MIPIM 2011: Day 2
9 March 2011
As my MIPIM train rolls into Aix, I notice that inside me there is A Year in Provence struggling to get out.
March 9th, 09:00
Bruce Dear, Head of London Real Estate, Eversheds
It’s a lovely dream: our children happily settled at the local lycee, my wife Katharine and I renovating an ancient yellow farmhouse (it mysteriously becomes our very own 3 Michelin Star restaurant-with apparently no effort at all) and then,of course, we never have to worry again…Years of long walks in the hills and large glasses of red wine, until, we both finally fall asleep aged 102.
It sounds wonderful and I can see it all out of the train window now.
“But”, you say,”snap out of it Bruce-the kids would hate it and you’d run of money after ten months and your French is appalling and always will be and the locals would laugh at you.”
OK…so now it’s last night and I am in the incredible L’Affable Restaurant on Rue Lafontaine with the charming and charismatic Katherine Laurenson of L and G,my partner Gurjit Atwal and some great developers and property company guys like Kieran Leahy.
Its an absolutely delightful meal: I have the scallops,a beef fillet and an extraordinary and perfect souffle.
But bizarrely, we are interrupted in the middle of the main course by a highly efficient French lady in half moon glasses:
“You are Eversheds?”
“Er, yes”“I am your organiser in Cannes. I booked this restaurant for you.”
“Great, thank you, it’s brilliant.”
“No, you do not understand. I am here tonight to clarify Eversheds administrative arrangements for the rest of the week. For example, how many people do you have for lunch at the Majestic tomorrow with your partner William Naunton?”
“Erm, is this the best time to do this? We are in the middle of dinner”
“Yes, you do not understand, I am trying to be helpful.”
It takes an unbelievable ten minutes to convince Eversheds’ very own extremely insistent and marvellously organised “Lady in Cannes” that perhaps a glorious client dinner is not the best venue to go through administrative lists and bookings.
Luckily, all of our clients appeared to find this impromptu admin meeting hilarious (but,believe me,it was a close one).
And so to Bar Roma (of course). It’s actually called Cafe Roma, but all the Brits insist on calling it “Bar” (after all, that’s what it is).
Small bottles of beer are €5 each. Stunned by this, my partner, Will Densham, decides to go for broke and buys a very large bottle of pink champagne.
None of this is any comfort to me. Seemingly every wall of Roma is a giant screen showing my team Arsenal (sorry) being creamed by the Catalan geniuses of Barcelona.
I shout randomly at the biggest screen for a while, but it doesn’t seem to help. Arsenal continue to run around like confused guinea pigs, whilst Barcelona make beautiful patterns around them with the ball.
I remember that it’s the first night (it is important not go off too early at MIPIM).
As an old hand I am, of course, very sensible, and am safely in bed well before 3am.
March 9th, 06:00
Nicky Richmond: Joint managing partner and head of property finance at Brecher.
Woken up at 5 despite going to sleep at stupid o’clock. Debating whether to have breakfast before “breakfast” where I have agreed to meet a real estate (or in the traditional yet modern world of Brecher), property lawyer at 9 30 for breakfast.
Decide that I cannot really justify 34Euro plus service charge plus room charge plus some utterly spurious MIPIM surcharge that descends on the whole of Cannes during MIPIM week and call room service to request a large pot of strong coffee, no doubt using the wrong word for “pot” to room service, who sound bemused.
This meeting with the lawyer is legal blind date and I have been forced to look at the website to see if I can find out what the lawyer looks like. I then discover that the lawyer is female not male (why did I assume otherwise?) and unfortunately has a name which is partly Thai (I believe) and partly Czech, neither of which I know how to pronounce. Good start.
We are having one of those MIPIM meetings to discuss “mutual referral opportunities” and I am just hoping that the other lawyer will be gentle with us as we ease ourselves into the day. Us, that is includes my partner, Andrew Brecher, who is delighted that I have filled his diary at this time and has arranged for an old Prague contact of his to join us. Just in case.
Then we’re off to have a meeting on a current transaction between clients and an investor I introduced them to, who happens to live down the road in Monaco. Then lunch with Investec –everyone seems to be going to that, it’s the new King Sturge; then meeting a banker who is making panel promises and then onto three simultaneous drinking focused evening events. Am trying to blag myself into the Savills dinner at Colombe D’Or but it’s not gatecrashable, so to speak. Not even for me.
Meanwhile my overpriced and lukewarm “cruche” or “flacon” has just arrived and I need to visit www.pronouncenames.com. Really.