More about property opportunities in Villefranche below
The Région Sud of Provence-Alpes-Côte d'Azur is unquestionably the most glamorous of France’s administrative regions, with elite real estate and development opportunities to match its spectacular geography.
It takes just four hours - by Maserati Granturismo - to descend from the ski resorts (second-highest in France) in its most northerly Hautes-Alpes départément down to the to the photogenic coastline which stretches from the Camargue in the west to Nice and the Italian border in the east.
The stretch of this deeply scalloped Mediterranean coast, known as the “Côte d'Azur” to the French, or the “French Riviera” to the English, is the most famous in the world.
Former fishing villages now have front-row views of the world’s superyacht fleet (half of all the world’s superyachts will drop anchor off this shoreline in any one year). The star-studded resorts stretch from Saint-Tropez to Cannes, Juan-Les-Pins, Antibes, Nice and Villefranche-sur-Mer, Cap-Ferrat and Roquebrune-Cap-Martin, surrounding exclusive Monte Carlo tucked into its tax-free principality.
"People buy here because of the climate, the sea, the stunning scenery, magnificent food and accessibility," says Tim Swannie, Director of Marseille-based luxury property specialists Home Hunts. "There are superb beaches and the Alps are just behind, so it is a real year-round destination."
In the centre of the glitzy Côte d'Azur, this commune is described as one of the most charming – if not the most charming – locations on the Riviera.
The Bay of Villefranche, encircled by the Cap of Nice and the iconic Cap-Ferrat is ranked as one of the five most beautiful bays in the world. Although only 5km from Nice it retains much of the charm of an authentic Niçoise fishing town, with narrow cobbled streets, waterside restaurants, and colourfully painted pointus tied up in the old harbour of la Darse.
Villefranche-sur-Mer surrounds the iconic Cap-Ferrat, where only 500 properties command prices up to 250 million euros. Only a fraction of those will come onto the market each year, according to Alex Balkin, executive director of Savills’ French Riviera office. "The peninsula tends to attract affluent buyers seeking trophy properties and many have no intentions of selling."
Meanwhile in Villefranche, properties available range from modest 1.27 million euro two-bedroom apartments to front-row 8.5 million euro Belle-Epoque villas.
Prices on the Côte d’Azur are currently on a high plateau, according to Savills' market analysis.
Demand for the most desirable residential Côte d’Azur property comes from the international second-home market, and has more in common with other top-tier global locations than with the rest of France.
The market slowed significantly as a result of the global financial crisis in 2007, though there were few foreclosures.
In line with other prime markets, prices did improve in 2011 with buyers from merging markets (particularly the Middle East and Russia). The election of French President Francois Hollande in 2012 dented confidence, and demand fell again in 2014 as a result of falling commodity prices and a slowing French economy.
The election of Emmanuel Macron in 2017, and a new tax environment, is seen as a turning point, according to Paul Tostevin, associate director of Savills World Research.
"Thanks to an improved national economy, demand is returning to the Côte d’Azur. However stock levels are high, meaning it is a buyer’s market."
According to Savills’ 2018 Spotlight: Côte d’Azur:
The Côte d’Azur has strong tourism appeal: 200 private beaches, 15 spas, 21 golf courses, 36 marinas and 17 casinos (including five in Monaco).
More than 10 million visitors come to the Riviera each year, staying a total of 65 million tourist nights.
Nice Côte d'Azur Airport, 34 minutes from Villefranche-sur-Mer, connects to 120 summer destinations, including 96 outside France.
Despite the range a quality of hotel and rental accommodation, approximately half of all tourist nights in the Côte d’Azur are spent either in second homes, or in homes belonging to friends and family, driving strong demand for residential purchase.
During the 19th century the Riviera “high season” (as established by aristocratic British and European visitors) was during the winter and spring months. It was only after the First World War and with greater numbers of Americans arriving that the “High Society” scene became a summer season.
A major part of the Riviera’s appeal is its classically Mediterranean climate: warm, sunny summers cooled by sea breezes, and mild winters protected from cold northerly winds by the mountains close behind it. Nice enjoys 147 days of sunshine a year (those Instagram shots haven’t all been flitered).
Savills International Research
The Riviera’s property market has been boosted by falling prices inland, away from the prime coastal locations.
Locations such as Biot, Opio, Roquefort les Pins and Châteauneuf de Grasse offer buyers more for their money: more bedrooms, a larger swimming pool or more substantial grounds and greater privacy. Tim Swannie, of Home Hunts luxury property search specialists, says “The beauty of a holiday home inland, aside from the financial savings, is that you can dip in and out of the coast, but not get caught in the busy summer traffic.”
I approached Clifton Private Finance to help me get a mortgage as an Expat working in the Far East. I would normally 'cut out the middle man' on something like this and try to get myself a deal directly with the banks, but I am now sold on the broker concept and wouldn't hesitate to use Clifton Private Finance again. There were a number of complicating factors such as being an expat, the stamp duty holiday, the sheer amount I wanted to borrow and the fact I wanted it all wrapped up before the Stamp Duty holiday ended. It is clear to me now that the relationship that brokers have managed to foster with their banks means they can simply pull levers and make stuff happen that us ordinary folk cannot. Put simply, they are worth every penny, will take most of the stress out of the lending process, and seem to have access to deals that you just won't find on the internet. Thank you George and Jan for all your hard work!
Luther was excellent. Very clear in his advice and explanations of products and was able to move things on very quickly when we ran into difficulties with the estate agents. Without a doubt I would recommend Luther to all friends, family and colleagues. Luther was a joy to deal with and took a lot of the stress out of a troublesome transaction, from my end. I would view Luther as real asset to Clifton Private Finance Ltd.
The team at Clifton Private Finance has been outstanding, not only in helping me to obtain a mortgage on a slightly unusual home, but also in continuing to provide support and liaise with the lender and solicitors through to completion. Thank you for making the process of buying my first home much easier.
Sam O'Neill, and the new lender he identified for me, worked tirelessly together using my time constraints, to make sure my mortgage application was completed on time. They are a brilliant company to work with, fast, efficient, open and transparent from the very beginning, and turned a seemingly impossible situation into a viable one. Sam was brilliant throughout the whole process and I would highly recommend him, and his colleague Helen, to anyone without hesitation, I cannot speak highly enough about them.
I was incredibly lucky to find Clifton Private Finance after a search on line as their service has been more than exemplary. My point of contact was Sam 0’Neill and he was happy to help at every stage during the application of the bridging loan, making a stressful process much easier to deal with. He was always available by phone or email and gave prompt answers to queries I had as well as always getting back to me when he said he would. That to me is excellent customer service and I cannot thank him personally or the company enough for the support they have given me.
Adam cannot thank you enough for all your support throughout this arrangement. You have gone more than the extra mile to support us. Without you we would not have got our dream retirement home. You have been most professional and personable. Liz and I would be more than happy if you wanted to use us a reference with respect to any future clients.
Nigel & Liz K - Bristol
You have certainly shown me that you do everything for your clients, including tolerating their excessive emails and questions for updates. I have been kept in the loop, from yourself, about why the delays were occurring (Nationwide, post etc) which I would like to highlight that I really appreciated. I certainly will be able to recommend you to others as and when the need arises.
I recently contacted Clifton Private Finance after a Google search for bridging finance providers and was immediately struck by their efficiency and support. Forms were emailed over almost immediately and the necessary finance was arranged within a few days. None of the other companies I contacted came close to their professionalism, and the quote that I eventually received was impressive. Thank you Adam, your help has enabled us to reserve the house that we wanted and I certainly recommend you to others.
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Absolutely brilliant. The service was first class, got everything sorted efficiently and were always friendly. Any fees were negligible compared to the service offered. Robert was particularly outstanding.
My advisor, Robert, was very helpful in finding the mortgage to suit me. He kept me up to date throughout the process and dealt with any issues when they arose.