The History Behind Cannes’ Most Star-Studded Hotel 

The History Behind Cannes’ Most Star-Studded Hotel 

In the footsteps of the French Riviera’s most famous cinema stars, trace the history of Canne’s most star-studded hotel: the Hotel Barrière Le Majestic.

From its origins as a modest fishermen’s village to the hotspot during one of the world’s most star-studded annual film events, Cannes has made a name for itself through the decades. Illuminated by the lights, camera, and action of the Cannes Film Festival is the legendary Hotel Barrière Le Majestic Cannes. How did this address to the who’s who of Hollywood manage to take the spotlight both on and off-season?

The celebrity of Cannes began way before the movie stars arrived with the film festival. It was the Chancellor of England who settled in this charming village by chance, back in 1834. Aristocracy from all over Europe soon followed Lord Brougham to the French Riviera, making Cannes their holiday residence and a place to see and be seen. Fast forward to 1923, years after the famous Boulevard de la Croisette was widened from a footpath to a promenade. Art-Deco style palace Hotel Le Majestic planted its roots overlooking the azure sea thanks to the entrepreneurial vision of Henri Ruhl. Soon after its grand opening, François, along with his nephew Lucien Barrière, took over the reins.  


The hotel circa 1926

Attention to detail

From its early days, glamour and attention to detail set the scene within every one of the 150 lavish guestrooms, many of which bathed in the glorious light of the Riviera sun. The fashionable painter Francis Di Signori decorated the reception rooms while Carrara marble covered the elegant staircases. A notable expansion to this iconic address took place in 1965 when two new floors replaced the attic, adding even more space for prominent guests arriving in Cannes from around the globe. A swimming pool adorned with hand-made mosaics by Murano glassmakers joined the prestigious address in 1999 along with a fragrant terrace garden.

It wasn’t until 2010 coinciding with the 63rd annual film festival that the visionary Hotel Le Majestic designed by Théo Petit was completed as originally planned. Kristin Scott-Thomas and Gilles Jacob cut the ribbon leading to the hotel’s newly inaugurated western wing, as a celebrity crowd including movie stars Kate Beckinsale, Benicio del Toro, and Eva Longoria cheered on. Illustrious French interior designer Jacques Garcia designed the enviable new guest rooms, bringing the total to 305.

With the creation of the International Film Festival, Cannes became the selected spot for the glitz and glamour that came to define the seaside village. Neighboring the Palais des Festivals et des Congrès where this grand cultural event premiered in 1946, Le Majestic became the meeting spot for international film directors, actors, and media.

The Mélodie suite © Le Majestic Cannes

Halls of fame

Who exactly can be found walking the hallways of Le Majestic to and from the red carpet? While the hotel is renowned for its discretion, it’s enough to stroll the corridors and admire the collection of over 2,500 photos for a glimpse at the star-studded guest list. From Alain Delon, Jean-Paul Belmondo and Romy Schneider to Catherine Deneuve, Robert De Niro and Matthew McConaughey, there’s no lack of A-listers that lived their own stories within these luxurious suites. If only the walls could speak! 

France Correspondent for Screen International Rebecca Leffler shares what she has seen in her nearly two decades reporting at the Cannes Film Festival: “What makes Le Majestic truly magical is that during the Cannes Film Festival just before the ‘montée des marches’, the red-carpet premieres, all of the talent gathers in the lobby so there are celebrities and filmmakers and their teams. There is a frenetic energy, and it is so exciting!”

For anyone eager to live in a film set, Hôtel Barrière Le Majestic sets the stage for iconic scenes from almost a dozen films. The crime drama directed by Henri Verneuil dating back to 1962, “Mélodie en sous-sol” (Any Number Can Win), starring Jean Gabin and Alain Delon, has inspired a suite, 50 years later. Located on the hotel’s top floor, the spacious blue-hued Mélodie Suite is adorned with photos taken during the filming. Another starry penthouse suite was designed to recall Marcel Carné’s masterpiece “Quai des brumes” (Port of Shadows). Named for the queen of French cinema, the luxurious Michèle Morgan Suite is decorated with cushions revealing the actress’s hypnotic blue eyes, to match the sea views. Her Palme d’Or awards lining the shelves add another element of pomp.

Dior suite © Le Majestic Cannes

Fashion also plays a leading role at Hotel Barrière Le Majestic Cannes. During the twelve days of the Cannes Film Festival, the famed Christian Dior Penthouse wins for best dressed. Signature Dior haute couture style includes a Louis XVI style table, elegant silver and gray medallion chairs, and framed sketches and photographs, with the entire space kitted out in plush silks and velvets. A replica of Monsieur Dior’s desk appears, as if the designer stepped away to dress a client ; the Dior Maison does, after all, ceremoniously outfit select stars just before they mount the red carpet.

Whatever style room or suite satisfies the occasion, make sure to book well in advance in high season, especially during the 77th Cannes Film Festival in May, when celebrities reawaken the village and fifty guest rooms become round-the-clock offices. Or feel free to try your luck. One Hollywood star did just that. During the 1983 festival, Paul Newman showed up last minute and was hosted in Lucien Barrière’s private apartment.

Whether or not you share the same star power, head to Spa Diane Barrière for a customized glow-up at the helm of Biologique Recherche or LIGNE ST BARTH. And spend your evenings star-gazing by the outdoor pool or sipping Emanuele Balestra’s signature plant-infused cocktails at Bar Fouquet’s followed by a gourmet feast by award-winning chef Pierre Gagnaire. No matter where you turn at Le Majestic, you’ll be surrounded by stars.

Lead photo credit : Le Majestic exterior

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Kasia Dietz is a handbag designer and freelance writer from New York, with a passion for art, fashion and travel, who followed her heart to Paris. She resides in the North Marais and has been featured in various publications including Vogue, Stylist, Travel+Leisure and Luxos. Her handbags are available online and sold at fashionable boutiques around the world. You can read about her life and travels on her blog:

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