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Cannes Par Jour: Day 0

Sex Doll Airbnb Hell: Just Flawed, That’s It

A view from the Palais des Festivals at the Cannes Film Festival.

Cannes reporters Mila Gauvin II and Caroline A. Tsai offer a daily blog round-up from the 71st annual Cannes Film Festival in France.

If you asked me what I thought I’d be doing on the first day of Cannes, my answer would have been sipping rosé with Timothée Chalamet on the Croisette and collecting designer-business cards from the Hollywood nouveau riche by the stack, on the prowl for last-minute summer internships. Or maybe I would be glamming up for a glitzy after-party and tottering around in Louboutins, or exchanging numbers with Cate Blanchett and double-cheek-kissing George Clooney. Bises, à la Française! (In all of these visions I’m, like, 20 pounds lighter, super outgoing, and really enjoy piloxing and “superfoods.”)

Instead, I ended up sobbing in a stranger’s bathtub at 10 p.m., hypoglycemic.

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Record scratch. Freeze frame. So you’re probably wondering how I got here.

Upon our arrival in the Nice airport at 5:30 p.m., we watched the same four Louis Vuitton suitcases circle Baggage Claim Six until I was willing to admit that my checked bag was probably somehow lost during our transit from London Heathrow to Nice, tragically in checked-bag limbo. Most likely floating aimlessly in the English Channel. Despite what the city of Nice might suggest, this revelation was not, in fact, nice. A gate agent informed us through gritted teeth that we had two options: We could either leave on our free journalists’ shuttle to Cannes, catch the premiere of the opening movie (Farhadi’s “Everybody Knows”), and chance a morning luggage delivery from the airport (which, in all likelihood, would be a total flop (!) since it was le festival and everyone and their cat was waiting for a “missing” luggage. Everyone and their glamorous, purebred cats with their cat-sized Louis Vuitton suitcases). Or we could wait until 8 p.m. for the missing luggage to be delivered on the next flight from London, then hop on the train (which cost no more than five euros, tops) to Cannes around 8:30.

After vividly imagining myself turning up to a red carpet premiere in the clothes in my carry-on (a Harry Styles: Live on Tour T-shirt and sweatpants with HARVARD on the butt), I decide that Mila and I will wait for the luggage, with the full knowledge that we are missing the red carpet premiere of “Everybody Knows.” Sorry Penelope Cruz! Finally, the moment of truth arrives, and after several harrowing moments of cop-outs, the One True Luggage with the rainbow band appears on the conveyor belt, like manna from heaven, on Baggage Claim Six. Miracle of miracles!

With all three hefty luggages in tow, Mila and I finally escape the Sixth Circle of Hell and, after a few directions from a well-meaning gate agent, emerge cheerfully into the Seventh: a convoluted schema of cartoonishly crooked sign-posts toward the Gare St. Augustin. Meanwhile, it’s getting dark, and Google Maps says we’re, like, thiiiiiiiiis close to the station—just cross the highway with perpetually oncoming traffic!

In a death-defying game of Human Frogger, Mila and I cross the highway, fat American Samsonites in tow, all the while continually screaming. Drivers give us the stink eye, as if they’re somehow above sprinting in front of moving vehicles. At last, I can see the pink SNCF about 100 feet ahead, when behind me, Mila calls my name.

A passerby has alerted her that the SNCF workers are all on strike, and there will not be another train to Cannes until 5 a.m. the next morning.

At this point, I’m partially ready to run back to the highway and throw myself into moving traffic, but Mila takes charge and recommends that we call an Uber. It’s 55 euros, but it’s also getting dark and Cannes is miles away, so we board a Peugeot and get whisked off to Cannes, where the romantic Riviera adventure can finally start, in all its rosé-drinking, Chalamet-schmoozing glory. Right?

Wrong. When we get dropped off at the hotel where our Airbnb host works, all the ushers begin stacking our luggage on a bellhop cart and welcoming us to the festival. Context: This hotel is the kind of hotel where paparazzi stake out outside to catch actresses getting into their Mercedes, flanked on either side by security detail. Every visible surface is made of marble. They’re treating us like we’re undercover celebs sporting college gear and sneakers to blend in with the proletariat. When we inform them it’s not a costume, they look confused, alarmed. Who are we, and what are we doing here?

Tension mounts. We’re sitting on furniture that costs more than our tuition. The staff keep nervously glancing at us, as if every time they look away, we might have dematerialized into thin air. But every time they check—damn it—they’re dismayed to find that we are still there.

Finally, the host appears. She looks nervous. Did the staff see us come in with our bags? They did? Oh, god. Keep calm and follow me out of here.

Wondering whether we have accidentally signed up to be accomplices in a heist of some kind, we wordlessly follow her out of the lobby. She turns to face us and holds a key. In very rapid, very confusing French, she instructs us that we must cross a street, then stay to the left. To the left there is a seafood restaurant and an aesthetic shop (“An aesthetic?” Mila repeats in French. “Like... for skin? For nails?” “Aesthetic,” she replies cryptically, as though we should know this already). Keep going. Keep going. And you will see it: the building. Go to the first floor. It’s the apartment that’s right there. On the right. Does that make sense? Do we understand?

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