This week, 25,000-odd property developers, agents and investors have descended on Cannes for a week of networking, deal-making and partying at Mipim, property's annual get-together.
The event is notorious for its boozy parties, as delegates toast their success in the bars lining the seafront, aboard yachts in the town's marinas, or in villas in the nearby Esterel mountains.
While delegates work hard at the event – the daily programmes begin early – they also party hard, with many events carrying on into the wee hours.
But it's not just the professionals who make Cannes their home for the week. Mingling with the property types on the Boulevard de la Croisette will be hundreds of representatives of local government, all attempting to entice developers to consider their city for their next big investment.
Even without a stand in the exhibition hall of the Palais, a visit to Mipim doesn't come cheap, with a pass for the event costing €1,750 (£1,250). Then there's the cost of a hotel room in the notoriously expensive town – and additional expenditures on food, travel and (of course) drinks.
Who are the councillors attending the event in Cannes? The City of London has by far the most representatives attending, with 11, although Coventry is a close second, with seven. In fact, between them the London boroughs have 34 people attending – although that's not counting those from the Greater London Authority, who include the organisation's chief of staff and deputy mayor for planning and policy, Sir Edward Lister and Richard Blakeway, deputy mayor for housing. A spokesperson for the City of London pointed out that "as London's commercial centre, Mipim is more relevant to us than to boroughs with greater residential needs".
The City of London encourages discussion with developers as a way to ensure The City's residents and workers receive the best possible office developments in an attractive public environment. Mipim is an also efficient way to meet key parties in the commercial property industry and communicate these needs.
Meanwhile Cllr Ann Lucas, the leader of Coventry City Council, pointed out that the increased presence from her city was on the back of government figures showing "how strongly the area is attracting inward investment". Coventry City Council representatives' time at Mipim is paid for by a partnership between private sector developers and other related businesses, which means that in recent years taxpayers have not paid for them to be there.
UKTI figures revealed last year that we were the most successful area outside London in attracting inward investment from abroad, based on the size of population, so we have a very strong message to push to an audience that is at the MIPIM show. We have a very strong partnership, and several of the members choose to be connected to Coventry and Warwickshire’s presence at MIPIM because we are recognised for the effective way in which we market the area. That partnership itself gives out a strong message about the way the private and public sectors work together.
But council employees aren't the only government representatives attending the event. Altogether, 214 representatives of UK-based publicly-funded bodies – from the European Union-funded Make It Stoke-on-Trent & Staffordshire (who have seven delegates) to English Heritage (three delegates) to the ever-present HS2 (also three).
Conspicuous by his absence will be Boris Johnson, who has been a vocal advocate for London's development opportunities in recent years, but for the first year since he was elected mayor will not attend.
Last week a City Hall spokesman told City A.M. Johnson's absence was "literally down to his massive diary pressures". This year, he has something other than London's housing crisis on his mind.