Freak storms hit Riviera ahead of Cannes film festival

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Authorities in the French cities of Cannes and Nice began cleaning up beaches Wednesday after giant waves washed away seaside restaurants and installations days before the Cannes film festival kicks off.

In Cannes, waves measuring up to six metres (18 feet) at times on Tuesday "caused millions of euros of damage," said the head of city services Alain Jouanjus.

"There has been major damage," city councillor David Lisnard told AFP. "But we are cleaning up. Everything will be ready in time for the festival."

The 12-day festival, running May 12-23, is the film world's biggest annual binge, bringing some 10,000 movie types and 4,000 press to the event.

Much of the action throughout takes place along the palm-fringed beach, with restaurants, clubs and even movie screens installed on the sand.

"We were only just beginning to set up," said Lisnard. "We'll need several days to clean up but it should all be ready on time, safe, sound and clean."

In Nice, officials said around 15 restaurants were damaged, causing owners tens of thousands of euros (dollars) of damage.

© 2010 AFP

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