Three Days in Cannes 2023: The Cannes Film Festival Experience Recapped

Three Days in Cannes 2023: The Cannes Film Festival Experience Recapped


9 min read

Attending the Cannes Film Festival was a long-time dream of mine, and I finally went in 2023. I got this opportunity to attend through the festival's 3 Days in Cannes program. I hope sharing my experience in this post convinces you to apply for the 3 Days program, and prepares you for your own trip to the Cannes Film Festival.

I went to Cannes with a group of four. We had some concerns about not being able to get tickets or being forced to split up and watch movies separately. As you'll see in this post, we watched almost all our movies together and had a great time.

We jam-packed our three days — we watched ten movies in total. This might not be everyone's style, since it can get exhausting. There's many ways to enjoy your time at Cannes, and this is just one of them!

If you're looking for help with planning your own trip to Cannes, check out my post The Ultimate Cannes Film Festival Guide.

Arriving the day before


Our group met up at the Cannes train station, flying in from NYC or Lisbon earlier that day. We were varying levels of jet lagged, which became a problem during the festival, where we wished we could stay more awake.

The machines for buying a train ticket were confusing. You need to press the unmarked middle circle button to select your options. You must select a “From” station even though there’s obviously only one option, the station you are at.

After arriving in Cannes, we dropped our luggage off at the apartment we booked. This apartment was less than a 10 minute walk from the main theaters, which was amazing for taking quick breaks throughout our time here. There was also a great bakery right below the apartment that we went to every morning!


After grabbing lunch, we picked up our badges from the badge office. We then checked out the gift shop, which I recommend. The official program guide, posters, hats, tote bags, and other merchandise are all quite nice. Show your badge at the gift shop for 20% off!


After dinner, we slept early because we were so exhausted from our flights.

Day 1

On Day 1, most of our group had 3 movie tickets that we got beforehand. Most of us watched 4 movies this day. Every movie we watched was from a different country: France, Finland, Japan, and America! Due to jet lag, we were fighting to stay awake all day, even when we were enjoying the movies we watched.


The Taste of Things, 9:00–11:25am

We lined up in the Last Minute Line for a 9am screening of French film The Taste of Things (which at the time had no English name, so we knew it as The Pot-au-Feu. We prefer this name!). We arrived at 8am and got in very early — morning screenings are easy to get into without a ticket. This screening was at the Grand Théâtre Lumière, which is the most iconic venue at Cannes. We entered through the famous red carpet, where we quickly snuck some pictures.

The auditorium itself is gigantic and opulent, with a whole squad of elegantly uniformed ushers guiding audience traffic. The beauty of this theater really set the tone for the film festival experience. The movie itself was also gorgeous. The Taste of Things had many beautiful depictions of cooking elaborate feasts, so we were very ready for lunch by the end of it.


Fallen Leaves, 1:15–2:36pm

After lunch, we constantly refreshed the ticket website to see if we can get into more screenings — we had nothing lined up for Day 2 in the afternoon. Tickets become available whenever existing ticket holders choose to release them. We luckily were all able to get tickets to La Chimera's world premiere screening! None of our prior tickets were premieres, so we were stoked.

After a quick rest, we went to our second movie of the day, the Finnish film Fallen Leaves. The screening was at Les Arcades, a theater specific to members of the 3 Days in Cannes program, which made tickets easier to get in advance. Only those attending the last 3 days of Cannes get this Les Arcades perk. Unlike the Grand Théâtre Lumière, Les Arcades was more like a regular movie theater. One of us didn't have tickets in advance for this movie, but got it from regularly refreshing the ticket page the day before.


Monster, 4:50–6:55pmMay December, 7:15–9:08pm

We ate a small early meal and then went to our evening screenings. Most of our group watched Monster and May December back-to-back at Les Arcades. It's required to exit the building and re-queue to get into the second screening. One of us didn't have tickets to either, but got into May December via the Last Minute Line.

We were still hungry after this long day, and grabbed another small meal before going to bed.

My personal favorite film of this day was May December. Todd Haynes is an amazing director, and all 3 of the main cast (Natalie Portman, Julianne Moore, and Charles Melton) delivered great performances.

Day 2

Our group watched three films on this day. We got tickets through a variety of ways: tickets we had in advance for Les Arcades screenings, refreshing the ticket website during Day 1, and the Last Minute Line. Most of the group got to attend two world premiere screenings!


The Zone of Interest, 11:10am–12:56pm

The first film of the day was later in the morning, so fitting in a 9am screening would have been too tight. After an ambitious and jetlagged Day 1, we really needed more sleep anyway. Our first film on Day 2 was The Zone of Interest at Les Arcades. It's a brutal movie to start the day off with, but was a uniquely moving, haunting experience.


La Chimera (world premiere), 3:30–5:40pm

After lunch, we went back to the apartment to get dressed up. While only evening screenings require formal attire, we were planning to line up in the Last Minute Line right after our next movie, meaning the second of our back-to-back screenings was in the evening. There would be no time to change in between.

In our suits and dresses, we attended the world premiere of La Chimera at the Grand Théâtre Lumière. The cast and crew were in attendance, and we got to witness Cannes Film Festival's famous standing ovations. Because of our plan to get to the Last Minute Line, some of us left right when the credits rolled. Some of us stayed to see the director make some remarks, then joined the others in line.


The Old Oak (world premiere), 6:30–8:23pm –OR– Anatomy of a Fall, 8:05–10:36pm

Our next stop was the Last Minute Line for the world premiere of The Old Oak. Despite being a premiere evening screening, we waited only about an hour to get in. Unfortunately, I was wearing a regular tie and not a bow tie. When we reached the front of the line, the staff told me that I was violating the dress code and was not allowed in. If you're wearing a suit to an evening screening, make sure to bring a bow tie!

While I personally failed to attend an evening premiere, I had a back-up ticket at Les Arcades to see the French film Anatomy of a Fall, which ended up being my favorite movie of Day 2. This film ended up winning the main prize of the festival, the Palme D'or!

Day 3

On this day, most of our group watched 2 movies. We also watched the closing ceremony, which was a great way to cap off the trip. We had trouble getting any advanced tickets for this day, but got tickets from the WhatsApp group and from the Last Minute line.


Perfect Days, 8:30–10:33amAnatomy of a Fall, 11:00am–1:31pm

We got last-minute tickets to the Japanese film Perfect Days from the WhatsApp group for 3 Days attendees. People tend to give away morning screenings in this chat because the ticketing system is not open until later in the morning, and you are penalized for having unused tickets. It's impossible to release these tickets via the ticketing system the morning-of. We probably could have gotten in via the Last Minute Line as well. Perfect Days was my favorite movie from the entire festival!

Since I was the only one who watched Anatomy of a Fall the day before, the rest of the group tried to use the Last Minute Line right after Perfect Days. Unfortunately, this time the line was clearly too long, so we gave up.

While we were eating brunch, we saw that someone in the WhatsApp chat was giving away a ticket to Anatomy of a Fall. One of us luckily claimed it, and the rest of us went back to the apartment to relax.


Asteroid City, 3:15–4:59pm

We last-minute decided to give up the existing tickets we had, and instead try the Last Minute Line for Wes Anderson's Asteroid City. We originally weren't planning to watch this at Cannes because it would release in New York City the next week. We changed our minds because we wanted the last film of our Cannes trip to be a more fun, lighthearted one. We had plenty of time to kill, so lining up wasn't much of a sacrifice.

We lined up 2 hours before the movie, and were one of the first groups in line. We could have likely arrived later and still gotten in. Unfortunately, the day was very sunny and hot, and the line was not in the shade. I recommend bringing a sun parasol to make this experience more bearable.


Closing Ceremony, 8:30pm

After Asteroid City, we visited to the statue of the Cannes Film Festival logo for some photos, then got dinner and ice cream.

We considered lining up for the Closing Ceremony, but the line is incredibly long. We guessed we needed at least 4 hours to guarantee getting in (and I didn't have proper attire anyway). We loitered near the front of the line and actually witnessed someone else get kicked out for not wearing a bow tie.

Instead of trying to get into the ceremony, we stood outside near the red carpet, where they had screens live-streaming the event inside. This experience was very fun, and was a great substitute to attending in the theater.

The day after

After a very fulfilling but exhausting three days, we left Cannes. To make the most of our time in Europe, some of our group headed to Paris, and some of our group caught a flight to Italy.

I hope this post helps illustrate how much you can do during your 3 Days in Cannes. It's incredibly fun be amongst the first audiences to ever watch these amazing movies from around the world!

If you're looking for help with planning your own trip to Cannes, check out my post The Ultimate Cannes Film Festival Guide.