Country Life at MIPIM

While considerably larger than the Cannes Film Festival, few outside the property world will be aware that every March the great and the not-so-good of the property industry the world over descend on the French Riviera resort for a four-day long whirl of schmoozing, networking, business-making and drinking.

This year, you might have thought that with all the credit crunch tremors, the Champagne corks might not have been popping in quite the same quantity as previous years? Not a bit of it.

For a newcomer, the experience was intriguing. First, the organisers of MIPIM have a mafia-like hold over the hotels in the town meaning that only stand-holding delegates who have forked out a considerable amount (a no-frills pass for the exhibition hall tickets cost £1,200, to give you an idea of the prices), are able to book rooms. Everyone else has to make do with the Cannes environs. And even there the hoteliers, understandably, feel no qualms in pitching prices for very ordinary and, in some cases, dirty rooms at Manhattan heights.

Next, trying to fly to Nice (Cannes nearest airport) is next to impossible, unless you book now for next year. Even with the company paying, it feels a bit much to pay £600 (one-way) to Stelios, in the knowledge that you don’t even get a cup of tea thrown in with it. We opted to fly, with Ryanair (£1.75 for a cuppa), to ‘St Tropez’ (actually Toulon-Hyeres, which, as often with Mr O’Leary’s rather unusual grasp of European geography, is miles away from both and in the middle of no where.

Taxis are next to impossible to find throughout the four days. So, if you want to escape the town (and you will. I wouldn’t recommend anyone with a hint of claustrophobia spending time in the lobby of the Majestic; it resembles Victoria station on a Monday morning), you have to either brave the local train service (which is great, except when the drivers decide to go on strike) or book a limo. If you do the latter, don’t be surprised to be chauffeured by a Dutch man driving a German car; such is the level of demand that companies are forced to hire cars and drivers from neighbouring countries as local outfits simply run out.

Back to the festival. MIPIM is essentially about commercial and investment rather than residential (although overseas developers do launch new products there and if you’re still confused about former Russian states, most of them seem to be in attendance). So you might wonder why Country Life are also there? The answer is, aside from having a look around to see what’s coming up on international market, make new contacts like everyone else but also because we hosted a drinks party for our advertisers in France who congregate in Cannes for the week.

All of us agree that this year, the party went with a swing with a healthy turn out from our Savills associate friends, Property Vision in France, John Taylor, Krstina Szekely from Marbella and the team from Robert Adams Architects.

mipimKaren Oberti and Gayle Stevenson

mipimHarrods Estates and Tamsin Luck

You can see more of these pictures from our party in Country Life soon!