From the Cap to Juan-Les-Pins: a buyer’s guide
With the Cannes Film Festival in full swing Liz Rowlinson reviews the Rivieria’s villas
Surveying the superyachts and speedboats gliding across the gulf of Juanles-Pins from one of the multimillion-pound villas on Cap d’Antibes, it’s hard not to feel like a character in The Great Gatsby. It may be Cannes and the Estoril mountains that can be glimpsed from this gilded summer playground – and not the Long Island Sound of the 1926 novel – but it is from such a villa on the Cap that F Scott Fitzgerald wrote his bestselling novel after a season spent in the “hot, sweet south of France”.
The Roaring Twenties was a golden era for the Cap. In Fitzgerald’s words it was where “the whole world descends to forget or rejoice, to hide its face or have its fling”. Fastforward to 2016 and a constellation of Hollywood stars have just descended on the iconic Eden Roc for the Cannes Film Festival (May 1122) or to one of the pied de l’eau (waterfront) properties nearby that can cost €100,000 (£79,000) a month to rent.
The lustre of a home on this promontory that hangs like an anchor in the Med between Nice and Cannes has not faded over the decades. Narrow roads wind between umbrella pines, cypresses and the high-walled domains of 2,000-odd properties.
Much less dense than the towns of Antibes and Juan-les-Pins from which it juts, this protected area of former rose farms offers its residents privacy and tranquillity. This, combined with easy access to both Nice airport (8½ miles away) and the bright lights of Cannes, have combined to make Cap d’Antibes one of the two most sought-after addresses on the French Riviera, along with StJean-Cap-Ferrat, which is further along the coast between Nice and Monaco. Entry level for a home on Cap d’Antibes is around €2.3 million (£1.8m), which will get you a threebedroom Sixties home, according to Olivier Maugery-Pons of agent Savills. “On the east side of the Cap where there are smaller houses, the typical price range is €3.5m-€7m (£2.75m£5.5m),” he says.
“For the sunnier west side, the average price is €10m-€12m (£7.9m£9.5m). And prices triple in the most prestigious of all, Billionaires’ Bay – also known as l’Anse de l’Argent Faux (‘bay of false money’) – in the south.” A property sold there for €180m (£142m) in 2006 and you will also find the estates of the Russian oligarchs Roman Abramovich, Suleiman Kerimov and Andrey Melnichenko.
Abramovich has renovated the classical Château de la Croë that was leased by the Duke and Duchess of Windsor in the Forties after buying the three neighbouring properties. Next door, the glitzy annual parties of the “Russian Great Gatsby” Kerimov have featured the singer Beyoncé, while Melnichenko’s home wedding is reported to have cost £20m. Other neighbours are the Heineken family and the Warner brothers.
The latest Russian buyers have lower budgets, and prices have dropped 30 per cent from the market peak, according to Knight Frank. “Agents might tell you less, but this is the difference between prices being asked and achieved,” says Mark Harvey of Knight Frank, who adds that the average value of half-a-dozen sales in the past three years on Cap d’Antibes has been €7m (£5.525m).
Alexandra Connolly, a property consultant (alexandra-lloyd.com), reports that your money goes 30 per cent further on Cap d’Antibes than St-Jean-Cap-Ferrat, but that is not the only reason to seek one over the other. “The surrounding area is also the big distinction, with buyers preferring Ferrat to be close to Monaco, for networking, or Antibes and Cannes for its younger party scene,” she says. “You’d be shocked at how little you get for €10m on Cap Ferrat.” Quite.
And for those of us with a mere €1m
Best for affordability: the view, main, and living room, above, of the new complex the Parc de Cap, from €599,950 through Savills (020 7016 5034; savills.com)