Where to hunt for bet­ter value in the south of France

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the an­cient town are be­ing trans­formed ar­chi­tec­turally and will in­clude new build­ings and fa­cil­i­ties that cater to those look­ing for a lux­u­ri­ous mod­ern life­style while still re­tain­ing its old world charm.”

Pop­u­lar ar­eas of Grasse in­clude St Jean and St Mathieu to the east of the city cen­tre and St Jac­ques and St Fran­cois to the west, where there are larger prop­er­ties with lots of green space around. And it’s still con­sid­er­ably cheaper than Cannes; a €100,000 (£88,000) onebed­room flat with sea views in Grasse could cost €300,000 in Cannes and a €1.1mil­lion four-bed­room house with a gar­den, pool and views would cost al­most dou­ble.

Twenty min­utes south of St Tropez is La Croix-Valmer, an el­e­gant, old­fash­ioned town of­fer­ing bet­ter value and qual­ity of life than the ritzier lo­ca­tions nearby. Stacey Kille, an in­te­rior de­signer, moved to the town five years ago with her two chil­dren, Eleonore, 13, and Louis, seven. “I wanted to be in this area and near to the sea, but didn’t like the coast from Nice to St Tropez – too bling, too much con­crete and you get a lot more bang for your buck here,” she says. “The French have al­ways known about the town, but it’s now be­com­ing more pop­u­lar with the Bri­tish.”

Since 2015, when the plan­ning laws changed, more land has be­come avail­able to build on, so there is plenty of new de­vel­op­ment tak­ing place. The plan­ning rules are strict, so any new build has to be in keep­ing with the lo­cal ar­chi­tec­ture. Philippe Starck, the French de­signer, has bought the nearby Ho­tel Souleias, which will be re-opened as a Bio Ho­tel in two years, and a huge old Catholic church is be­ing re­de­vel­oped into flats. “The town has a fan­tas­tic Sun­day mar­ket, an ope­nair pool and lots of great shops,” Stacey says. “It has ev­ery­thing you could want and it’s close enough to the sea for me to be able to pop down with my chil­dren af­ter work.” A €1.5mil­lion four- bed­room villa with a pool in La Croix-Valmer would cost €1.875mil­lion in St Tropez.

Fur­ther west, Béziers – for many years the sec­ond cousin to Mont­pel­lier or Agde – is a town on the up. It may look a bit of a build­ing site at the mo­ment, but ma­jor im­prove­ments are al­ready ev­i­dent. Robert Mé­nard, the mayor, has been in­stru­men­tal in ren­o­vat­ing the city’s build­ings and cre­at­ing new pedes­trian ar­eas. There are more bou­tique ho­tels and small shops, plus the Poly­gone shop­ping cen­tre. On the other side of the Orb river, Les Neuf Écluses de Fon­séranes has also had a makeover. These nine locks now have restau­rants, cafés and an in­ter­ac­tive 3D mu­seum, with views across to Béziers’ splen­did cathe­dral of Saint-Nazaire. “The face lift has com­ple­mented the in­cred­i­ble changes be­ing un­der­taken in Béziers’ his­toric city cen­tre,” says Phil Rees of Home Hunts. A three-bed­room pen­t­house in Béziers for €299,000 would cost €470,000 in Mont­pel­lier, while a €199,000 four-bed­room town house would be €545,000 in Agde.

“Now is the time to buy in Béziers as prices are low,” says Clau­dia Goet­ting of Leggett. “It will be a fan­tas­tic in­vest­ment for the fu­ture. You can see the changes ev­ery­where.”

A 2,690 sq ft villa in Grasse, above, is €990,000 with Home Hunts; Knight Frank has a four-bed­room villa in La Croix Valmer, right, for €1.23m

This five-bed­room house in Grasse, main, where the Amer­i­can painter Mary Cas­satt hosted De­gas and Renoir, is €2.49m with Home Hunts

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