Nearly 200 years after the English aristocracy first bought up the seafront in Nice, the city remains a glamorous and cosmopolitan destination.
It’s big and busy, endlessly fashionable, easily accessible from London for a weekend thanks to an international airport five miles from town, and is the gateway to the French Riviera.
'This is a year-round city with beaches, excellent shops and restaurants and winter skiing an hour away'
For homebuyers wanting a Côte d’Azur foothold, it is an opportunity for a lock-up-and-leave home in an area with oodles of chic and charm. Homes can cost many millions but apartments are surprisingly affordable and there are plans to upgrade the city.
Nice lies on one of Europe’s most desirable and pricey bays, the gently curving Baie des Anges (Bay of Angels). Antibes shimmers in the distance to the west while Cap Ferrat, where three properties sold for more than £90 million last year, is on the headland to the east.
“Nice, Cannes and Monaco are three main search areas for property hunters and of the three Nice is the cheapest,” says Nareg Bagdasar of Agence 107 Promenade. “It’s a year-round city with beaches, excellent shops and restaurants and winter skiing an hour away.
Nice’s Mayor, Christian Estrosi, has ambitious plans that include lowering traffic congestion and creating a modern infrastructure.
And he wants to extend the efficient and affordable modern tram system - all journeys cost €1 - and change the four-mile pebble beach to sand. Nice is a city to watch.
Promenade des Anglais: it’s all in the name
Named by the wealthy English residents who paid for its construction in the 1830s, the Promenade des Anglais is Nice’s three-mile seafront boulevard shaded by palm-trees and mimosas. It’s also a busy six-lane road lined with modern apartment blocks, elaborate bourgeois buildings and the faded red and yellow façades of Niçois design.
Despite the traffic noise, apartment prices here are some of the highest in Nice thanks to the seafront location. The flower market at Cours Saleya, the narrow streets of the Old Town and the yacht-filled Port are nearby with the restaurants and shops on the Rue Massena an easy walk away.
Prices peak around the famous Belle Époque Negresco Hotel where Agence 107 Promenade recently sold a three-bedroom 1,184 sq ft flat for £1.19 million after only three days on the market.
A 645sq ft third-floor apartment close to Nice Port with no balcony but a good view along the Promenade is for sale at £490,600 through Agence 107 and a studio in a good building with communal pool beside the Negresco and in need of upgrading is priced at £284,300.
Latitudes has a one-bedroom west-facing apartment in the Old Town for £223,700 and a two-bedroom apartment close by for £385,000.
“Few buyers here are keen to do renovation projects so there are good opportunities for buyers to add value,” advises Bagdasar. “Allow £90 a sq ft for renovation costs.”
Year-round rentals are strong on the Promenade says Chuck McKee of Winkworth France. “Lock-up-and-leave apartments are popular with buyers who either want a weekend base or to let it out with no security concerns,” says McKee. “Nice is attracting a younger crowd now.”
Fabron for something cheaper
The verdant hillside of Fabron west of Nice centre provides distant sea views with more affordable prices and a wide choice of modern apartments and villa estates based around communal pools. A good one-bedroom apartment will cost £321,000.
Agent 107 Promenade has a 1,076sq ft two-bedroom apartment in a gated complex with terrace and views to sea for £504,400.
Cimiez in the fashionable north of the city
Russian Tsars made this area north of the City fashionable more than 100 years ago and today it remains an upmarket residential district.
Expect to pay from £449,300 for a two-bedroom apartment in a 1920s Bourgeois building with high ceilings, grand entrances and old elevators. Winkworth has a 1,614sq ft two-bedroom apartment on the top floor of a Belle Époque Palace with views over Nice to the Med for £732,700. Latitudes is selling a two-bedroom apartment half the size for £426,400.
Agence 107 Promenade: 00 33 493 448383, www.107promenade.com.
Winkworth: 00 33 493 348426, www.winkworth.fr.
Latitudes: 020 8951 5155, www.latitudes.co.uk.