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Where do You Want to Live in France? If not in Paris, Then You’ll Find Me on the Côte d’Azur!

Slide from Adrian Leed's presentation on how to decide where to live in France


I don’t get the opportunity to get to Cannes very often, but a friend and I made a plan to go there for lunch and shopping on Saturday afternoon. The idea was to be back in time to do the webinar, “How to Decide Where to Live in France,” hosted by the Federation of Alliances Françaises USA Saturday evening.

Cannes, France


Cannes is easy and inexpensive to get to from Nice by train or bus, making it a perfect day trip for a different perspective. We met up with Jennifer Parrette, one of our Property Search consultants, her musician husband, Vinx, and a friend of theirs visiting from London for a copious and delicious lunch at one of their favorite restaurants in Cannes, Yvan’s, on rue Hoche not far from the train station (29 Rue Hoche, 06400 Cannes, +33 9 51 01 83 39. One of the city’s best little bistrots.)

The Grilled Daurade at Yvan's in Cannes, France

The Grilled Daurade at Yvan’s

Crossing the famous Croisette was no easy task, as it is currently under complete rejuvenation, as are a couple of the city’s most important hotels, including the iconic Carlton. The Croisette is the boulevard and promenade that runs along the sandy beaches of the Baie de Cannes lined with hotels, luxury shops and holiday homes, famous as THE place to see and be seen. Cannes is a mecca for events and tourism on the Côte d’Azur, whose history begins with the expansion of the city in the 19th-century.

The Carlton Hotel on the under construction Croisette in Cannes, France

The Carlton Hotel on the under construction Croisette

The rejuvenation project undertaken by the city includes the widening of the beaches, the renovation of the bathing establishments, a complete overhaul and modernization of the underground networks, the creation of a thalassotherapy network, a seawater air conditioning, and heating process that will enable the Croisette buildings to save energy.

The revival of the Carlton Cannes has finally arrived. This ambitious renovation and extension project is scheduled to end this Spring, to preserve the Belle Epoque soul of the hotel while bringing together modern design elements. Interior designer, Tristan Auer, has been entrusted to orchestrate the refurbishment to infuse true Carlton style, and harmoniously blend heritage and luxury to create a modern-day masterpiece.

The Carlton Hotel in Cannes, France

The Carlton Hotel

Cannes is certainly worth a visit, and the shopping is fabulous, but for everyday living…it’s tough to beat Nice! (I personally wouldn’t trade it!)


Slide from Adrian Leed's presentation on how to decide where to live in France

Slide from Adrian Leed's presentation on how to decide where to live in France

This was the first time I had given this particular webinar, and that may be the reason we had such a large turnout—about 300 people took time on their Saturday to hear what I had to say about How to Decide Where to Live in France. The last 15 minutes were devoted to answering questions. A few that did not get answered, but are worth addressing now were:

Q: What is the least humid region of France?

A: Off the top of my head, I wasn’t sure, but guessed that the Mediterranean climate, which is the best in France, is also likely the least humid. And I was right, now that I’ve had a chance to “Google” it.

Slide from Adrian Leed's presentation on how to decide where to live in France

Q: You mentioned no MLS [in France] but I see many of the same properties on many different sites. Are they publishing them illegally?

A: A property can be mandated by several agencies and each of those agencies can publish marketing about those properties as they wish. There is nothing illegal about one property promoted on many websites!

Q: I love mountains as well as the sea. What areas would be best for me?

A: Nice, of course! You can live in the hills and have views of the sea. You can also travel to the Alps to ski in about two hours’ time!

Slide from Adrian Leed's presentation on how to decide where to live in France

Q: Is a French driving license hard to get?

A: Yes! Check out this article: “5 reasons why it’s so hard to pass your driving theory test in France.” And for a fun and informative read, check out French License by Joe Start.

Slide from Adrian Leed's presentation on how to decide where to live in France

Q: So, even if I’m a tourist renting a car in France I need a French driver’s license?

A: No, not at all. You can rent a car with your U.S. driving license. There is no requirement for an International License:

An International Driving Permit (IDP) is a legal requirement to drive in many foreign countries, and it is a United Nations-regulated travel document for your benefit and safety. IDPs entitle the holder to drive in all contracting countries other than his/her country of residence, without further examination, as long as they hold a valid domestic driving license. Contracting countries are those countries that have subscribed to one or more of the UN International Conventions on Road Traffic. Check the IDP requirements of your destination before you travel. It is a requirement for renting a car in many countries. Failure to fulfill this requirement may constitute a criminal or civil offense and may have serious consequences. Driving without an IDP may trigger exclusion under your travel insurance policy if claiming for loss or damage caused while driving a motor vehicle abroad. (Source)

Slide from Adrian Leed's presentation on how to decide where to live in France

Q: We’re a bi-racial family moving from Canada. Looking for affordability and diversity….any tips?

A: Stick with the urban areas where there is ethnic and international diversity.

Q: We love Nice, but are there smaller cities close to Nice you would also recommend?

A: All of the cities along the Riviera are divine! But none of them offer what Nice offers: immediate access to an international airport, car-free living and a large American community.

Slide from Adrian Leed's presentation on how to decide where to live in France

Port Lympia in Nice

Q: If you have an EU passport, how does that factor in buying/leasing?

A: Anyone can rent or buy property in France. The passport is not necessarily an advantage.

Q: How about rental property? Should one work with an agent/consultant or are there good rental sites?

A: Finding the properties is not as difficult as getting landlord approval. Without someone working on your behalf, if you are not a French national with a “CDI” work contract, you will need an advocate to secure the property on your behalf. This is one of our primary services!

Slide from Adrian Leed's presentation on how to decide where to live in France

For those of you who couldn’t attend the Zoom one-hour presentation with a Q and A, it was recorded and is available for viewing on the Federation of Alliances Françaises USA website.


I might have been the last person I know to actually walk to Villefranche-sur-Mer from Nice along the waterfront, although I confess that we didn’t make it all the way there before deciding to hop the 15 bus back to Nice, nor did we take the rocky path that most hikers love. Still, after a copious lunch of Salade Niçoise and Les Petits Farcis at Le Safari on the Cours Saleya, we set out by foot to take the path along the water in that direction.

A Salade Niçoise at Le Safari

A Salade Niçoise at Le Safari

The weather was perfect—cool, but sunny with blue skies, warming us up from the rays of the sun to a point where we had to remove our coats and scarves. The water was that bright aqua color that just knocks your eyes out. In spite of the cold, there were swimmers braving it and a many other strollers, doing what we were doing. The path takes you around the Old Port, along boulevard Franck Pilatte to boulevard Carnot and beyond.

We took our time and enjoyed the beautiful views along the way. The first part of the trip is largely uphill, I warn you. (It might be smarter to start at Villefranche and work your way to Nice!) And of course, you can stop at any point and hop the bus, like we did, if you poop out, liked we did!

There are several bloggers who have done a great job of outlining just how to do the walk the correct way…that a couple of old ladies like us weren’t prepared to do, but should have been! Here are two to guide you better than I can:


Tomorrow is a day of mass strike action in the ongoing battle between the French government and unions over pension reform. Rail unions are strongly backing the action with two-thirds of the TGV trains canceled. It looks like I may be one of the lucky ones, as my afternoon train back to Paris seems to be running as usual. Fingers crossed…

People stranded at train stations during a transport strike

A la prochaine…

Adrian Leeds dining on a Salade Niçoise at Le SafariAdrian Leeds
The Adrian Leeds Group®

P.S. We host or speak at a number of events each year. To see what we’re up to next, please see our Events page on our website.


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