21 MAY 2007

"After playing the Queen I'm desperate not to look like her," admitted the stunning 61-year-old as she attended the premiere of French film To Each His Cinema. "I want everyone to look at me and go 'How could she be the Queen? She doesn't look anything like her'."

Dame Helen was just one of a host of leading ladies donning their Tinseltown finery at the festival this weekend. Also getting lenses clicking was the perennially young Sharon Stone, and socialite Jemima Khan. Hugh Grant's former girlfriend joined luminaries from the worlds of fashion, film and music at a glitzy magazine bash, rubbing shoulders with the likes of Mickey Rourke and his pretty girlfriend, model Christine Myers, and British crooner James Blunt - who was snapped with Mischa Barton.

The 33-year-old Grammy-nominee certainly hasn't been short of female company during his time at the festival. On Friday he was pictured strolling barefoot along the waterfront with a blonde companion, and later took a boat ride with a group of pals.

James' laidback holiday approach isn't surprising considering the many delights Cannes has to offer. It may be best known for the annual film festival, but the French Riviera locale has a lot more to offer holidaymakers than the famous faces drawn by its cine action.

Long after the red carpet has been rolled up visitors can hang out on the golden sand beach, people-watch in the yacht-packed marina and try a cocktail or two in one of the many beachside bars just feet away from the sparkling waters of the Mediterranean.

Scaling the 116 steps in the tower of the Musée de la Castre, a medieval castle that now plays host to a diverse mix of artwork, offers the best view of the city. And for those wanting to take home a piece of Cannes style, La Croisette, the café-lined street which runs along the shore is a must with its many upmarket boutiques and designer outlets, including Gucci and Christian Lacroix.

Photo: AFP
Her portrayal of the Queen had film audiences convinced, but the elegant actress, who stepped out in a flattering yellow creation during the weekend at Cannes, is keen to distance herself from the British monarch in the style stakes
Photo: Rex
Also turning heads was socialite Jemima Khan, svelte in a figure-hugging white gown
Photo: Rex
Mischa Barton, who was snapped with British singer James Blunt, looked every inch a Grecian goddess in a cream strapless number