A LETTER FROM THE FRENCH RIVIERA.

Posted by admin in Property Investment, The South of France | January 9th 2005

As I sit down at my keyboard in Cannes this Sunday morning Sky News is reporting that Carlisle is flooded. Hurricane warnings are being broadcast and huge parts of Wales and the West of England are under freezing water. Rivers have burst their banks and a state of emergency has been declared in 40 areas so far. More icy rain and gales are predicted.

In contrast I went for a jog this morning around the lovely Cap d’Antibes dressed in my Cape Town running shorts and sleeveless vest. I met and greeted at least a couple of hundred other runners and walkers, and ten times as many cyclists enjoying the pristine morning on quiet roads and broad pavements. The sun is shining and the bay of Cannes is dotted with sails, including those of a flotilla of ‘Optimist class’ one person yachts from the sailing school at Palm Beach, and their twelve year old learner sailors. A few people have found a quiet patch of beach and are in their swimming costumes, reading the Sunday paper and keeping their suntan topped up.

The mountains of the ‘Alpes Maritime’ were a stunning backdrop as I jogged along the Eastern shoreline of the Cap, their snowy white peaks highlighted in the crisp morning sun. The younger members of our family have taken the car to enjoy skiing and snowboarding on the slopes just an hour from Cannes while their parents catch up in the office!

Life on the French Riviera is very good. The joy of living, the ‘joie de vivre’ is palpable and it is everywhere. It is in the colour in the cyclamen lined boulevards, the clothes the people wear, the smiles on the faces and the warm greetings from passers by, and the laughter of the children on their roller skates and bikes.

The Cote d’Azur as this coast is famously known stretches from Menton on the Italian border, through Monaco, Nice and Cannes to St Tropez in the West, and is less than an hour and a half drive on the A8, end to end. It stretches from the beautiful Mediterranean to the mountains, a narrow strip of very special land protected from the vagaries of European weather by geography – namely the Alpes Maritime. The climate is that of Cape Town minus the wind! Summer is famous but winter is beautiful too, and it is a regional tradition to braai (barbecue if you are not from Southern Africa) on New Years day.

Real Estate became sought after here when the Americans and the Russians recognized the wonders of the climate and the lifestyle more than a hundred years ago. The Rothschilds and their wealthy friends bought huge estates and built fabulous homes up and down the coast, and the Russian aristocracy did the same. The latter perished during the Russian revolution in their thousands, but their castles, villas and churches stand today as monuments, it could be said, to their excesses. In the 1920’s and 30’s the British moved here in droves, and much of the development in Nice and the famous 9 km. ‘Promenade des Anglais’ at its heart is testament to their influence on the region.

Today the Cote d’Azur is the destination of choice for millions of discerning individuals from Europe and around the world and it is where many choose to invest. WHY?

The weather and the stunning scenery I have already covered.
Culture. The history of the region goes back to ancient Greek times and Antibes and Sophia Antipolis are old Greek towns a few miles from here. Roman influence and ruins include Emperor Augusta’s “Trophee”, a soaring monument built at the ancient gateway to the Alps just above Monaco in La Turbie, and the Roman port at Frejus. Mediaeval villages top many of the hills and mountains, and are wonderful to visit today, examples being Eze, St.Paul de Vence, Gorbio and Mougins.
More recently the wonders of the region attracted some of the worlds most renowned artists – Cezanne, Degas, Monet, Renoir, Picasso all lived here, as did many other leaders in nearly every field of human endeavor. They still do.
Gastronomy. Arguably the best food and wines in France are proudly served from even the most modest restaurants, while for connoisseurs the choice is greater than anyone could sample in a lifetime.
Security and cleanliness is another source of pride.
Golf. Year round some of the most beautiful and prestigious courses in Europe offer golf which is both affordable and within an hour drive of Cannes. There are 15 major courses in the Cote de Azur, the most well known perhaps being the Royal Mougins Golf Club, Golf du Claus Amic, Golf du Chateaux de Taulane, and the Monte Carlo Golf Club. Contrary to popular belief they are not all impossibly expensive, and all except one offer special rates and incentives at all times of the year.
Skiing. It is not widely known that world renowned ‘pistes’ like Isola 2000, Auron, and others are within an hour and a half of Cannes. During the season buses leave every morning from the City Hall (and return every afternoon) for the slopes, providing a terrific service to those who would rather not drive.
Yachts and boating.
Schools and theatre.
Shopping and gambling.

Business. The Cote d’Azur is highly developed to cater for every business, and it is in itself a dynamic and very international micro-economy. In addition businesses from around the world choose to meet here, for all of the reasons outlined above. The best known example perhaps is the Cannes Film Festival which attracts 70 000 delegates each year. But the GSM (cell phone technology) conference attracts 40 000 to Cannes, MIPIM (property), MIPCOM (communications), MIDEM (advertising) and many others bring year round business guests to our lovely city and coast. Cannes is the centre of this industry and prides itself on providing a destination that welcomes and caters for every need of every delegate.

For property investors who need or wish to realise some rental income from their investment on the Cote d’Azur, I would highly recommend that they look no further than Cannes and its immediate environs.

THE RIVIERA HAS IT ALL.

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