MIPIM 2011: Day 1

Hordes of real estate lawyers are in Cannes this week for MIPIM, but what are they really getting up to? Find out in our MIPIM blog all week.

Bruce Dear, head of London real estate, Eversheds.

“MIPIM”. To the un-initiated it sounds like a kid’s TV character.

“Do people have to go to MIPIM? Is it important?”, said a corporate client of mine on Monday.

The answer is yes. Why? Because MIPIM is the UK’s biggest and most elaborate defensive drinking festival.

If you’re not in Cafe Roma with your clients at 2am then someone else is.

Mind you, I just don’t get Cafe Roma. Okay, so I go there every March; but in London it would be the star entry in any Bad Pub Guide.

In Cannes, just once a year, this unremarkable lager gazebo becomes a kind of boozing TARDIS.

The whole UK property industry crams itself inside, sharing market gossip between gulps of cold beer and generally having an incredible time of it (Roma blog to follow).

Of course, MIPIM starts with the journey down. How you get there matters.

Every year intrepid, fundraising MIPIMITES rally down in vintage cars and motor bikes and other (even madder) MIPIMITES cycle down. I haven’t heard of anyone swimming to Cannes yet, but they will.

For me this year, it’s the long and relaxing Eurostar journey to Nice. The train will stop 200 yards from my hotel and I will have all day to work, read and watch the French countryside unroll outside the window.

That’s the theory, but it doesn’t start well. Last night, I unwisely had an (honestly) moderate amount of champagne to celebrate the exchange of a multi-million pound purchase. We were all utterly delighted to get it through.

However, champagne and getting up at 5am to catch the 7.22am Eurostar are not happy bedfellows.

But I fight back and, by the time we pull into Paris, I am feeling cheered by a giant Pain au Chocolat and copious amounts of coffee.

Now to change trains. This is the moment my secretary and my wife will be expecting panicky calls. How do I get to the Gare de Lyon? Where does the Nice train go from? What city am I in? I have the directional sense of a very lost sheep.

Somehow, I hold it together. I find the right line and end up on the top floor (great view) of an SNCF double decker.

I feel I have achieved something. This is a bit silly really as I am nearly 47 and all I have done is catch the right train to Nice. Still we all need our little triumphs.

My deck is full of casually stylish French people, effortlessly polished and so confidently relaxed about (what else?) simply being French.

The lady opposite me is reading Paris Match and stroking a mini-Yorkshire terrier that she is carrying in her shopping bag. From time to time she feeds it pieces of baguette. Somehow she manages to look incredibly cool.

This proves style is nine-tenths geography. Feeding a dog in a shopping bag would not be cool in Cleethorpes.

MIPIM rushes towards us across the vast fields of France and with it more blogs and perhaps just a little more champagne…

Tuesday 8th March 2011, 09:00

Deborah Parry, Real Estate partner, Nabarro

…Diary of  an angry old woman at MIPIM…  

Day one: alcohol intake 12 units (I made that  up), ciggies 0 (never took it up), calories…..too numerous to mention….and  no Mr Darcy as yet.

And so to Cannes,  after an absence of seven years. Well, many of the faces are the same, if a  little longer and the hotels are in more or less the same places as I remember  them. But this is a far more serious affair than in years gone by. In addition  to a letter of introduction, passport, full anti money laundering checks (and  that’s just to pick up the pass to the bunker), every entry into the bunker,  smart hotel etc involves submitting to the visual recognition machine, that  even the UK Border people have yet to adopt.  So no sharing passes chaps.  Believe me: it will be easier to get back into Blighty than into the bar of  the Carlton…., so we went to the Martinez instead.

And, is it hard  work I hear you ask, for those of you covering the files we have left behind,  with a quick Post-it note to say: ’Nothing should happen on this file’ (note  to self, next time make sure something happens on said files or they will  think I have nothing better to do and AM dispensable.   You bet it  is!  Schlepping up and down that Croisette all day in ridiculous shoes,  smiling – ALL THE TIME – that’s hard but someone has to do it.

In the few  moments available between smiling, you can pick up the BlackBerry and send the  odd email to some unsuspecting victim, just so you’re not forgotten back home.   

Tomorrow, they tell me, it all gets more intensive, so let’s  see.

Click here to see MIPIM 2011: Day 2