The Cote d’Azur, often known as the French Riviera, has always been one of the most desirable parts of France in which to buy property. The very name seems to conjure up an image of sun drenched sandy beaches, sophisticated towns, beautiful ancient villages and probably ports full of glamorous yachts.
Loved by so many people from around the world, the Cote d’Azur remains somewhere we would all like to visit, or better still, retire to!
The area is actually called Provence Alpes Cote d’Azur (sometimes called PACA) and there are 6 departments here: Alpes-de-Haute-Provence (04), Haute-Alpes (05), Alpes-Maritime (06), Bouches de Rhône (13), Var (83) and Vaucluse (84). The cheapest of these is Alpes-de-Haute-Provence.
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As a place to retire, it probably ticks all the boxes: a tranquil lifestyle and yet still with plenty of “buzz”, a wonderful climate, fresh food, lavender fields, boutique shopping, first class restaurants and plenty of cafes to while away a sunny afternoon. Can you see yourself there?
As for buying a property, you could very easily spend millions on a stunning villa overlooking the sea with pool and land. But for those of us with a smaller budget, it is still possible to buy property which will not break the bank – if you look carefully. As an investment, this is one of the best parts of France to buy property since prices rise more steadily than in many other parts of the country.
Property prices and affordable hotspots
The well known resorts of Nice, Antibes, Saint Tropez and Cannes all command a very healthy budget, but look a little inland and you can find more reasonable prices for property. As an investment, whatever you buy, this area is top in France with the fabulous climate, events such as the Monaco Grand Prix, local festivals and of course, the famous Cannes film festival.
Don’t totally discount Nice though! You can find a small central apartment in the old town for around €300,000. Unlike many other parts of France, properties to renovate are tougher to find in this area and if they do come on the market, they are immediately snapped up. Despite this, there are still some bargains to be had in many of the lesser known villages.
We have found 5 ideal retirement spots for you, all of which have huge benefits and offer a wonderful lifestyle, as well as being affordable.
Taken a shine to any of these properties? Make sure you’re prepared for a viewing trip with the tips and tricks from our Viewing Trip guide.
Fayence is in the Var department set between mountains and sea. It is known for its fine Provençal architecture, ancient history, vineyards, lavender fields and olive groves. It is larger than many villages in the Var and has an abundance of cafes and restaurants. It is also near to other well known spots such as Grasse, Mons and Seillans (the latter being listed as “one of the most beautiful villages of France”).
A budget of between €250,000 to €350,000 will find you a decent 2-3 bedroom house with small garden or terrace. Naturally, there are plenty of huge villas around the €1 million mark, but it is still possible to buy affordable property here.
Castellane is a wonderful small town located where the Alps meets the Mediterranean in the Alpes-de-Haute Provence department. It has a very rich history going back hundreds of years. Today, it thrives on its tourism and locally organised activities such as a torchlight procession, numerous fetes and art exhibitions. Expect to pay around €300,000 for a small house here.
As an investment, this is one of the best parts of France to buy property.
Tourrettes sur Loup
This is an utterly charming village, steeped in history and straight out of a storybook. It lies only about 14km from the coast, so both Nice and Cannes are accessible. It is known for its pretty colourful streets and narrow passageways, as well as its art and crafts galleries and boutique shops in the centre. You can find a small village house here for under €300,000.
Located in the Hautes Alpes department, this is said to be the highest town in France. Again with a fascinating history, Briancon has the most picturesque old town to explore and is popular with lovers of skiing, since it is quite close to the Serre Chevalier ski resort.
There is plenty to soak up here, not just the sunshine! The town is filled with pretty fountains, ancient cobbled streets and lots of lovely shops, cafes and restaurants in the centre.
A budget of around €200,000 will afford you a nice 2 bedroom house or apartment here.
Rustrel is a small and picturesque village located in the Vaucluse department. Boasting a wonderful 17th century chateau, it has a lot to offer in terms of activities during the summer months such as cultural events, art exhibitions, markets and fetes. It is also surrounded by some wonderful hiking and biking countryside.
Being a little further inland, Rustrel offers excellent value for money. You can find a pretty 2-3 bedroomed house for a budget of around €250,000. At €300,000 there are some lovely villas with gardens and pools.
For a smooth move to France, you need to make sure that your budget is protected to reduce risk from exchange rate flux. Find out how in our partner Smart Currency Exchange’s guide, The Property Buyer’s Guide to Currency.
Access from the UK
Provence Alpes Cote d’Azur is well served with airports. You have a choice of Nice, Marseille, Avignon and Toulon with regular flights to and from the UK, not forgetting Nimes airport which is just outside Provence.
By car, it is easily accessible from the A7. One of the loveliest ways to get there is by train via the Eurostar Provence high speed train service from London St. Pancras to Avignon or Marseille.
If your dream is to retire to the Cote d’Azur but you don’t have millions in the bank, do not give up! By looking a little further away from the coast in this beautiful part of France, you can find plenty of affordable properties, knowing also that the value is only likely to go up in time. A beautiful home and a peaceful lifestyle here is indeed possible.