Cannes: Yes, You Can Still Live It Up

No 10 Grand to Blow? Read on for Tips to Enjoy the Festival on the Cheap

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NEW YORK ( -- This year, much of the lavish hospitality and laissez-faire attitude toward expense accounts that made the Cannes Lions festival so much fun will be gone -- along with a couple of the biggest agency parties. So here are Ad Age's 10 tips for enjoying the festival if you still want to go but don't have $10,000 to spend (yes, that's what some agency networks used to budget per person for the week).

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1. Instead of dropping $70 on a cab to spend several hundred dollars on a meal at the legendary Colombe d'Or in St. Paul de Vence, stroll down Cannes' beachfront Croisette to the old port and dine on the marina-facing terrace of seafood joint Gaston et Gastounette. Or keep walking up the old town's steep narrow street to find charming restaurants such as La Mirabelle. (They're friendly, too. When La Mirabelle's credit-card machine broke down last year, the owner told our party of eight to pay the next day).

2. Rent a villa instead of staying at one of the four Palace hotels (Majestic, Carlton, Hilton and Martinez, at $344 for a rock-bottom standard room and $462 for a superior). The festival workers will help, because they're sick of you complaining you can't find a room or that it's too expensive. Check out for an official list of rental companies.

3. Cannes-goers used to be spoiled for choice among parties on yachts, in villas, on the beach and at the fanciest hotels. This year, there's a serious dearth of free food and drinks. Options:

Tag along with Lion winners. They're in a generous mood, the champagne will flow, and their expense accounts are less likely to be questioned given they're filling the trophy cabinet. Be an important American. USA Today, the U.S. festival rep, is still hosting its annual dinner in honor of the U.S. judges. But only about 100 people will be invited to that five-course meal at Moulins de Mougins, just outside Cannes.

There's food at post-show gala dinners. They're crowded, and unlike Moulins de Mougins, the food won't win any Michelin stars, but you paid for it with your registration fee.

4. Avoid places such as the Hotel du Cap and its Eden Roc restaurant in Cap d'Antibes. We've warned you before about the Hotel du Cap's $90 breakfast papaya, but this year appearance is everything, and networks know they've gone over the top in recent years. After sending 300 people to Cannes last year, TBWA initially pared the 2009 list to 70, and now it's down to seven, said CEO-President Tom Carroll.

5. A few places justify a splurge. The Carlton beach restaurant's lunch buffet isn't cheap, but you can sit for hours at a table by the beach surrounded by Cannes glitterati, eat unlimited food and avoid spending $25 on a hotel beach chair to sit in the sand a few feet away.

6. When splurging, time it right. See and be seen at the Carlton terrace between 6 p.m. and 8 p.m. and again around midnight. Then it's the Martinez, followed by the Gutter bar. Once you've been seen, go drink cheaply at Morrison's Irish Pub.

7. Take advantage of the week's 52 seminars at the Palais des Festivals. DDB is hosting a seminar with David Plouffe, President Barack Obama's campaign manager. Publicis Group Chairman-CEO Maurice Levy is interviewing Google chairman-CEO Eric Schmidt about the future, and WPP Chief Executive Martin Sorrell will moderate a recession-oriented debate with the CMOs of Procter & Gamble, McDonald's, Kraft Foods and Lloyds Banking Group.

8. Shop for food like the locals. Visit the two farmers markets or stock up at the Monoprix or the Casino supermarkets. They deliver!

9. The $20 bus from Nice airport to Cannes saves a cab fare of almost $100. If you'd hop a cab anyway, consider the Nice-Cannes helicopter at almost the same price.

10. For the real starvation-budget Cannes as practiced by some young European creatives, spend the week in a tent at the local campground.

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