Film Scouts on the Riviera 1999

1999 Cannes Film Festival Diaries
A Festival Wine Diary, Part 1

by Amy Reiley

Film Scouts on the Riviera 1999 is brought to you by:

What do you drink on the eve of the infamous film festival? Champagne, of course!

Everything was coming up rosé at Chateau Eza, in the ancient walled city of Eze, a peaceful forty minutes away from the controlled chaos of Cannes, on the eve of the Festival (May 12). To begin my pre-Cannes meal, the Perrier Jouet Belle Epoch Rosé was the thing. The French love their "aperitif" before dinner and I quickly settled into the swing of things with my celebratory glass of bubbly.

Next came a rosé wine from the Cote de Provence. As one hour rolled into the next, one bottle melted into two. Shrouded in the cave-like sanctity of Eza's timeless dining room, I felt a million miles away from the glamour and hubbub of the Riviera - that is, until a large group of American movie people filled the two free tables in the center of the room. Suddenly jolted into the reality of the Festival, I bid Eza adieu with a final glass of Tattinger Brut champagne and braced myself for the madness known as Cannes.

On opening day (May 13), the city seemed indeed to have gone slightly mad. The unbridled frenzied construction of tents and pavilions, marketing schemes, and hordes of paparazzi are truly appalling. Cannes seems to have turned into a three-ring circus missing its ringmaster. However, the excitement generated by the festivities does seem to bring a renewed energy to the slightly jaded Riviera.

There were crowds of onlookers, but the opening night run up the red carpet to the Palais was a bust for the little of it I managed to see. Claudia Schiffer was the only face I recognized, but there were of course quite a few celebreties. What was more exciting from my vantage point was the race of a corps of French police in battle gear to squelch a group of protesters halting traffic in the Croissette, the City's main boulevard. This little demo, (for what cause I do not know) drew most of the attention away from the parade up the red carpet.

So what do you drink after an opener? More champagne of course!

Jim Byerley's opening-night dinner at the three-starred Palme d'Or in the Hotel Martinez provided two more stars than my celebrity watch: aperitif's of rosé champagne and a full-bodied rosé wine with the three-starred meal. This time we imbibed in a rosé from Bandol, the region just east of the Côte de Provence. A strong French coffee to finish, the dinner provided a calming finale to a day of chaos.

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