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French Riviera tourism: A post-pandemic crisis


France’s confinement ends on 11 May, but that doesn’t mean a return to normality. Restaurants, cafes, bars, hotels and performing arts centres still have no clear date of reopening. It is the tourism sector (worldwide) that will be hit the hardest out of this crisis and there is a spreading concern for the future of our local businesses. Tourism counts for 20% of France’s GDP and a large percentage of that comes from the Côte d’Azur. During a recent web meeting of the local business association Telecom Valley and the Nice Côte d'Azur Chamber of Commerce (CCI), tourism officer Michel Chevillon described the situation as dramatic. "We still don't know if, when and how we can resume our activities," he said. "25 to 40 per cent of all operators will find it difficult to even reopen their facilities.” When you consider 175,000 people are directly or indirectly employed in the tourism sector in the Côte d'Azur alone, it’s a staggering thought. 

Of course, the loss of lives and the effect on families who now face life without a loved one is not something the can be measured. And the loss of life has been great—at writing, the death toll in France stands at 25,531. 

But it is the collateral damage of this virus that has yet to be seen. Economically, the cancellation of all events - a massive category including sporting events, music festivals, trade shows, industry festivals and more - will have devastating effects for a while to come. 

Here’s a look at the biggest local events cancelled & postponed:


  • MIPIM International Real Estate Market (Cannes)
  • Rolex Monte-Carlo Masters
  • The Gazelles (Nice)
  • Monaco Grand Prix
  • MipTV International Television industry show (Cannes)
  • Midem (Cannes)
  • Sohn Monaco Investment Conference
  • Monte-Carlo TV Festival
  • Top Marques Luxury car show (Monaco)
  • Manifesta 13 (Marseille)
  • Nice Jazz Festival
  • L’Heures Musical festival in Biot
  • Jazz à Juan music festival (Juan-les-Pins)
  • Iggy Pop concert (Marseille)
  • Celine Dion concert (Monaco)
  • Cannes Lions Festival of Creativity (Cannes)
  • Cannes Film Festival
  • Tax-Free World Salon
  • All concerts and performances by Orchestras 
  • All ballet performances 
  • All concerts at small venues
  • All theatre, dance and opera performances


  • Track World Champions (July - tentative)
  • Tour de France (29 Aug - 20 Sept)
  • Cannes Yachting Festival (8 - 13 Sept)
  • Les Voiles d’Antibes (16 - 20 Sept)
  • EVER Monaco (10 - 12 Sept)
  • Canneseries (9 - 14 Oct)
  • Canneseries Insititute (19 Oct - 7 Nov)
  • Fête du Miel Mouans-Sartoux (TBA)
  • Club Vivanova Gala (14 Nov)
  • Chef’s World Summit (29 Nov - 1 Dec)

Cannes has been particularly hit by these cancellations. Known around the world as the top destination for industry trade shows and festivals, Cannes welcomes millions of visitors each year. These events generate hundreds of millions of euros of revenue for the local economy. Beyond the obvious hotels and restaurants, it is also the retail shops, the taxi drivers, the holiday flat renters, the event space carpenters, the event planners, the florists, the caterers, and the innumerable back-of-house staff who work tirelessly to support these events who are facing several months without any income. 

#cannesrepartonsDavid Lisnard, the mayor of Cannes, was swift to demand a clear plan. He called for a ‘Marshall Plan’ for tourism in an open letter to the government. You can read his letter, in English, here. Mayor Lisnard also created a fund called #HelpCommerces to provide support to those particularly struggling from this crisis. (To make a donation to #HelpCommerces, email: ) 

The city has also launched a ‘shop local’ campaign to encourage all Cannes residents to make their purchases locally. The press release states: “Beyond the necessary support to the shopkeepers, this communication campaign also aims to restore the social link and human interactions essential to the restarting of social life while respecting essential barrier gestures.”

We can all do our part to help: be conscious of supporting local businesses and food suppliers. Shopping at local grocers and eating more often from local restaurants offering takeaway are small but helpful ways to contribute. Travel is unsure for the foreseeable future, so plan on staying local for your upcoming holiday and enjoy what the whole world dreams of coming to the Côte d'Azur for.  

**Update: The Prime Minister has announced a tentative reopening date of 2 June for restaurants and bars. Final decision will be made at the end of May. The Côte d'Azur Tourism board has created an emergency action plan for supporting local tourism. An article will follow with details.