely find anywhere as peaceful as this – it’s a world away from city life and the antidote to Cannes, but you may just want to experience both.