Monica Bellucci the ceremony's host, Patrice Chéreau the jury's president and Gina Lollobrigida a surprise guest star made up the incredible line up which opened the 56th Cannes Film Festival.
The place to be and to be seen was on Cannes' mythical sun-drenched red carpet, where a panoply of bronzed beauties and international stars strode up to the Palace's beckoning gates, acclaimed by an ecstatic crowd.
The jury were the first to regale us, followed swiftly by the cast of Fanfan La Tulipe headed by the "Spanish enchantress" Penelope Cruz, dressed from head to toe in black. The original Adeline de la Franchise played by Gina Lollobrigida in 1952, was there by her side, as glamorous as ever.
Inside the Grand Theatre Lumiere the opening-night ceremony got under way, under the aegis of the voluptious Italian actress Monica Bellucci who stars in the long awaited sequel Matrix Reloaded which premieres in Cannes on the 15th May. But it was Vincent Perez and Penelope Cruz who did the honour of officially opening the 56th Cannes Film Festival first in French, Spanish and then in English.
Screened out of competition late last night and already opened in theatres nationwide was the Gallic appetizer Fanfan La Tulipe. A remake of Christian-Jacque's 1952 swashbuckler which won the best director prize at Cannes in the same year. This highly entertaining costume drama full of adventure, comedy and romance certainly brings back to life this 18th century imaginary hero, so much a part of French heritage.