The first Palais des Festivals et des Congrès was a building built in 1949 to host the Cannes Film Festival. The original building was located on the boulevard of Promenade de la Croisette on the present site of the JW Marriott Cannes. In response to the growing success of the Festival and the advent of the first business conventions, such as the MIPTV Media Market since 1965, the City of Cannes decided to build a new Palais in 1979. The new building, designed by the architects Bennett & Druet and constructed on the site of the municipal Casino, opened in December 1982 and expanded in 1999 with the construction of the Espace Riviera, a new space of 10,000 square meters. Today, the Palais des Festivals has an overall space capacity of 25,000 square meters for exhibitions, which is used for exhibitions, as well as numerous rooms and 18 auditoriums. The original building hosted the 4th and 6thEurovision Song Contests in 1959 and 1961.
In January 1992, the Society of Mixed Economy for the Events of the city of Cannes (SEMEC), was created to manage the Palais. SEMEC is the merger of three non-profit organizations: Cannes Tourism, the OMACC and the association Cannes Palais des Festivals et des Congrès. Under the auspices of the city of Cannes, SEMEC's various responsibilities in the domain of public service include the promotion of Cannes by developing leisure tourism for individuals and groups, the marketing of business tourism and the management of the Convention and Visitors Bureau, the Palais des Festivals et des Congrès, and Cannes cultural events. SEMEC has a budget of 2.3 million Euros, 80% of which is earmarked for Cannes’ public sector. The rest is used for the city’s private sector of local partners in tourist development (palaces, destination management companies, the Caisse d’Epargne and the Chamber of Commerce and Industry).