France keeps investors coming back for more


Traditional but never dull, France’s flagship region of Provence keeps investors coming back for more, says Terence Alldritt of luxury agent Groupe Mercure

While the last decade has seen a proliferation of second-home destinations opening up across the globe, traditional getaways closer to home have been quietly upping their game and nowhere more so than Provence, where first class infrastructure, healthy rental yields and solid capital growth continue to offer a bedrock of sustainability.

Midi climes lured a healthy 18m+ to the French Riviera last year, with Provence remaining a key location for buyers, especially sun-seekers from Northern Europe including a healthy smattering of UK second-homers.

Provence epitomises rustic chic. Cities such as Nice, Avignon and Aix became culturally autonomous early on, and consequently have the social cohesion and established traditions that make provincial living so good. The region also scores well on communications - weekend breaks now common currency thanks to the proximity of motorway networks and major airports - location influencers, which also dictate rental patterns. A five month letting season is not uncommon. The Cote d’Azur can often stretch to six or more, attracting overseas and Parisian clientele for whom the Midi way of life is pure Elysium.

After several lackluster years, property values are regaining ground, especially well-renovated villas and traditional detached homes. A strong pound versus the euro also means UK buyers are in a favourable position, with a new high-speed train link between the UK and the region planned for this summer, boosting interest in destinations such as Avignon. Buyers looking to escape the Riviera glare will no doubt favour the gites, farmhouses and old villas of the arriere-pays. The aromatic garrigue-covered hills provide welcome respite from the coastal buzz and typically cost a third less, with detached period properties starting from £390,000.


Hot Spots


Just 20kms from Cannes, Agay has kept its old-fashioned ambience and remains a favourite with visitors from Europe. Part of the Saint Raphael commune, the resort’s primary appeal is its frontline position on a scenic section of Mediterranean coast; the imposing red cliffs and rocks of the Massif de l'Esterel rising behind the town, and down to the harbour, blended with a stunning mile-long beach that stretches as far as the eye can see. Residents benefit from the area’s tranquility while still being able to access the more ebullient lifestyle of Saint Raphael, Frejus or any of the other Riviera resorts. On the market with the agency is a stunning detached property overlooking Agay Bay with views to St Tropez. This magnificent 8-bedroom residence offers enough living space for a large family, friends and guests and comes with a separate guest house, infinity pool and extensive outdoor terracing. Price: On application.


The one time home of Picasso who took up residence in a hilltop Mas beside the village church, Medieval Mougins is one of the region’s most picturesque hinterland villages, renowned for its gourmet restaurants and art galleries and steeped in yesteryear character. Groupe Mercure is marketing a luxurious new build home with pool set in beautifully landscaped gardens. Just a 15 minute drive from Nice airport, this six-bedroom property with a sale price of 12,720,000 EUROS boasts a triple reception area, discothèque and gym.

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