Where to hunt for better value in the south of France
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