- I stayed in Cannes to cover this year’s Cannes Film Festival for Insider.
- While there, I checked out some of the hottest spots celebrities like to visit, including La Bâoli.
- The bar is beautiful but it felt too prestigious for someone like me, who is used to low-key venues.
- Visit Insider’s homepage for more stories.
Cannes is one of the chicest cities in Europe, and celebrities love to flock to the coastal town in the south of France every year for the famous film festival that shares its name.
While there, the stars stay in some of the biggest and most luxurious hotels, including Hotel Barrière’s Le Majestic and its $US9,600 ($AU13,037)-a-night suite. But even celebs visiting Cannes, perhaps more than most, want somewhere to unwind from the festival’s endless events.
I visited one of these places, the famous bar La Bâoli, which celebrities frequently visit to relax, hang out, and party in their downtime during the festival.
La Bâoli is just a 12-minute drive from the Palais des Festivals, which makes it an ideal getaway spot
While the Palais des Festivals is hustling and bustling from morning until night during the world-famous event, La Bâoli is situated a 12-minute drive (or about a 25-minute walk) from the main action of the Cannes Film Festival.
This location immediately gives it an exclusive, private feel. There are plenty of bars and restaurants right by the Palais des Festivals, but heading out to this relatively secluded area of Cannes gives a visit to La Bâoli a sense of occasion.
The restaurant was upmarket and carnival-like
As soon as you approach the beautifully lit-up bar, it’s obvious this is a high-end joint. There’s a strict, smart dress code, with only certain footwear allowed – I got in wearing white Nike trainers but was told people wearing too-sporty sneakers would not be allowed. All other clothing must look smart.
The downstairs restaurant, which serves a premium menu of fusion Mediterranean and Asian food, already had a party atmosphere despite the club not being open yet.
A DJ playing music inspired diners to get out of their seats and pause their meals and dance between the tables, hinting at a carnival atmosphere that Antoine Brière, head of communications and marketing, told me their club invites.
Brière said that having the film festival, which was rescheduled due to the coronavirus pandemic, in July, as opposed to its usual month of May, has proved to be a challenge. The new dates clashed with summer holiday goers, who are typically the ritzy bar’s biggest clients.
The club is still under capacity restrictions, but it’s clear this is a place that attracts high-profile guests
While the club restrictions mean it’s limited to 75% capacity, I was told that La Bâoli still goes all out for its guests, transforming part of the downstairs restaurant into a lively and lavish club with different DJs taking sets. Some upcoming well-known names set to perform include DJs Blond:ish and Jon Rocca.
Already, I started to feel out of place. I haven’t been to a proper bar or club in well over a year thanks to the pandemic, and have grown accustomed to tables limited to six people in the English pubs I frequent in my hometown of Crawley, just outside of London.
So this was a big step up. While I loved seeing the world get back to normal and enjoying some more lively nights out, I couldn’t help but feel out of place. The guests were decked out in designer clothing and all looked very comfortable and relaxed.
I, however, am not used to visiting such upmarket and exclusive venues, even pre-pandemic, so I felt distinctly out of place and like I was sticking out – despite the friendly, jovial, and merry atmosphere.
The rooftop bar had a more relaxed vibe, but equally deluxe surroundings
The rooftop bar, however, was much more my vibe. Brière told me that the bar, named Cloud Nine, always has a more “relaxed, chill” atmosphere than downstairs, and that was clear, although the deluxe surroundings did still radiate expense and extravagance.
Brière told me that they often host private events on the rooftop bar for various celebrities who visit Cannes, and once hosted a party for Leonardo DiCaprio and his famous pals.
Sadly, I didn’t see Leo or any other celebs during my brief visit to La Bâoli, but it is definitely the sort of venue you could see filled with A-listers.
COVID-19 restrictions haven’t been too bad for La Bâoli. The venue shuts down from October until March anyway, even in non-COVID times, as it’s a seasonal venue. Brière said it simply isn’t worth them being open for those months.
But it’s not the Cannes Film Festival that gives them their biggest business, unlike the hotel Le Majestic.
Instead, Brière said that a real-estate conference in March and an exclusive boat show in October are their big-business seasons.
“The real-estate [conference] is just for four days, but it’s a lot of people and they eat so much, drink so much,” Brière said, describing the sort of money-laden clients who would splash the cash in high-class places like La Bâoli. “It’s very important for us.”
I am definitely not one of those customers, however, and it would take a while for me to get used to such exclusive surroundings. La Bâoli is undoubtedly a treat to visit, and a beautiful place to enjoy a drink while gazing at the rest of Cannes – but for now, I may just stick to my low-key pubs in England.