Cards on the table. I’m a MIPIM fan. It has its detractors – Massive International Piss-up in the Med and all that – and true enough, it’s one for those who enjoy the social side of property. But property’s a people business, and if you’re doing MIPIM right, you’ll put your shoe leather through its paces every bit as much as your liver.
2016 will be the 11th time I’ve covered MIPIM. The first few years I went, it was ludicrous. The UK cities all had yachts, on top of the exhibition stands and apartments. There was champagne everywhere, and some frankly barmy talk. Leeds went out on a limb talking up how it was topping Manchester to have western Europe’s highest living spaces, with Lumiere. If you’ve not heard of it, that’s because it didn’t happen. Jumped the gun a bit, there.
After the roof fell in, things changed a bit. Some cities disappeared completely, which seemed to be an admission that they never really believed their own hype. There were a couple of subdued years for the UK delegation, during which Russia and their mineral-rich former Soviet partners stepped forward.
The re-emergence of the UK cities has brought with it a more cerebral approach. Cities promoting their ideas and fleshing out the reasons investors should take a look, rather than just blithely talking up sites and shiny models. Now the market is buoyant again, it will be interesting to see if the cerebral mood remains, or if it’s more an air of celebration.
So – in those years, what’s been learned about how to get around Cannes without burning yourself out mentally and physically? Read on…
I’ve stayed in pretty much every corner of Cannes, although if you have the budget to book one of the top end hotels there’s frankly nothing I can do for you. If you’re leaving it late to book, you might be offered stuff out of town – I’d avoid these, the trains don’t run late into the night and finding taxis can be murder. The furthest out you want to be is La Bocca, which has a courtesy bus service, but to which taxis are only €20 or so.
You probably don’t need worry too much about how nice the place looks – you’re not likely to be using it for much more than sleeping and showering.
One of the great myths of MIPIM is that you have to book your accommodation for the whole week – this may be the case through the main booking agents, but in the last few years I’ve used booking.com and have been able to book just the nights I need. That said, there’s plenty to see if you want to stay on for a few days, from beautiful seaside villages to Nice, or even this year, the end of the Milan-San Remo race for cycling fans, just over the Italian border.
People always say “book yourself lots of meetings, but leave enough space to arrange things on the spot”. It’s true, you do need some sort of plan, but also time to spare, so you can turn chance encounters with contacts old or new into potential business.
Keep on the move. Really, the hard-working, event-heavy part of the week only runs from Tuesday lunchtime through to Thursday afternoon. Pack stuff in – wander the stands. Have a look at the MIPIM website before or during to see what looks interesting outside your immediate circle. Every year I see some people hanging around with the same people they spend all their time in Manchester with. They must get something out of it, but for the life of me I can’t see what.
Food and drink
The restaurants that line Boulevard de la Croisette, the main seafront stretch that houses the Palais des Festivals (where the event actually takes place) do fill up, not unsurprisingly given that there’s 30,000 or so property bods in town, all of whom need feeding.
You’re well advised to look away from the front. Use Rue d’Antibes, the main shopping drag, to get your bearings and work from there. There are loads of decent places on and around Rue Hoche, which you can reach by heading up Rue des Serbes from the Croisette.
Ten minutes away, heading west around the harbour, restaurants tend to be quieter, and if you head around the Radisson Blu onto the Boulevard du Midi Jean Hibert you’ll find sea view restaurants for a spot of lunch – as good as the beach restaurants, if you disregard the traffic in between you and the beach. It’s also worth heading up hill to the streets around the market hall, where there are lots of little bistros.
“It’s going to cost you…”
Cannes is not cheap. But the week needn’t cost you the earth, unless you’ve agreed to foot the bill for lunch before realising it’s going to be for a boozy table of 20 at the Grand Hotel’s Michelin-starred Le Park 45. Of course drinks will cost you a hefty sum at the Martinez, but there are tons of bars where you can grab a beer for €5 or so. Mix it up. If you’ve not got a dinner arranged, you can find pizza and pasta places (one of the benefits of being so close to Italy) all over the town. And if you’re after a lunch in a hurry, the blue and white sandwich kiosks on the promenade have a ready supply of baguettes and croquet-monsieurs.
There you go – enjoy Cannes!