Clear blue skies, sun, light breezes, lapping waves – sometimes it’s difficult to remember that there is a real world out there with storm clouds gathering.

MIPIM blog 3: Champagne and freebiesWednesday 11 March 5pm

Clear blue skies, sun, light breezes, lapping waves – sometimes it’s difficult to remember that there is a real world out there with storm clouds gathering.

If this can’t put people in the mood to do deals, nothing can, but the unfortunate reality is that it will take more than the Cannes sunshine to make the banks lend and investors put their hands in their pockets.

The real drought here is a champagne drought. MIPIM means wall to wall champagne to hand whenever you want it, morning, noon and night. Or so it used to be. This year, a few glasses we spotted almost apologetically at the King Sturge stand, as if to make up for the cancellation of their trade mark party.

Freshfields offered me a glass of water on their boat (only still, not sparkling – to avoid the risk of being mistaken for champagne?), pointing out that their party had been cancelled this year. Lovells are still having a party, but much scaled down from previous years. No more either the enjoyable Balti on the Beach party from Birmingham City Council.

Parties are cancelled or scaled back everywhere – it still seems inconceivable that JLL will not be throwing their renowned bash on the beach on Thursday night, tickets for which even Michael Jackson would have had to queue. But thankfully Overbury are still maintaining that fine French tradition of plying all-comers with unlimited quantities of Guinness at Morrison’s Irish Pub, the quality of which I tested on Monday night (purely in the interests of making sure standards have not been allowed to slip since my last visit there, during MAPIC in November, you understand).

The Palais has the feeling of only running at half pace. No vacant stands, but lots of deserted ones – no-one manning, and no-one visiting or showing any real interest. Some of the iconic exhibits are not there this year – the wonderful Dubai model with its futuristic spiralling glass towers is missing: Dubai cancelled – foundations of sand? And models of another kind are also in much less evidence: the Krasnodar region stand is still there, but much less crowded than last year –the Kazan section is not there and male visitors in particular are not seeming to find the same reasons to linger.

The most disappointing moment so far? A strong contender is the apparently delicious ice cream which the Torino and Piedmonte stand was serving, which turned out to be goat’s cheese. Torino and Piedmonte are also in the running for the most bizarre freebie of the exhibition: a block of compacted rice the size, texture and weight of a brick ADD IN PIC . Quite why I carried this back to my room rather than finding the nearest bin remains a mystery to me.

Other serious competitors for this award include Vilnius’ offerings of wooden spectacles and clothes pegs, while both the City of Stockholm and Prologis seem to think that bottles of water will wow people into investing in their products –sorry, but that does not float my boat, although the vast uncollected quantities at their stands may eventually do just that.