The Italian Riviera is an hour by road, or by train passing through Menton and Monaco — meaning you can start the day with a croissant in Nice, lunch on spaghetti alle vongole in Italy and chance your hand at the Monte Carlo casino on the way home.
Sitting on the gently curving Baie des Anges — the Bay of Angels — Nice is book-ended by glamorous Antibes and Cap Ferrat, with a six-mile beachfront lined with mansions and grand hotels. To the east is the port, and the narrow streets and faded pink-and-yellow flat-fronted façades of the Old Town.
£1,984,000: an all-white, designer three-bedroom apartment in a classic villa beside the sea at Mont Boron. Through Savills (020 7016 3740)
A city for all seasons
“Nice is a lively, year-round city with beautiful buildings, interesting culture and museums, a long coastline and good restaurants,” says Alex Balkin of Savills. “It was part of Italy for a long time and that’s reflected in the architecture and terracotta colours.”
The idea of a holiday apartment in Nice appeals to buyers from many countries, but most generally want the same things — sea views, some outside space and a quiet location. Mont Boron, a residential hillside immediately south-east of the city, is a popular choice. Close to Elton John’s house, on Route Forestière, Savills is selling an all-white 1,940sq ft apartment in a classic Belle Époque villa beside the sea for £1,984,000.
The three-bedroom apartment has great style. Its clean, cool, designer look is seductive, and the fittings are of the highest quality — a surprising rarity in Nice, says Balkin.
Open-plan interiors feature pale wood floors, full-height antique doors, modern bathrooms, circular ceramic radiators, and a sitting room that has spectacular views from windows on three sides looking out over Nice and over to St Tropez and Corsica. Underground parking and a caretaker are included in the £240 monthly service charge.
£992,000: a four-bedroom flat in The Regina in Cimiez, a former hotel where Queen Victoria stayed. Through Savills (www.savills.com; 020 7016 3740)
Fit for a queen - Victoria
Cimiez, north of the centre, is another fashionable area with palaces built by the Russian elite 100 years ago. The imposing Hotel Excelsior there was home to Queen Victoria for a period of several months. In 1937 it was renamed The Regina and was divided into 100 apartments.
The Regina is now a national monument with a grand entrance, sweeping marble staircases, and tennis courts and a pool in the flower-filled, two-acre communal grounds.
A four-bedroom apartment is for sale on the fourth floor of the building through Savills for £992,000, with high ceilings and wrought-iron balconies overlooking the park. Monthly service charges are £350 and the apartment would rent for £2,400 a month.
Good two-bedroom apartments on the Promenade des Anglais start from £555,000 but beware of road noise. Ten minutes from the centre in a low-level complex with gardens and a pool, Savills is selling a two-bedroom 700sq ft apartment with terrace and distant sea views for £278,000.
The view from La Chèvre d’Or two Michelin-starred restaurant
Check into La Chèvre d’Or — the Golden Goat — to begin your house hunting
Thirty minutes from Nice airport on the road to Italy, this Relais & Chateaux hotel has peacefully colonised the ever-so-pretty village of Èze.
Originally opened as a restaurant in 1953, it was regular visitor Walt Disney who persuaded the owner to launch it as a hotel. Today there are 24 luxurious rooms and 13 suites spread around the cobbled paths, and mixed in among private village homes.
Walls of jasmine and bougainvillea and wide bowls of hydrangeas and roses set the tone, but it’s the views from the 10-acre gardens and the four restaurants — including the two Michelin-starred Gourmet Restaurant — that mesmerise. Far below, the Mediterranean shimmers and the eagle-eyed can pick out the homes of U2 musicians Bono and The Edge in Èze-sur-Mer.
“Guests come to visit Monaco or Antibes, to see the gardens around Nice or visit the Chagall and Matisse museums,” says the hospitable and charming general manager Thierry Naidu, a family man with international experience in the hotel sector. “It is a fabulous hideaway for you to enjoy good food and recharge the batteries on a beautiful stretch of the Med.”
Prices at La Chèvre d’Or start from £240 per room per night including tax. For reservations call Relais & Châteaux on 0800 2000 0002, or visit www.relaischateaux.com.