Follow the Tracks
The snow was thick on the fields traveling back on the Thalys high-speed train from Cologne on Monday; and so white was the sky that you couldn’t even see the horizon line. It was almost blinding and it was bitter cold and gray all weekend long, maybe even grayer than Paris might have been. Getting to and from Germany was “du gâteau,” easy and inexpensive, thanks to France’s amazing train system.
A NEW NICE IN LE VIEUX NICE
I was dreaming of Nice in such wintery weather, knowing the temperatures on the Riviera were at least 10 degrees warmer. Nice is in the news, too. I was thrilled to see that Nice’s Mayor, Christian Estrosi, is finally making plans to renovate Le Vieux Nice, something I’ve been hoping for a long time. He has asked to begin a major study in its entirety to develop his project which will concern almost all the facilities of the district: its paving, lighting and electrical network, and the state of the facades and monuments. Yeah!
This work of the municipal agents will take several months, but once their document is returned, it will then be necessary to work on a coherent “overall project” for the redevelopment of the area. Then will come the administrative procedures and public consultations. Expect it to take some time as this is quite a project. But it will obviously be at the heart of the mayor’s re-election campaign in 2026.
The work will really start during the next mandate. On the table is “a global reflection on the whole of Vieux-Nice,” while several investments have already been made in the last few years: regentrification of the rue Saint-François-de-Paule, work on the Sulzer parking lot, renovation of the Quai des États-Unis, work on the rue Alexandre Mari, redevelopment of the Corvesy parking lot, of the Saint-François and Pierre-Gauthier squares, and the opening of the Cours Jacques-Chirac, in particular. This will complete the facelift.
In his time, the past mayor of Nice Jacques Médecin*, known as “the builder,” had also restored some color to the old city. In May 1978, Jacques launched the “pedestrian zone” in Old Nice. Ten years later, the Palais de Justice parking lot was created and the city council intends to draw inspiration from this work.
*Interesting note: Jacques Médecin succeeded his father Jean Médecin as mayor of the city of Nice, serving from 1966 to 1990. Under suspicion of corruption, he fled France in 1990. He was extradited from Uruguay back to France in 1993, convicted and jailed. He died in 1998.
I quite love Christian Estrosi and all that he has done to Nice to improve it to the city it’s become today.
NIMES TO NICE, WHERE LIFE IS NICER
Speaking of Nice, International Living’s Lifestyle France spot in this month’s issue features our own Patty Sadauskas in an article by Tuula Rampont titled, “Nice: The ‘Goldilocks Spot’ on the French Riviera.”
The story behind the story is that Patty came to Paris in April of 2015 on a bit of a whim, not knowing if she could make life work in France. We met the day after she arrived on French soil and I asked her to work with us over lunch at Café Charlot. She’s been my right arm ever since.
Patty visited Nice often, almost always staying with me, but Nice wasn’t resonating with her then—perhaps because my location on rue Masséna was too busy and touristy for her. Meanwhile, she found a home in Nîmes, which was quite lovely, but lacking the sea and the cool breezes Nice offers.
One summer, during our period of Covid-19 restrictions of 2020, it was the hottest year in France since records began in 1900. And the year before, in June of 2019, Nîmes reached one of the highest temperatures in all of France—44.4 °C (111.9 °F). In Nice, the highest it got that month was 35°C (95°F). That’s when we started to hear Patty change her tune about Nice and she ended up moving to the seaside town over Thanksgiving weekend in 2020.
Patty has never regretted the move and loves Nice more each day. She managed to find the perfect apartment for herself with an amazing 270° view from the sea to the mountains, overlooking the Tête Carrée, the Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art of Nice and its park. She’s going to love it even more when her view of the Acropolis changes to a view of a beautiful park! (Have you seen the news about this? More of Estrosi’s plans include tearing it down and creating more green space! Read all about it!
To read Patty’s story by Tuula Rampont, download the PDF.
FOLLOW THE TRACKS
When it comes to real estate, one must follow where there is access to good transportation. Every time a new TGV line opens up, the cities on the line benefit with newfound growth. I am always preaching to my clients that they should choose locations to live in France that offer this—whether it be an international airport or a good train hub with lots of high-speed trains, or both (cities like Paris, Nice and Marseille).
The good news is that French President Emmanuel Macron wants a new suburban train network in France’s main cities, so that’s sure to make another big difference to real estate values and livability. Most Americans don’t know what it’s like to live without a car at all, but we expatriates living in France do. We have never regretted putting our driving licenses in the drawer for occasional use, but not for necessity. The more we can rely on public transportation, the better for our ecological health, our pocket books and our levels of stress.
The Paris RER* system transports more than 1.3 million passengers a day, getting them in and out of the city without a need for a car. Imagine how that keeps traffic and pollution down in Paris, and this is what he imagines for other cities as well.
M. Macron issued a series of videos to answer questions about his plans when he was asked, “What are you doing to develop rail transport in France, and offer a real alternative to the car?” The answer: to duplicate Paris’ RER system in other parts of France. Macron said that building these kinds of suburban train networks in other cities would be “a great goal for ecology, the economy, and quality of life.”
The question is where? He hasn’t named the cities, but the plan is to work on 10 of the country’s most important. Nice is already a step ahead with their tramway system, and trains to the neighboring communities, but I’d be surprised if Nice is not included in his program.
You can watch a video of Macron (in French, of course, but with English subtitles).
*The RER (Réseau Express Régional) system in Paris is a network of trains running across the region, connecting the suburbs to the city. It has been expanding ever since the 1960s and while it now covers a large area, the network is often considered less reliable than the city’s Métro, with passengers sometimes complaining of delays and poor infrastructure.
Le Figaro, a French daily morning newspaper founded in 1826, has already reported that cities such as Strasbourg, Bordeaux, Lille, Lyon, Grenoble, and Aix-en-Provence have already put their names in the hat to develop such a suburban system. Lyon is already ahead as they have discussions in the works for such a network to be fully operational by 2034. Lyon is the country’s third largest city.
France’s Prime Minister, Elisabeth Borne, is the former Minister of Transport. She will be spearheading the effort as when she was in this role, she had submitted the plans to develop RER systems in different French cities…and now Macron has taken her lead.
Again, follow the path of the tracks, and it will surely lead you to great places to live and increased property values.
A la prochaine…
The Adrian Leeds Group®
P.S. Let us help you “DECIDE WHERE TO LIVE IN FRANCE!”
For people wanting to move to France who haven’t yet settled on a particular city and want more options, this is a big topic. There are a lot of places in France to love and it’s easy to view them from rose-colored glasses. I will talk about all those wonderful villages, towns, cities, regions, etc., but with the practical aspects in mind that will help you make the best decisions.
Join me on Saturday, January 28, 2023 @ 2:00 p.m.-3:00 pm EST
(11:00 a.m. Pacific/12:00pm Mountain/1:00 p.m. Central/2:00 p.m. Eastern/8 p.m. CET France) with the Federation of Alliances Françaises USA for this one-hour session on Zoom. You’ll get the inside scoop on how to decide where to live in France. Where the tracks go is certainly one of the answers!