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Making the most of MIPIM

cannes harbour
By Henry Columbine
29 February 2024

It’s that time of year again. As winter finally approaches its end, the property industry gets ready to decamp en masse to Cannes for a week of events, seminars and hardcore networking.

Much has been discussed in recent years – particularly following a hiatus during the pandemic – about the relevance of MIPIM, whether its seedy past, culture of excess and lack of diversity are out of touch with the industry today, and whether the significant financial and environmental cost of an annual trip to the south of France can really be justified.

These questions will – quite rightly – crop up again this year, but they are not the focus of this blog. The fact is, whatever your view of MIPIM, it remains one of the largest fixtures in the European real estate industry’s calendar. Despite the detractors, over 20,000 people are expected to descend on Cannes once again this year and, if they’re as vacuous and selfish as reports will have you believe, they’ll be more anxious about where to eat, drink and network with their contacts than the more fundamental questions about whether the event should be going ahead at all.

Cannes during MIPIM is such a unique place that the usual rules don’t apply and it can be unsettling arranging to meet in bars, restaurants and cafes based on a combination of online research and hazy memories from a year ago, and where it might not be possible to book a table.

So, compiled swiftly after last year’s MIPIM while everything was fresh in our heads, here’s our guide to how it all worked in 2023 and the places that, in our view, worked best for meeting up. 

In the Palais

Inside the bunker can be a bit of a rabbit warren and there are as many panel and speaker events going on as there are navy suits, with topics ranging from transforming the Middle East, to private/public opportunities in Barcelona, and inclusive placemaking in London. Our advice is to make a clear plan of the events you want to attend, where they are and, crucially, how long it will take to get there from your previous event or meeting – the Palais is much larger on the inside than it looks on the outside.

There are normally plugs and opportunities to charge your phone on Level-1 of the Palais; if in doubt, the members of staff dressed in stripy tops and neckerchiefs are both extremely helpful and friendly.

With the Palais being somewhat hectic and the breakout spaces uninspiring, the best places to meet are in the pavilions just outside – for example, those registered with the London Stand can enjoy a great outlook over the beach, lots of tables, an interesting line-up of panels and events, and a reliable team making coffee.

Close to the Palais

New York New York, Caffe Roma and La Californie are three popular haunts facing the Palais that are sensible places for a coffee meeting. All have significant outdoor areas, making them a great option if the sun’s shining, though bear in mind that most of Caffe Roma’s outdoor area is in the shade in the early morning so can be chilly. All three normally operate the same policy: tables can’t be booked in advance but if none is available you can queue up until one becomes free; you’ll be seated once you’re at the front of the queue provided your whole party is present. There’s almost always a queue, but there’s normally a steady flow of comings and goings, particularly on the hour.

New York New York, despite its name, is probably the smartest and most contemporary of the three options; La Californie makes a bit more of its food menu, so is a good option for breakfast; and Caffe Roma is the closest and most obvious when coming from the Palais. It becomes more of a drinking venue in the late afternoon and evening and is particularly lively on Thursday night.

Along the Croisette

Restaurants line the sea front and are great options for lunch. Mademoiselle Gray Plage is our favourite; CBeach, Long Beach and Vega Luna are a few other examples, but all have a similar vibe. Booking policies vary: some offer online booking systems, though tables get booked up quickly and often you’ll find the days of MIPIM greyed out as these venues also host large corporate takeovers. If you can’t book online and are desperate to have something booked before you go, your best bet is to channel a GCSE French listening exam and get on the phone. Alternatively, if you’re just meeting one or two people, you could go along in person to book something on your first day in town; there will always be cancellations and no-shows so try not to stress too much even if everything seems to be booked up.  

Further afield

It can sometimes be refreshing to get a little further away from the Palais, where you’ll find cafes and restaurants that feel calmer, where the vibe is a little less corporate, and where booking or getting a table can be more straightforward.

Staying on the sea front and heading west past the Town Hall leaves the main hubbub of the conference behind. Don’t expect anything too tranquil, but for the cost of another blister you’ll find a strip of cafés lining Bd Jean Hibert, where things are slightly less frenetic. Among them Chez Louise and L’Etabli are probably the smartest. The boulevard runs between you and the sea but you’ll still have a view over the water and a soundtrack of crashing waves.

Alternatively, heading north into the Old Town trades a sea view for a quainter outlook. Rosana and Le 24 Suquetare some of our favourites, but options are plentiful, though booking is recommended.

If you’re heading out to Cannes and would like to meet up (in one of the venues above or elsewhere), drop us a line at