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On the beach, no familiesColorful buildings of NiceRainfall in NiceFrom the airport into NiceVillefranche-sur-MerEze la VillageNiceMentonThe Nice districtsFlower market in NiceMonochromatic Amerians
We're counting down the days until we welcome the attendees of the Living and Investing in France Conference in Nice, September 27-29. The weather on the Riviera should still be warm enough for a swim in the Mediterranean -- at this time of year without the vacationing families.
There are several reasons we are devoting this conference to Nice and the Côte d'Azur, rather than our usual venue of Paris or San Francisco or New Orleans, where we have held many conferences of this kind in the past.
My interest in Nice began years ago when thinking about 1) a place in France for retirement, 2) possible investment rewards of real estate in other parts of France and 3) the lack of services on the Riviera targeted to a well-healed North American community or vacationers.
Let's face it. Nice is nice. It's the hub of the Riviera with an international airport. It is in close proximity to many other desirable communities along the coast, such as Cannes, Antibes, Villefranche-sur-Mer, Beaulieu, Eze, Menton and Monaco. Even the access to Italy and the Alps is literally minutes away by train, bus or car.
The sun shines in Nice 2,724 hours a year, compared to Paris' 1,662! After too many months of gray skies and light rain, the blue skies and sunny days are a heavenly respite from northern France. Look how it compares even with other southern cities in France:
So, I started going there to catch some rays. Air France flies to Nice almost every half-hour from Orly Airport. So does Easyjet with several inexpensive flights a day. The TGV has several trains a day from Gare de Lyon and while it takes a little longer than by air, it can be very relaxing and often very inexpensive. The point is that it's easy to reach. And from Nice, it's easy to 'hop' into Italy or take the ferry to Corsica.
Once in Nice, one doesn't need a car to have access to it all. The public transport system is efficient and inexpensive. And so is the transportation from the airport or the train station -- it's fast (15 minutes from the airport to central Nice), simple and inexpensive, too (6€). All in all, it made a great place to vacation and an even better place in which to consider retiring.
People who vacation or own second properties there come from all over -- Italy, U.K., Ireland, Russia, Australia and other spots around the globe. Therefore the service is open and friendly to a wide variety of people. I find the waitstaff in restaurants and cafés and salespeople are multi-lingual and easy to deal with.
The shopping has been more fun in Nice, too -- there is no shortage of wonderful boutiques, of both retail chains and independents, carrying more colorful, casual clothing, but stylish and of high quality. (I never leave Nice empty-handed!)
Then I started to realize there was tremendous investment opportunity in Nice. Price of property is about half of what it is in Paris, yet rental rates are only slightly lower. The rental period is a little less active in winter months, but it's the most year-round community on the Riviera because it's the business center and hub for them all. There is lots of real estate within walking distance of the ocean, too, or with a sea view, which of course increases the value of the property.
There are many interesting parts of Nice in which to hang your hat -- like Old Town for old world charm, Le Carré d'Or for a more 'bourgeois' lifestyle, the Old Port for a new, hip and up-and-coming vibe, the Promenade des Anglais along the water's edge if sea view is for you and up in the hills of Cimiez for a more suburban feel, but with beautiful views. And that's just the beginning of the possibilities, not only in Nice, but in all of the Riviera. The different lifestyles one can achieve living in anything from a studio in Old Town to a mansion overlooking the sea is endless in this part of the world -- all of it being elegant and rich.
Watching the improvements that the city has been making over the last few years, with the addition of the tramline, the renovation of Place Masséna, Place Garibaldi and others, the reconstruction of the "Coulée Verte" with the advent of a new bus station, etc., just shows how Nice property values will increase while the city is growing.
Because there is such a large Anglophone community (primarily made up of the British), there are many resources available in English. That makes a big difference to finding people who can assist in your every day life on the Riviera, but they weren't American and the services weren't quite up to our cultural standards.
Rent an apartment from a British owner and they may charge extra for the linens! In our American cultural minds we think, "why not just charge for it and include them?," where in their minds, they think, "why pay for something you don't get?" This is a small example, but because culturally we are so different from the Europeans, we end up with culture clashes in many small ways and don't feel quite 'at home' as we would otherwise.
(From TripAdvisor.com: "Re: Renting an apartment in NIce (Nice area) Riviera-rentals have properties in the pedestrian zone one block back from the Promenade des Anglais, on the prom itself and in the Old Town. Expect to pay around 500 to 800 euros a week depending on location and number of bedrooms plus a charge for linens and cleaning. That compares very well with typical hotel prices and you will have far more room.")
That's also when I realized that if someone needed to provide luxury vacation apartments for Americans who want and expect a high standard, and that they would be more attractive to live, invest and vacation in Nice and its environs.
In addition, I struggled to find a very strong cohesive North American community like there is in Paris. Sure, there are lots of resources in English, organizations to join and friends to make -- but they are peppered with the British and Irish and other Anglophones. And why not the Americans? Why isn't their community in Nice as strongly held together as it is in Paris?
This is my theory: Americans have always been very Paris-centric. Because Americans are so 'linear' in nature (or monochronic)*, and usually trade one thing for another, they often think that if they also fell in love with Nice, it would be like "cheating" on their lover -- Paris! So, the Riviera became the 'mistress' to which they couldn't admit!
In France, which is 'circular' in nature (or polychronic)*, we can have many lovers, and love them all for different reasons! So, why not have it all when one can?...Paris, Nice and the entire blue coast!?
This is what we aim to show at the upcoming Living and Investing in France Conference -- that as Americans, we can love it all and have it all! And ultimately make our mark on the Mediterranean, too, and not just the Seine!
Illysia decided to pursue a career in fashion and vowed to one day live in the City of Light. Now, with a successful career as a fashion stylist, Illysia is ready to make the second part of her dream a reality. She and her husband, Alec, are purchasing a pied-a-terre, which will serve as a frequent getaway from their Detroit suburb as well as an investment property that they may rent out when they're not there. But finding a place that will suit a family of four, appeal to potential renters and align with Illysia's strong sense of style, is a tall order. Watch what happens when "House Hunters International" strolls the fashionable avenues of Paris, France.