Narrowing down your real estate search to just the prime property hotspots in France means making smarter investments. According to the French National Real Estate Federation, there was an average drop of 1.5% in property prices in 2014. Last year’s inquiries and sales saw an increase of 35% when compared to 2013. Currently, France’s buying conditions are too tempting to pass up, thanks to flexible pricing, low interest rates, and other favorable conditions. Coveted real estate in France is primarily located in the Alps, Languedoc, Paris, Provence, the Riviera, and the south west.
Popular residences in the Alps include renovated chalets with modern interiors, homes near Lake Geneva, and country estates or chateaux with easy-to-access skiing. Resorts of the Grand Massif include Samöens, Les Carroz, and Morillon; proximity to Geneva is helping the area to gain popularity. Samöens in particular is one of the more up-and-coming communes, offering excellent value to buyers. Les Portes du Soleil has the same appeal, with the addition of truly excellent skiing. Summer activity in the Grand Massif means high year-round use. Chamonix shares that feature, with only October and November making up the slow season.
In-demand property in Languedoc includes second homes near the coast or the Canal du Midi, stone properties with expansive land, and vineyards for either business or leisure purposes. Not yet taken over by tourism, the region is known for diversity: landscapes include everything from beaches to mountain plateaus. Between Carcassonne and Narbonne lie Languedoc’s premier spots. Additionally, Nimes, Uzès, and Montpellier are also desired. Languedoc is the only property hotspot that experienced a price increase (of nearly one percent) in 2014. Still, it’s a more economical choice than Provence, but with the same moderate climate. Favored as a holiday destination for the French, and close to the Mediterranean Sea, Narbonne is the best place to make an investment.
One of the most coveted second-home destinations, Paris is a young city (a majority of its residents under 40) and the financial hub of France. Overseas buyers prefer certain arrondissements, specifically the 6th, 7th, and 8th; the northern part of the 16th, near the Golden Triangle; the Parc Monceau area of the 17th, which is ideal for families; and Montmartre in the 18th, which has unbeatable views of the city. Apartments with Eiffel Tower views are specifically sought after in the 7th, 8th, and 16th arrondissements. In Montmartre, buyers tend to look for two-bedroom dwellings.
From the beautiful countryside to glamorous Saint-Tropez, Provence is sunny almost all year long. Highly requested properties include stone farmhouses with sizable land, grounds with hobby vines or olive groves, and houses that you can lock up and leave be. Many feel that the “real” Provence is in the Luberon, mainly the villages in the north, like Saint-Rémy-de-Provence. Coastal property is also a must-have, specifically in Bandol, Hyères, Saint-Tropez, Fréjus, and Saint-Raphaël. The villages on the south side of the Alpilles are growing in appeal, specifically those between Avignon and Arles, like Mouriès, Saint-Étienne-du-Grès, and Fontvieille.
There are three main property hotspots on the French Riviera. The first is in and around Mougins (which is a 15-minute drive from Cannes) and Valbonne. The area is complete with respected restaurants, lively villages, and France’s best international schools. Plus, it’s considered to be the European Silicon Valley. The second area takes in Cannes and Cap d’Antibes, which has idyllic beaches, exclusivity, and year-round activities. The third locale is Grasse and surrounding areas, which make for a sound investment because they’re up-and-coming localities and currently cost less than other nearby locations.
With the Alps as a backdrop, the Riviera enjoys mostly sunny days. Residents live in villas on the waterfront (or at least ones with sea views), in bastide-style homes, or in farmhouses in the countryside. Villefranche-sur-Mer and Saint-Jean-Cap-Ferrat are both close to Monaco and boast lovely views. The bay of Villefranche has been considered Europe’s most beautiful bay, and Cap Ferrat is the most expensive and most desired locale in the Riviera.
South West France
South west France is known for its Perigourdine and stone properties, as well as its chateaux designed with fairytale architecture. Dordogne is the most popular department in the south west, specifically Périgord Noir, which has fantastic scenery and ambiance. In 2014, prices dropped in two other beloved south west regions: Aquitaine and the Midi-Pyrénées. Additionally, the Lot-et-Garonne has gorgeous landscapes, and the Gironde, where Bordeaux is located, is a favorite among wine buyers.