Cannes sheds its black tie image for G20 riot gear

Wed Nov 2, 2011 6:10am EDT
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By Nicholas Vinocur

CANNES, France (Reuters) - The glamorous and easy-going Riviera resort of Cannes turns into a fortified camp this week as French police prepare for the arrival of world leaders for a G20 summit set to be hijacked by fears that a euro zone crisis relief plan is unraveling.

Thousands of extra police have been deployed along the Mediterranean coast to stop protestors traveling the 30 km (19 miles) down from Nice, where they are being kept at arm's length, and sparking clashes that could disrupt the gathering.

Police have sealed off Cannes' mythical waterfront drag, set up a second security perimeter around the old town and told 'Cannois' locals aged over 12 they must wear identity badges to move around their own city during the Nov 3-4 summit.

Tight security is common at "G" summits. But the sight of military-style troop maneuvers on the 'Croisette' beachfront is particularly striking, given that Cannes is better known as the setting for a star-studded film festival held each May.

Hotels usually filled with movie professionals and Hollywood A-listers, such as the Carlton and the Martinez, are behind a police cordon in "Zone 1" -- the inner sanctum of the G20 -- and filled exclusively with G20 professionals for the week.

Boating is forbidden throughout the summit in Cannes harbor, where some of the world's largest yachts dock during the festival, and schools in the security zone stay closed for an extra four days after All Saints holidays this week.

Most restaurants in the warren of streets behind the Croisette will be closed for lack of customers, as only badged professionals are allowed near. For those inside the G20 world, hotels can provide a list of open restaurants.

Reinforcing the gloomy imagery, France's national weather service forecasts two days of grey skies, rain and stronger-than-usual winds on Thursday and Friday.   Continued...

<p>Security make their way down the promenade near the festival palace in Cannes, southern France November 1, 2011. REUTERS/Dylan Martinez</p>