So we’re here. We arrived in Cannes a half hour ago, not registered, not a single party invite between us, and with 32 euros, a van, a mattress and a well-chewed baguette. Lamborghinis whip past us, ladies in ball gowns move in herds down La Croissette, pretending their high-heeled feet aren’t killing them, overzealous security guards stand with beefy arms folded, looking very cross indeed. We are in the belly of the beast. We are going to make this burg ours.
First order of business. Park the van. Somewhere close to the action, cheap, where we can sleep overnight without beefy, cross security guards (see above) banging on our door in the middle of the night and hauling us off to the hoosegow for ruining the local aesthetic. It should be noooo problem, right?
Hahaha. Of course I knew it would be a problem. What am I, a moron? We found an underground lot near La Croisette. I did some quick math as I approached the ticket vendor with its complicated series of pricing options. It wasn’t cheap, but it wasn’t 2000 euros a night either, or whatever outrageous sum we’d be forking out if not for the mattress in the van. I grabbed the ticket and started to drive in, only to notice in the nick of time that the overhead barricade was alarmingly close to the top of the van. While I inched forward, hoping to sneak under, Sean jumped out and eyeballed my progress.
“Stop!” he yelled, putting an end to the sorry spectacle, while Lamborghinis honked their impatient little Italian horns behind me. No joy. A whole parking lot for the taking, and we were an inch too tall. Dammit.
I backed up, which made all those Lamborghini drivers even more unhappy. I did a U-turn in the middle of the road, while Sean covered his eyes in genuine horror, displaying a disturbing lack of trust in my driving skills. I turned into another lot. This time, before I got jammed under the barrier, my clever child grabbed a tape measure that was lying on our front seat and hopped out. (Let me note now that while it may seem that a tape measure is a random item for a van, I had a feeling we’d need one, and chucked it in there last minute as we left home. So the next time you are waiting for your mother/sister/wife to leave the house, and she’s obsessively running around making sure the stove is off, and the water’s not running and grabbing road snacks and tape measures, and you are whinging about how slow she is, remember this story, and go grab the tape measure yourself.) So, Clever Sean jumped out, measured the van’s height, and compared it to the notice on the barricade. Barricade 1.8 metres, Van 2 metres. Dammit. On we drove, amid more horn honks from Italian sports cars. Don’t they have an espresso to go drink somewhere?
Two car parks later, we finally struck gold. A barricade that said 2.2 metres on it, even closer to the Marche du Film action than any of the others. We snuck under, only to discover that once inside, all the barricades to the actual parking spots were at 1.8 metres. Tricky little buggers. As I was finagling my way around the sharp corner to the exit, some sort of attendant person ran out of his attendant kiosk and stopped me, and very kindly moved some traffic cones so I could park in the one spot on that level. Beside the exit, so no carbon monoxide fumes to be breathed in during the night, well-lit so we’d feel safe, a five minute stroll from La Croisette. It was even better than camping! Though those lights did play havoc with our stealth ability later that night while sneaking back in under the nose of the attendant, who I’m not sure would have welcomed us so readily if he’d known we were going to bunk down there.
Never mind. We were parked, we had nice clothes, sensible shoes and a target – the Scandinavian party. Allons-y!