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Foreign real estate investors on the French Riviera

For over a century, the French coasts have attracted foreigners, mainly from the North of Europe. Aquitaine, Brittany and Normandy have always had large Anglosaxon, Flemish and Scandinavian communities along their shores. However, the most attractive French coastline to foreigners remains the French Riviera.

Real estate investors on the French Riviera: where do they come from?

Traditionally, the largest foreign contingent represented on the French Riviera has been the Anglosaxons. There is a reason why the region is better known internationally under its English name: the French Riviera. At the beginning of the 20th century, the American writer Francis Scott Fitzgerald and his wife Zelda were some of the first foreigners to settle there. They emigrated from the United States along with many of their friends in search of its notorious calm and luxury. 

Today, this remains the trend, as numerous English and Americans continue to move to and invest in this region. The Tzar nobility fled to Nice at the end of the 19th century, resulting in the establishment of a large Russian community. Further inland are many Belgian and Dutch properties as they seek space and greenery. Its proximity with the Italian border explains the large number of Italians, mostly found near Menton. Finally, in Monaco there are also large Middle Eastern and Indian populations.

- Les investisseurs immobiliers étrangers sur la Côte d'Azur

What type of property do they invest in?

In general, foreigners who invest in property on the French Riviera are looking for a holiday home in the sun. This is partly the reason why so many of the people here come from countries with harsher and more grey climates. Many of these properties are also bought as second homes and are often used as seasonal rentals. The configuration of these properties varies. 

Along the coast and in the city centres, it is mainly apartments and studios that are sought after by foreigners. The possibility of easy beach access and more importantly, a sea view, are the key criteria of these property searches. Further inland, away from the coast, there are more villas and country homes to be found. Whilst the English and Scandinavians prefer to invest as close as possible to the sea, the Belgians and Dutch prefer to be further out, surrounded by peace and quiet in nature.

The attraction of the property market on the French Riviera

At the centre of Western Europe, France benefits from a strategic position on the Continent. Its social and medical infrastructure, as well as its transport network, culture and arts, its gastronomy and the diversity of its natural landscapes and architecture make it one of the most loved countries in the world. Among its regions, the French Riviera holds a special place. 

At the top of a ranking, organised by BNP Paribas in 2018, the Provence-Alpes-Côte-d'Azur region attracts over 20% of real estate transactions by foreigners in France. The first reason for this significant lead is obviously the climate. The exceptional sunshine found on the meditarranean coast in France is a major advantage. But the region’s economy, mainly found in Nice, also attracts investors and professionals as well as tourists. 

From a real estate point of view, the international and timeless prestige of certain areas makes for costly investments, which are, however, reliable in the long run. Juan-les-Pins, la Croisette or the Promenade des Anglais are some examples of areas which never lose their value.

What are the charges for real estate on the French Riviera ?

Prices vary along the French Riviera. In Nice, the average square metre is worth just over €4000. However, the price can rise to €10,000 in the Vieux Nice area. In Cannes, the average price for an apartment is €5000 per metre square, which can increase to €7000 in la Croisette. A property with a sea view can be worth double these prices. For cities which are mostly seasonal, such as Villefranche-sur-Mer, the prices are much higher than in areas which are less dependant on tourism, such as Menton, where there is constant activity all year round. In general, real estate prices on the French Riviera have continued to rise since the financial crisis of 2008.

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