Sitting on the terrace at the Villa Francia, waiting for the airport transfer, I wonder - what to make of the 2010 vintage? Well, for one thing it has been the coldest Mipim I have been to for a long time.
Anyone sitting on the Riviera seafront in the sunshine for long enough this week, even in the middle of the day, ended up shivering from the vicious wind, a mini-mistral, whipping in from the Cannes bay.
Some of the nights were incredibly cold, requiring a more than usual cloak of alcohol to endure the late-night taxi waits. And, frankly, reading weather reports and realising that’d you have experienced a higher temperature if you’d have been in Manchester all week is really not what Mipim is supposed to be about.
Nevertheless, the sun has shone, the mountains and palm trees and bobbing yachts have been just as picturesquely placed as ever, wine has been drunk, and the annual lifting of the collective industry spirit has, on balance, been achieved.
Indeed, we should really be thankful. Like the UK, Cannes has had a long and torrid winter, and just a few short weeks ago Mipim delegates would have seen snow on the ground. It could have been a lot worse.
I must say it’s tempting (if, yes, ok, lazy) to draw an analogy between the weather and the economic climate for the property industry.
Like Cannes, the property industry has just been through the severest of winters for many year. And, like Cannes, it is just starting to emerge into a chilly but perceptible new season. Uncertain and tentative, but no less obvious for all that (admittedly for the construction industry it is probably still January, or maybe even December). So the cold sunshine has been somehow appropriate.
Numbers, the organisers tell us, are similar to last year, still way down on the mega booze-fests of old. And, as everyone here will tell you, that’s certainly not a bad thing. The reduced size and increased seriousness (relatively), make it just about possible to get stuff done.
And while numbers are the same the mood has, undoubtedly, been more positive. Last year was characterised by grim-faced determination to plough on - exemplified by the architect I met last night who’s 2009 Mipim trip came in the middle of a redundancy process for a third of the firm’s workforce.
The balance of spending money on keeping people employed or coming out to Cannes to try and get more work certainly focused the mind, and killed the mood. Pay for a stand, or keep one more junior worker in work, what’s it going to be? Not fun.
But this year, all the talk was of new work, new possibilities, and, particularly, the dusting-down and re-working of boom-time schemes. The London stand was probably the hub for much of this, with viabilities getting tighter and tougher the further you strayed from Berkeley Square.
And unlike last year the rays of light weren’t entirely resting on the crutch of public spending. Indeed the public sector was noticeably quieter, stung by the MPs’ expenses scandal and election into a pathological fright of being caught on camera in the vicinity of a flute of fizzy white wine.
In contrast the optimism was centred on the revival of the City and west end commercial markets, high value residential schemes, hotels and some other retail. Very little of it - the Olympics excluded - publicly subsidised. In some quarters - whisper it - there was even talk of buildings actually being built, and contractors being sought. But by and large the problem of funding remained.
Consultants and architects are picking up fees, and there is much talk of schemes making commercial sense once again, but the money men will still have to step up before builders will start feeling the benefit.
Hence no-one overdid the positivity, and no-one seemed inclined to believe good times are round the corner. Parties were, on the whole, smaller and less conspicuous, replaced more and more often by intimate dinners and select gatherings.
That’s not to say that lakes of wine and beer weren’t drunk, and whole oceans of pan-fried sea bass and scallops weren’t slaughtered in the service of entertaining, in a town where entertaining is a dedicatedly expensive business.
Lets be honest: most sane people outside the property world would still regard Mipim as a pretty debased display of almost neo-roman excess from people who, like investment bankers, willfully refuse to realise how it feels to be not invited to the party.
Nonetheless, by Mipim standards, the hospitality has been a notch down. And all the justifications for it, that it generates vital economic activity, that it aids the creation of fantastic new places and facilities, and even that it facilitates the regeneration of the most deprived areas, still stand.
So there you have it. A Mipim that was a little less extravagant, a little bit colder, a little more positive and probably a little bit littler than previous years. Job done, see you next year. Time to get my plane….