As the big-screen stars prepare for the opening of the annual Cannes Film Festival next week, many will take a stroll along the Promenade de la Croisette, one of the priciest streets on the Côte d’Azur, where three-bedroom seafront flats reach £6 million.
But if you hanker for a longer — and cheaper — stay in the South of France start your property hunt in Nice, less than 30 minutes away from overpriced Cannes. Nice prices are much more alluring for those on a non-Hollywood budget, and the resort comes dipped in elegance and glamour, with the whiff of scandal. European royalty led the charge to the city in the late 19th century.
Louche writers, artists and celebrities followed and 100 years on, it remains in vogue.
A PROUDLY DEFIANT CITY
Last summer’s deadly Bastille Day terror attack clearly affected tourism in Nice but like London, the city is defiant.
Heavily armed police stroll alongside joggers and cyclists on the Promenade des Anglais, the scene of the attack, where substantial works are under way, including the installation of concrete bollards.
Nice is a bustling, sensory treat, from its early morning flower market to the late-night bars in the narrow streets of the Old Town. The city fronts the beautiful Bay of Angels, the palm-fringed and pebble-stoned waterfront that curves seductively towards the magnificent mansions on Cap d’Antibes.
Those stucco-fronted homes come with sky-high price tags but you don’t have to be a millionaire to enjoy this city.
Start the day with a café au lait, shop for plump vegetables from Cours Saleya market and take a long seafront walk: these activities represent the best of Niçois life and won’t break the bank.
Nice property prices today are on average back to 2006 levels, with new build prices about 15 per cent below the top prices of 2008, says Alex Balkin, director of Savills Riviera. With lending rates in France exceptionally low — 1.6 per cent fixed for 10 years is possible — the value remains interesting.
“Nice’s excellent infrastructure of airports, roads, hospitals and public transport and the proximity of ski resorts 90 minutes away make it a comfortable place for a second home,” points out Balkin.
NEW BUILD IN THE HILLS
Ten minutes from the centre of Nice in the hills above Cimiez, Domaine de Gairaut is a new development of 25 homes in 10 acres of green and wooded land. The apartments will be divided between five buildings and share a large pool, tennis court, golf practice hole, gym and full-time concierge.
The two- to four-bedroom homes of 990sq ft to 2,314sq ft will also share one of the best views in Nice, overlooking the city and the sea, even as far as the St Tropez peninsula on a clear day.
“There are very few apartments on the hillside, only larger villas and this development is low density and low level,” says Simon West of developers Cogedim. “Residents have three good restaurants within an easy walk and are also next to the city with good transport links to Cannes and Monaco, yet in quiet, green surroundings.”
Prices at Domaine de Gairaut start from £671,000 through Savills with underground parking from £25,500 and service charges from £4,200. Fourteen homes have been sold so far, mainly to French buyers but also Swiss and Brits, who expect to move in by spring 2019.
Resale rental prospects Cimiez is a smart residential area of Nice where flats in grand Belle Époque villas in tree-lined streets provide fresh air and well-tended gardens. Historically this was home from home for European royalty — the Belgian king, Russian tsar and Queen Victoria all visited.
A 1,829sq ft first-floor flat in an immaculate classical building with full height windows, parquet flooring and charming internal glass doors is for sale for £662,700. The three-bedroom property would rent for about £1,500 a week short-term or £2,000 a month on a longer let, says Balkin. Buyers determined to live in star-studded Cannes itself can find an affordable home with Beauchamp Estates, which has a 947sqft two-bedroom flat on a gated resort for £443,000 with communal pool and tennis court. The more usual price for Cannes is likely to be a modern six-bedroom villa in the hills above the centre for £3.28million — with cinematic coastal views, natch.
Savills: savills.com (020 7016 3740)
Domaine de Gairaut: domaine-de-gairaut.com
Beauchamp Estates: beauchamp.com