I've been coming for the past 10 years. Ps: it's pronounced "can"
  1. BADGES: you will absolutely need a badge. Why are you going? Most jobs will get your badge for you. If they're not, you have options:
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    1. Festival badge: free! Register in Feb & be notified in April if you've been accepted. This is general film industry. You need a card, a website, a picture, and a clear "reason" for attending that isn't: 2. The Marché: you have 300€ to throw around? GET THIS BADGE. This claims you're here to buy or sell. You have ticket priority over everyone else that isn't a Weinstein. 3. Press/Photo: unless you're actually going as a writer/photographer/have someone who is already paying you, don't bother.
  2. FILMS: what kind of badge do you have?
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    Press: press screenings, dummy. First come, first served. Festival: you'll use an online system that is very broken and pray for tickets. Also: the option of "seance du lendeman" (day after screening). Don't attempt to get in line if you're behind the blue structure in that picture. You will wait two hours and be turned away because there is a secret press line you can't see. This is at the Salle du Soixantieme (swa-zahn-TEAM). Marché: bet you're glad you got one of these! Priority choice!
  3. FILMS, PART TWO: look at it like you're a contestant on The Bachelor. You're here for the "right reasons", but you're also "not here to make friends". Lines for most films don't seem to exist in any reasonable way, so be prepared to get scrappy and force your way to the front before the major crush starts.
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    Outside of the general badge access films - you'll get a comprehensive list at check in, and also have access to daily screening guides - you have the galas. These are the red carpet screenings you need a ticket to. These are all in the Grand Théâtre Lumiere. Strict dress code enforced.
  4. PARTIES: this is on you, man. You have to be connected. If you're not connected? You've got to be young, attractive, and not a creep OR very, very sneaky. OR a fun combination of all four!
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    Yacht parties might seem glamorous, but if you're a woman expect to be confused for a prostitute. If you're a man, expect to have everyone assume you're here for a prostitute. Beach parties are the best (don't drown!), followed by villa parties (don't get Disappeared!), followed by hotel parties (don't balk at the 45€ price tag for a kir royale), followed by yacht parties (don't compromise your morals!), followed by partying with some teens on a street corner 20 minutes out of town.
  5. FREE FOOD AND DRINKS: quick answer: go to the pavilions. Every country has a pavilion, and one is always bound to have gratis food and drinks.
    Long answer: hang around the front of the marché at happy hour and wait until you hear Italian accents and follow them wherever they go. But really, all you have to do is wander around the booths of the marché until you see food and then you take it. The end!
  6. PAVILIONS: see those white peaks? Those are glorified tents, aka Pavilions. Every single country has one.
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    The American Pavilion is the largest one. It's also the only one that doesn't get funded by the govt, and therefore charges a membership for any entry at all. Don't pay for this, members get a handful of day passes. Make friends with one and use these instead. The rest are free, and some have a small ancillary area (for a fee) for people who'd like to conduct meetings. Most have free wifi and receptions with free alcohol. Easy to spend a very interesting afternoon cruising each one.
  7. THE MARCHÉ: the size of two football fields stacked on top of each other, this is where companies go to buy or sell films to different territories.
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    This place is insane. It's nothing but tiny booths covered in film posters and dishes of candy and flat screen TVs and plastic chairs. Everything here, it seems, is made of plastic. It's loud and very crowded and hectic and you'll fall in love with a beautiful stranger who has an indistinguishable accent 5 times an hour. This is also where the bathrooms are, so keep that in mind when you're getting drunk in a pavilion, where they don't have a bathroom (outside of the ocean).
  8. Come hang with ZK and PD on balcony & drink rosé
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    Suggested by @zoe