Property Letter – 2nd May 2005.

Posted by admin in Property Letters | May 2nd 2005

Dear All,

(Please scroll forward if you don’t want to read the letter below, but just want to look at the properties we recommend. I know this is rather long, but the feedback I get is that people who are interested in investment in property generally, or in Cannes in particular, are genuinely interested and do not want me to be too brief.)

We are back in Cannes until the end of July. (Then again from September to November) It is very exciting as there is just SO much happening here both in and outside of work, with spring in the air and the beaches filling up, and an atmosphere of expectation of summer. The gorgeous mauve splashes of wisteria and the prunus in full bloom, great cascades of jasmine and the familiar bauhinia we know so well from home, and every imaginable scent filling the atmosphere, and preparations for the Cannes Film Festival in 10 days time under full throttle. Its all go.

This really is an amazing place – this morning on our way to work we glanced out over the bay and there was the biggest cruiser I have ever seen in my life just sitting there, dwarfing a few other cruise vessels also in the bay. It looks as if a great skyscraper has been laid on its side in the Bay of Cannes! We often get big cruisers here, but this one is ridiculous.

Our first two weeks have been spent in part unearthing some lovely apartments which I will detail later in this letter. The old cliché that “nothing stays the same” is certainly true, and we find we need to deal with change at a breathtaking pace, which is as it should be because without change there is no growth, although sometimes it would be nice to have just a moment to come up for air!

A couple of changes that I would like to mention though are:

The “Green Plan” for 2005. (I have written about it before) It is very obvious in Le Suquet (the Old Town) where street improvements and beautification of the environment are visible everywhere, and in other areas around the town, but the Place de l’Etang in Palm Beach is transformed. It remains the centre for the game of ‘boules’ (or ‘petanqu’ if you prefer) but has just had an amazing makeover, with complete resurfacing, gardens created, and water features, new (fully grown) trees and pathways, and perimeter roads resurfaced. Work is almost finished and in the last few days the open air restaurants and cafes in the south eastern corner have reopened, and the boules players have returned from wherever they went during renovation. I am excited about our properties’ values in Palm Beach and particularly those around the Place because it is without doubt the up-and-coming ‘quartier’ of Cannes.
On the Eastern side of Palm Beach work has started on the improvement of the beachfront and the whole length of Boulevard Eugene Gazagnaire which borders it.

Property values. (I never know whether to present this as good news or bad!)
Many of you have bought real estate in Cannes and will be pleased, and many would like to buy but haven’t yet, and may feel that you have left it late.

I wouldn’t see it like that because this environment is dynamic. Ever since the English and American aristocracy and royalty from all of Europe first recognized the beauty and warm winters of this little town in the 19th century, and engineered the transition from small town to the most ‘elegant’ resort on the Riviera, visitors have flocked to Cannes. But is has changed again, and very rapidly in the last 30 years, preserving its past as a playground for the elite, but also becoming a symbol of holiday-making, escape, entertainment and home for the arts, and an important workplace, with the International Film Festival and many conventions relying on it to host them with impeccable style and efficiency. It has a century and a half tradition of staying ahead of the pack, and a host of natural advantages on its side (like weather, and sand beaches, culture and sheer picturesque beauty) and it is not about to let that tradition slip. Witness the Green Plan for 2005 as an example of staying ahead.

But values have risen! Vicky and I are constantly surprised by it. Therefore the apartments that we are offered now are normally valued at over 6000€ per square meter, and closer to the centre, or with a sea view or close to the Croisette, more than that. It is also increasingly difficult to find lower budget properties that are good enough to recommend to investors. Only a year or two ago we could find investments for people in the ‘up to 150 000€’ range, but if we find them now we have to move exceedingly fast to secure them. We have lost a couple recently and so far this trip we have seen none.

The Cannes International Film Festival.
With it being perhaps the most well known event on the calendar, and just over a week away, it might be the right time to write a bit about it for those who are interested:

It takes place each year in May, and for two weeks brings together actors, creators, producers, distributors, marketers and technicians. This event ranks second in the world only to the Olympic Games in terms of media coverage and is truly the melting pot for all the cinema of the world.

The idea was launched in 1938 and Biarritz was originally suggested as the venue, but the facilities there were judged to be inadequate at the time, and Cannes got the vote. So organization for the first International Film Festival began, in total denial of the cataclysm that was about to happen. A ‘pre-festival’ began on 1st August 1939 and there was a month of glittering festivities with the Americans having chartered a ship to bring the stars such as Norma Shearer, Mae West, Gary Cooper, Tyrone Power, and George Raft to Cannes. The festival itself was due to start on September 1st and until 28th August it was hoped that it would take place, but six days after that Hitler launched his Panzers on Poland.

The idea was taken up again in 1945, but it was impossible to organize that year because of a lack of hotel space, Cannes being a center for ‘rest and recuperation’ for Allied officers. So the first International Film Festival in Cannes took place in September 1946.

It was suspended in 1948 and 1950 for financial reasons, and interrupted during the popular worker and student upheavals of 1968, but its reputation grew and grew, with new elements such as the addition of the now famous award of the “Palme d’Or” in 1955, expansion of the business aspects of the festival, and the opening of the new Festival Hall in 1983. Today over 75 countries are represented each year, with 3 500 journalists, 220 television crews, and 150 radio stations.

The Palais des Festivals itself stands on a surface area of 70 000 sq.m. and is the third largest convention centre in Europe, after Paris and Vienna. It has eight levels, two being underground, and three halls the biggest of which can seat 2 300 people with a 480 sq.m. stage, and a screen 21 m. wide. There are 22 meeting rooms with seating for up to 300 people, 24 000 sq.m. of exhibition halls, and fabulous terraces the largest of which is 4000 sq.m. with views across the bay of Cannes to the Isles Lerins, and the Esterel mountains. At the heart of the development of the new Palais des Festivals was Philippe Erlanger who when it was complete said “Nowhere else is there such a balance between the beauty of the site, the prestige, the facilities offered, and the comfort of the hotels and facilities in a long standing tradition. Distances in Cannes remain on a human scale, which makes communication easier. The Festival Hall is in the middle of town. The sea and the sunshine, the mild temperatures, the pleasant lifestyle are combined to create the essential conditions sought by all event organizers: an ‘atmosphere’.”

With best regards,

Guy.

Investment Properties Available and Recommended Today:
(All prices quoted are asking price)

Esterel.
This apartment is a cracker – and it won’t be around for long. It is a beautiful secondary residence, and a top rental/investment opportunity.

o Location Croix des Gardes
o Bedrooms 2
o Bathrooms 1
o Separate toilet 1
o Living room 1
o Floor level 1
o Living space 72 sq.m
o Balcony 15 sq.m
o Garage no
o Parking 1 dedicated space – plentiful guest parking secure
within the complex
o Cellar yes
o View Gardens
o Faces North West (and the bedrooms east)
o Purchase price 485 000 euros
The History. Villa Esterel was built at the turn of 20th century with 6 hectares of land around it. In those days it was on the outskirts of Cannes, a very popular area set in gently rolling hills but not more than a few hundred meters from pristine sandy beaches. It had everything that the wealthy English and American families of the epoch were looking for, and they spared no expense in developing their dreams. The trees they planted are still there today, carefully preserved and 100 years old, and include exotics such as huge Lebanese Cypress, a wide variety of towering palms, and many others.
Today much of the land has been sold off and turned into an exclusive and sought after residential suburb a few minutes from the centre of Cannes, and only 2.5 hectares of the original 6 remains as part of the Villa development. The park is “classes” or “protected by law”, and four years ago the Villa itself was converted into 9 luxury apartments, and 40 others were built, carefully planned for conservation of the park, and to stay strictly within the guidelines imposed by the conservation order. So the total community of Villa Esterel today comprises 49 residences. The surroundings, the gardens and the pool are pristine, peaceful, and alive with birdsong.
The centre of Cannes is five minutes away by car, although one would never guess it, and the 5 km of unbroken sandy beach known as the Plage du Midi linking Cannes to La Napoule is only 300 meters away, a pleasant stroll down a narrow lane.
The Apartment is situated on the first floor of the Old Villa Esterel itself, and although the staircase is broad and easy, there is also a lift as the building has 3 floors and 9 apartments in total.
It has a private entrance on the first floor landing.
The renovation of the building has been exceptionally well and thoughtfully done and although the apartment is modern with every imaginable comfort, it has preserved the character with original wooden beams exposed and running through the ceilings in the living room and bedroom wing.
The floors are in a soft terracotta tile in the body of the apartment, although the bathroom, toilet and kitchen are separately and individually tiled.
The main bedroom is spacious, and with the second bedroom and the bathroom, looks east into the gardens, and up the hill towards the swimming pool. All the windows are original in style with white wooden shutters.
Cupboading in the bedroom area is generous and well constructed.
The modern and inviting bathroom is tiled in white and blue, as is the separate toilet.
The living room leads to the dining room which in turn gives onto the most stunning open plan kitchen which is light and bright and modern with every appliance and comfort imaginable. A generous bar with four stools divides the open plan kitchen from the dining area, and is clearly where the family who live there enjoys many meals. It is finished with black granite surfaces, and textured white tiles.
The kitchen in turn leads through wide glass doors directly onto a wonderful square terrace of 15 sq.m. with a retractable awning covering the whole expanse. It looks westward and parallel to the coastline through a cultivated woodland and garden of century old trees, to rolling hills beyond, which are “Provencal” in their character with villas and red roofs sparkling in the sunshine. The terrace is quiet, private, and the birds are all around.
The pool and gardens are also “classes”. The pool which is a full 25 m. in length is exclusively for the use of the 49 residents, and is set amongst lawns and a summerhouse. The view from the pool lawns is panoramic across the bay Westwards from Cannes, with the villages of La Napoule, and Theoule sur Mer clearly visible in the foreground, and the point and hills known as “Point de la Galeire” and the Esterel mountains in the distance, rolling away towards St. Tropez.
Photography – a collection of professional photographs that we have commissioned of this property are available on a website for those that would like to see them. Please contact me for the link.

Palais des Isles.

o Location Croisette
o Bedrooms 2
o Bathrooms 1
o Separate toilet 1
o Living room 1
o Floor level 5
o Living space 60 sq.m
o Balcony yes
o Garage no
o Parking street
o Cellar yes
o View Croisette and sea
o Faces East & south
o Purchase price 371 000€
The entrance to this apartment building is on the Croisette although the apartment itself on the 5th floor looks out over a side street with an oblique view of the Croisette and the sea. It is in the centre very close indeed to the Hotel Martinez so is excellently positioned. The building is old and has charm and some nobility, and is looked after by a gardien.

The apartment is air conditioned and both bedrooms still have the original fans in them. The second bedroom was created after the building was built, and is really a subdivision of what would have been a huge main bedroom, so it has no window of its own to the outside. There is a feeling that the partition is not permanent, and we might need to implement some improvements there. There is no bath, but a white and marble shower, and a separate toilet. The kitchen is large, open plan and fully equipped and is decorated in an attractive French style. It has its dishwasher and all appliances, and is light and bright as it has a window which opens out the back. The spacious living room gives onto a good balcony with ample space for eating outside, or just enjoying the view.

Henry IV.

o Location Croisette
o Bedrooms 1
o Bathrooms 1
o Separate toilet 1
o Living room 1
o Floor level 2
o Living space 50 sq.m
o Balcony yes but small (table and 2 chairs)
o Garage no
o Parking private
o Cellar no
o View hedges and a railway line (and a little sea)
o Faces East and west
o Purchase price 330 000€
Let’s deal with the view first! Yes it looks out of the back of the building, and there is an area of private parking, and a hedge, beyond which is the railway line. Like the apartment the railway line runs east–west, and therefore the view from the east balcony, or west from the bedroom is not directly onto the line, but oblique. There are 21 trains a day and they do not run at all between 11.00 pm and 06.00 am. The railway line is a fact of life of Cannes. This apartment is entirely double glazed in case noise should prove a problem, and through the double glazing almost nothing is audible. The apartment is air conditioned. From the balcony there is also an oblique view of the Croisette and the sea.

The location and standing of this renowned block on the Croisette is superb. It is right next to the 5 star Martinez Hotel, whose rear rooms share the railway line in just the same way. The entrance is gracious and gardened with an old world sweeping driveway with palm trees and lawns. The polished brass and glass revolving doors and marble surfaces throughout the building, the gardien in the office at reception, and the shine and polish everywhere point to a wonderfully maintained building of extremely high specifications. From the front door one is directly onto the Croisette.

The apartment is floored in huge blocks of pink marble – as are the bathroom walls. It is lovely. However to realize the full potential of the apartment it would be worth improving certain aspects. Namely the kitchen needs replacement, and we believe would benefit from being opened up to the living room, and the bathroom needs redesigning and renovation (without interfering in any way with the marble). The whole apartment needs to be painted for a fresher feel, and the balcony can be extended a little. Some of the electrical fittings need repair, and the whole apartment needs modern plugs and light switches. We have had a quote completed for all of that work, and it has come in at 33000€ including tax. We would propose that the quote is presented to the seller as necessary repairs, and the price of the apartment should take that into account. Perhaps an offer of 290 000€ would be accepted.

The building is wonderful and historic, the position almost impossible to beat, and an apartment on the other side of the building would be unimaginably expensive.

Mimosa.

o Location Centre of Cannes
o Bedrooms 1
o Bathrooms 1
o Separate toilet 1
o Living room 1
o Floor level 6
o Living space 46 sq.m
o Balcony yes (14 sq.m.)
o Garage no
o Parking street
o Cellar yes
o View south over rooftops of Cannes to the sea
o Faces south
o Purchase price 244 000€
This apartment high above the rooftops of Cannes has a lovely feel of openness. The view is uninterrupted across the town to the lovely Bay of Cannes, and the Old Town and ancient church and fortress that dominate Le Suquet. It has been completely renovated so is fresh and new, but is missing a kitchen, which needs to be installed from scratch. Only the plumbing and electrics are there.

Both the bedroom and large living room open onto a deep and spacious balcony the full width of the whole apartment.

The building is well looked after and has a gardien. The common areas are undergoing renovation as we speak, and in order to visit it we had to negotiate our way through papered stairs with masking tape, and painters’ equipment. This is really good because you start with a new building that has been paid for by existing owners.

The position in the centre of Cannes is perfect for an investment property, with a high rental potential. The kitchen is going to cost 8000€ to install and should be part of the price negotiation.

Hesperides.

o Location Palm Beach
o Bedrooms 1 (small) after renovation
o Bathrooms 1
o Separate toilet no
o Living room 1
o Floor level 3
o Living space 32 sq.m
o Balcony yes
o Garage no
o Parking very quiet ‘residents only’ gated street
o Cellar no
o View across playing fields, Palm Beach suburb, and sea
o Faces East
o Purchase price 188 800€
The position of this apartment is important. (See the letter above for my feelings about property in Palm Beach) This block is on the Hesperides side of Palm Beach which is close to the centre of Cannes, and it is just one block from the Croisette. The third floor balcony is generous and overlooks the very quiet street which is the only residents–only, gated street in Cannes. There is simply no traffic and no parking problem at all, and security also is very good because there is no through traffic. The apartment block is of very good standing, with a gardien.

The view is across the playing fields of the Stade des Hespirides, and beyond them, typical Palm Beach apartment blocks with good views of sea in between.

The apartment itself is a large studio apartment and because it needs complete renovation, we looked at the possibility of creating a small bedroom, making it into a small one bedroom apartment, which is advantageous for both rentals and for resale. All internal walls need to come out, and a bathroom and open plan kitchen created from scratch. Only the floors don’t need touching. The quote we have commissioned for the entire renovation comes to 41 000€ including tax. It could be slightly less if one retained it as a studio, but I would recommend that if it is to be done at all it should be done properly first time.

As with Henri IV the cost of future renovations should form part of the price negotiation. This is a good position, and a good block.

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