Real estate in Cannes hovers between €5,000 and €10,000 per square metre. But even billionaires can’t buy a piece of the Riviera’s most money-spinning property: the Palais des Festivals.
It’s what hosts the red carpet celebs during May’s Film Festival. It’s what welcomes industry grandees during the Midem and MipTV mega-shows. And it’s what essentially guarantees a local holiday rental occupancy of up to 40 weeks per year, with all the hospitality income that comes with it.
But Cannes’ most famous building had a shaky start. The original edifice was built to host glamorous events in 1949, and in the post-war world these were few and far between. Highlights included the Eurovision Song Contest. It was hosted twice (oh the glamour!) in 1959 and 1961.
Then city officials struck real estate gold. Cannes bigwigs worked out that business travellers outspent holiday travellers by a ratio of 3 to 1. (And as someone who once travelled with a company credit card I assure you that figure is correct.) Conferences featuring tens of thousands of delegates filled up the Palais all winter – plus the surrounding hotels and rental apartments too.
A calendar jam-packed with exhibitions from Tax Free World to the Luxury Travel Market keep punters flooding in. The industry daddy is MIPIM. Some 22,000 delegates pay a minimum of €1,590 per person to attend this global real estate show. Just think what they spend afterwards in the bar.
Alas, our story must go back in time. Because when big conference bucks came on tap it was the 1980s. Cannes’ glorious old Palais des Festivals was pulled down. The massive concrete block we know today was built in its place in 1982 – the year that gave us the Commodore 64 and the Ford Sierra. Despite facelifts in 1999 and 2009 (not the first in Cannes I grant you) the Palais remains monumentally ugly.
But heh, who’s counting? The Palais des Festivals has its own Twitter Feed, and even expanded during 2014 when it opened the new Auditorium Louis Lumière. If you don’t have an invite you can always Instagram your palm print in the cement alongside those of Brad and Angelina.