The French Nuclear Energy Society International Congress on Advances in Nuclear Power Plants in Juan-les-Pins was a good place to be this week and not just because of the sunny weather and excellent beachside restaurants, though these two factors helped.
The Congress attracted a strong international group of delegates as well as many enthusiastic PhD students, some of whom took part in a competition to find who could present their research to the audience in the most compelling way.
Over three days there was plenty of serious discussion on a range of technical issues. In addition the opening session, in which I took part, considered the international outlook for the industry as a whole.
This provided a refreshing dose of realism about both the challenges which we face and the opportunities which we may be able to seize.
Proceedings began with an encouraging introduction by Philippe Knoche, CEO of Orano. This was followed by a panel whose members came from the US, China and Japan as well as several European countries.
Shoujun Wang, President of the China Nuclear Society and Chairman of CNNC, gave an upbeat account of developments in China. From the other side of the world Ali Zbib reported on the US scene, where the industry is still alive and kicking, albeit without much help from politicians.
It was reassuring to hear Hans Rhein from DG Energy in the European Commission confirm that the EU still regards nuclear as an important part of the response to climate change. Long may that continue to be the case.
Keisuke Sadamori previewed the International Energy Agency's forthcoming report "Nuclear Power in a Clean Energy System", which will be published at the Tenth Clean Energy Ministerial in Vancouver at the end of May.
Having been a peer reviewer of this document I can testify to its high quality and it will certainly make a helpful contribution to the debate about nuclear's role. My own contribution to ICAPP can be accessed elsewhere on the NNWI website.
After these presentations a lively discussion took place under the skilful chairmanship of Yves Desbazeille, Director General of FORATOM.
The clear message from this session was that the recent upsurge in concern about climate change and the growing global consensus that decarbonisation of the power sector must accelerate offers the nuclear industry a huge opportunity.
At the same time optimism about future prospects is tempered by the continuing need to make the positive case for nuclear in the face of competition from other low carbon technologies.