Provence-Cote-d'Azur Property Blog: Insider's guide to property in the Provence Coté d'Azur region

What’s moving, what’s sticking …. & at what price?

Prices round-up for the End of the Year

Welcome to Provence Cote d’Azur – home of the rich & famous, the glitz & the glamour!  But against the background of financial turbulence, what is selling? Where are the successful towns? Does the instability provide opportunities for the shrewd investor?

As we approach the end of the year, it is time to look at where prices are going in Provence Cote D’Azur.  Overall prices are slightly up on the year despite the instability in the Eurozone, but this average hides a variety of prices and price trends when you look at an area by area or village by village assessment.

We’ll start our review in the east around Cannes. The most well-known areas and those that attract the greatest number of international buyers such as Cannes itself & Antibes/Juan Les Pins are again showing strong growth around prices of 5,650 € psm and 5,200€ psm – although it is the bottom end of the market that is moving the most.  Inland Valbonne is generally stable price-wise with achieved prices close to asking prices, showing that vendors are taking a realistic view.  Neighbouring Peymeinade & Opio show growth with Biot & Mougins stable and positive.   In Mougins, the negotiation potential has been more pronounced some 7% but with average prices around 5,000€ psm, the activity has again been at the lower end of the scale.  This highlights that in key locations those vendors that have needed to sell, have been prepared to negotiate to achieve sales whereas at the top end, there is less pressure and so properties have remained unsold.

Close to CannesBecky Rutherford suggests “if you want to buy in the Mougins area, consider Mouans Sartoux – it has quiet residential areas with nice villas with pools, close to Mougins but without the same price tag.  The same prices in Mougins or Valbonne are likely to be on the busy roadside”.

The Alpes-Maritime area sees the most varied range of international buyers: Becky’s most recent sale involved an English-based couple with a small baby.  The wife was Iranian and the attraction to Juan Les Pins was both the proximity to Nice International Airport with flights to the Middle East, but also her family owned a flat nearby.  These two factors enabled a focussed search to be undertaken leading to a quick purchase.

Moving to the Canton de Fayence and the Esterel to the north & south of the A8 motorway which separates the Var department in two, we see a more consistent slow reduction in prices.  There is nothing dramatic in these changes and prices throughout the area are pretty stable around 3,200-3,600€ psm showing neither real growth nor coming down – this suggests a balanced market with realistic vendors and active buyers.  An opportunity to buy in a stable price environment as well as a sought-after area says local agent Emma Bowman.

On to the Haut Var, prices are lower generally around 3,000-3,300 € psm, but the area is price positive with some very strong recent movements in the traditionally strong British & Dutch areas of Lorgues & Cotignac as well as the pretty village of Entrecasteaux with its chateau.

South of the A8, the roads all lead to St Tropez which as always remains a key property market with average prices of around 8,750€ still showing growth.  Just inland the villages show marked differences; La Garde Freinet, a British favourite, is perhaps showing their need to sell up despite more reasonable price levels around 3,700€.  Grimaud, including Port Grimaud, has a stable average price around 6,250€ psm, but Gassin is receding at prices around 4,325€ psm.

Further to the west, we reach the Central Var also known locally as the Provence Verte.  Traditionally this is one of the cheaper areas with prices around 2,500-2,850 € psm.  Here it is a game of two halves.  The villages to the west of the area including Neoules and Gareoult are stable with negative undertones.  The eastern area is arguably more French and is showing good growth particularly around Flassans & Besse sur Issole – perhaps rebalancing the historic position somewhat. Vallee de Sauvebonne

Further south is the Valley of the Sauvebonne including Pierrefeu which boasts several Gold Medal wines before the coastal region around Hyeres.  Prices show a 20% difference for the coast, but it is the lower end and mid-market that are shown in the recent evidence with average sales around 3,000- 3,600€ psm.  This is generally stable, but indicates that the premium properties on the Presqu’Ile de Giens and elsewhere are not coming to the market or are not selling.

To finish the round-up we jump across Toulon, to the western coastal area of the Var – the run from La Seyne sur Mer through Sanary sur Mer to Bandol.  Average prices show a more consistent market with sales across the price levels averaging 3,500-4,500€ psm with little advancement although according to Helen Shackleton St Mandrier sur Mer looks like a good buy at the moment at the bottom of this price range especially in the Pin Rolland quarter on the eastern side of the peninsula.

The key to this story is that when you look from afar, one often thinks of the Provence region as one homogeneous and premium market.  One can forget that this is a huge region including 5 departments, of which we have concentrated on only two in this article.  The variety of landscapes and building types are legion – the golden beaches are well-known, but often forgotten are the ski slopes within ½ an hour of a large proportion of the area.  The generality ignores that there are very distinct communities too with completely different styles of life from the Canton de Fayence, for example, to glamorous Cannes just 20 minutes away.  Prices vary to the same degree, so there really is something for everybody.

It is also a developing area attracting investment in infrastructure like a new transport hub for Nice, the airport & links into the Var, a new port at Cagnes sur Mer for the cruise ships, a new chair lift in Grasse and the overdue western tunnel underneath Toulon.  Despite its success and celebrity, this is not a region that is resting on its laurels.

Sources: Notaires de France, Efficity, Meilleuragents, Riviera Times

Prices quoted are the averages for houses as at October 2011