I have always been told that I look younger than my real age - and some new research comes my way which clearly reveals why. I love shopping. And it concludes, shopping makes you feel young.
US researchers, at the Oregon State University, interviewed people in their late 80s, their family members and their carers, and discovered that old age seems to officially begin when you...stop shopping!
Great news - so I can carry on then? The study showed that when older people maintain the ability to shop for themselves, and perform other tasks on their own, they are less likely to be viewed and treated as "old."
So no excuses the to not accept an invitation to the Cannes Shopping Festival on the grounds that I write about anti-ageing! After all you've got to keep up the regular shopping habit to stay young - and this is vital information for my readers after all.
Palais des Festival in Cannes - the backdrop for the annual Shopping Festival
So I set off for Cannes on a shopping fact-finding-mission with a feeling of mixed emotions. I confess I have been there before - as a showbusiness journalist, working for a national newspaper, and I partially look back in horror, as it was the only time and place I ever wished I was on hard core drugs. OK I sank a lot of quality champagne instead...
Nearly decapitated in Cannes
With daily deadlines looming, filmstars and press conferences popping up everywhere, French taxi drivers who let down your tyres, press attaches who let in their old age pensioners to press conferences in preferance to real journalists, nearly being decapitated by paparazzi photographers who spotted me interviewing Bobby from Dallas, foreign journalists who think a scoop is asking Paul Newman about his pasta sauces, escaping the clutches of Hollywood film moguls, the inevitable rain and the only place to buy an umbrella is the Guicci shop - I knew I had to go! After all I may have dropped (from exhaustion) in Cannes but I had never really shopped.
Right from day one it was so deja vu. I am picked up from Nice airport by Palais des Festival chauffeur John who normally drives the stars - gawd if only I had known him when I was a showbiz hack I'd have been up there.
Cocktails and glamour
My intinerary for this event - which by the way is a public one - is three days of various activities around the theme of shopping: cocktail parties at all the exclusive boutiques I never had the time or money to visit, catwalk shows at the Palais des Festival, and various trips to local sites of interest and a helicopter trip around the Bay of Cannes and the local islands.
There are a mix of journalists here to cover the event. I am the only one from the UK - the rest are mostly Italian fashion journalists from Milan - who I didn't take to at first (one did the cookery class with her Guicci handbag on her shoulder) but grew very fond of later - when I knew how crazy they were - trying to hug the toy boy models and more! Oh and the Russians, one of whom arrived with an empty suitcase and spent all her time rushing into various designer shops to fill it up.
I stay at the Novotel - which is a smart hotel behind the town and where I remember interviewing the lovely and very handsome actor Simon MacCorkindale - US readers will remember him in Manamal. He sadly died of cancer in 2010. But others get to stay at some of the newer boutique hotels that have sprung up around the Rue des Antibes since I was there.
Fashion shows and glamour
So the next few days are a busy round of fashion shows (in the evenings) at the Palais with pre show drinks at the luxury boutiques not far away in the Croisette - Feraagamo, Azzaro, Georges Rech, Apostrophe and Swarovski. Oh how can I cope?
These are all my favourite designers - not that I can afford the gear when I should be putting money into my pension(boring!). But great fun to role up in a chauffeured limo...until you see the locals which shocked me when I first went to the Cote'd'Azur - those stick thin elderly women with osteoporosis who look young from behind and like Norma from Psycho from the front! Oh and one thing that doesn't change is the dog (poodle) mess - so watch out for that!
So I take a break and wander along to the Palais - there is now a Hagan Daas ice cream shop right opposite the red carpet. God I hated that red carpet - being a no-one that everyone looked at and said who the f--k is that in French or whatever...and I thought I might fall down the stairs in front of millions of people. So I took a seat ordered myself a glass of champagne and a scoop of the vanilla with some milk chocolate sauce sat down and wondered about the meyhem that would be taking place in a few days and that luckily I would not be part of. Phew!
Cannes Shopping Festival First Night
The highlight of the catwalk shows during my visit was the Ferragamo show - and I don't have photos of this because cameras were confisgated.
The Festival also showcases new talent and I came away the owner of a very inappropriate dress for a lady of my age - see below (the designer is wearing it).
Yes - I am the proud owner of the dress on the right which to date I have never worn! I am open to offers! It's backless by the way.
One of the most exciting things I learned about was the food market near the station. Clearly when I had been before I didn't time to see it. But the fresh food and the variety and quality of it is amazing. There's another non-food market selling shoes that look like Tod's for $20.
Cannes market - so much fresh quality vegetables and fruit
The point of the festival is also to show you that it doesn't have to be expensive to stay in Cannes - there are lots of great hotels that don't cost the earth and Bed & Breakfast places - the tourist office below the Palais has a list.
And there is a street right behind the expensive Rue de Antibes where you can find great clothes and shoes at regular and bargain prices. During the festival there are also various discounts for Shopping Festival partipants.
It's a great way and time to visit Cannes before the prices get inflated for the Film Festival. This year's Shopping Festival took place earlier this year (29-31 March). But there's always next year!
And I have to leave you with this photo - one of the Italian girls slipped off her very high heels - and they glittered in the sunshine on the beach in April and it was hot, the rose wine was chilling in silver cooler and we watched a fashion show on the beach....
And I leave you with this view which I remember so vividly and I didn't want to go home!
Cannes beach restaurant and the Alpes Maritime in the background
Amazon Price: $53.58 Buy Now
(price as of Sep 20, 2013)