Kvelling on the Côte d’Azur
I’m “kvelling.” If you don’t know what that means, it’s a Yiddish word coming from high German (quellen) so used now in the English language that made it into Webster’s Dictionary, meaning ‘to be extraordinarily proud’ to the point of gushing!
That’s how I feel after three days of what could have been the most successful Living and Investing in France Conference of the last decade. We had about 35 attendees who came mostly from the U.S. to discover Nice, its environs and how to live and/or invest in France. They showed up to the conference room at the Hôtel Ellington early and raring to go — a sign that that this was going to be a friendly group and the energy was already high before we even got started. I was ‘kvelling’ even at that early point.
It has been years since we had held our last conference and never in Nice. This time around, we had almost all new speakers, so there was no telling how well they would do, nor how well they would be received. Most of the speakers had flown in from Paris just to tell their stories and impart their valuable words of wisdom, but a few were from the area.
We were privileged to have Denis Zanon, Director of the Nice Tourist Office, who kicked off the event with information on how Nice is growing, changing and is becoming such a vibrant city. They loved him! “Very encouraging and exciting [to learn] about Nice and its growth and potential,” one attendee remarked.
Then Peter Zipper, President of Caye International Bank, had everyone laughing to his dry humor and his stories of secretive clients who meet him in parking lots! “This man is hysterical. Banking has never been as clear, interesting or amusing.” “I’m ready to open an account today. Love Peter’s humor.”
Sébastien Bacoup, from Atisse Audit et Expertise, spoke about How to Minimize Your Tax and Maximize the Benefits - a complicated subject when talking about French tax! But one attendee wrote, “Knows the topic well and made it simply explainable.” He managed to take the fear out of French tax, but saying three times, “100% of zero is still zero!”
David Carbuccia came to fill in for Mary Fort from Banque Patrimoine & Immobilier to talk about How to Obtain a Mortgage in France - and he did a more than excellent job making it very clear how someone qualifies for a mortgage in France. “Great presentation — a good presenter — a lot of info — very educational.” Many of those thinking they would just ‘pay cash’ ended up learning how valuable a mortgage can be, especially thanks to low interest rates, creative loan products and the tax advantages.
Before we broke for lunch together, Fréderic Latty from the Institut de Français offered his words of advice on How to Learn French and Speak Fluently — and how the method at the Institut works so well for so many. “Great passion for his subject matter!” In fact, Fréderic was so passionate, that he gave a large group of attendees a tour of the Institut in Villefranche-sur-Mer as part of Sunday’s coach tour, and a couple of our attendees have already signed up for his course!
Coffee breaks took place on the lovely outdoor terrace of the hotel as did the closing cocktail. Lunch of three courses of delicious French dishes with wine in the dining room adjacent to the terrace was in an uproar with everyone was having such a good time getting to know one another.
Stéphane Adler, Notaire from Bonnart Stephane Adler et Chantal Lavisse Associes, was concerned that the attendees would be sleepy and less coherent after such a sumptuous luncheon affair, but “au contraire!” He humorously spoke about the process to Buy and Own Property in France and wowed them: “Good insight into the French process” and one person wrote, “Perfect!“
Martine di Mattéo, Interior Architect, and I co-presented How to Renovate, Decorate and Rent Your French Property for Profit — I, presenting the nuts and bolts of the business, while she showed off her handywork with before and after photos from many of the apartments she’s luxuriously renovated and decorated. “The two of you brought it together.” “The visuals were terrific!” “Inspiring and exciting aesthetic presentation!,” were some of the comments.
Then I co-presented once again, this time with Claire Healy from Attika International Real Estate. I opened with How to Find Your Dream Apartment in Paris or Home in the Country and Claire spoke specifically about the various districts of Nice as well as the properties they lined up for he Open House on Saturday. About the presentation, the comments were “Helpful with the various comparison of Paris and Nice, architectural styles, benefits and drawbacks.” “Process so well explained — nothing to worry about…” “Can’t wait to view the properties!” Claire and her agent, Celine Clausse, handed out the maps to the 10 properties open for viewing between 2 and 5 p.m. Saturday afternoon, manned by both her team and mine.
Carole Jaskarzec and Tanya Uniacke of Moneycorp Currency Specialists spoke about How to Reduce Your Currency Exchange Risk, with Carol at the helm of the PowerPoint. We’ve been partners for many years and have saved our clients thousands of dollars on the exchange of currency when purchasing or maintaining a property. “Better rates than my current exchange rates,” one attendee noted.
At the end of a long and intensely informative day, Beverley Holt, from the Holistic Professionals Network, had everyone up on their feet, jumping around, exercising, taking deep breaths and smiling BIG. She was teaching us How to Meet Other Expats and Enrich Your Life. What a send off! One person commented, “Wow!” and another, “Brilliant!”
Then off to the terrace we all were for cocktails to wrap up the day. By then everyone had made lots of new friends. The conversation was a roar once again, until we departed the hotel and said, “A demain” (until tomorrow).
Saturday I opened my apartment, “Le Matisse,” for viewing along with the adjacent apartment, “La Côte du Paradis” for the Open House. The attendees came by in small groups they formed along the way as they went from one property to the next on foot…10 in all from the Quartier des Musiciens to the Old Port. The properties were the ones noted in last week’s French Property Insider.
When they stopped in to visit with me at Le Matisse, I was ‘kvelling’ again! They asked questions about the renovation and noted that it was helpful to see what could be done if one were to buy an apartment unrenovated needing ‘pazazz’ such as these two that had Martine’s creative touch.
My advice — renovate and decorate to your taste…even if it costs you more — as it’s more than just an investment for financial reasons…it’s an investment in your happiness and your future! Everyone could see how much I adore my apartment in Nice and how delightful it is to spend time in it — and not just an ordinary space that perhaps would not have me ‘kvelling’ so much!
On Sunday we boarded the luxury coach for a full day tour of the Riviera. It’s almost impossible to describe the camaraderie that took place over the three days and how much fun 31 people on a bus can have while overlooking the Mediterranean, drooling over the mansions, being awed by the sights and realizing that this could be a reality for any one of us.
The driver of the coach was extremely adept at maneuvering the enormous vehicle on the tiny “corniche” roads and avoiding the Triathlon de Nice Runners on the route — one of whom was particularly colorful! The guide, Fréderic, was a brilliant historian who was able to answer even our most difficult questions. The rain from time to time along the way did not deter us from having a perfect excursion, even with damp clothing and cloudy skies.
We had time to tour Eze Village, Saint-Jean-Cap-Ferrat, Beaulieu-sur-Mer and take either a tour of the Institut de Français or a leisurely lunch at the port of Villefranche-sur-Mer. We spent some time in the old town of Menton and along the way had panoramic views of Monaco and the other enclaves along the coast. We took the “Basse Corniche,” the “Moyenne Corniche,” and the “Grande Corniche” to arrive at all our destinations. Along the way, we laughed, we took photos, we were awestruck…but most of all we all made friends for life.
At the end of an amazing three days, I walked home ‘kvelling’ like never before and feeling very rewarded by everyone’s response to what we had just experienced:
“Outstanding seminar Adrian. It exceeded my expectations and I feel as though I have really learned a lot about buying property. Thank you so much.”
“Great variety of sessions…great schedule.”
And I know from what was not written, but what was expressed, that none of us will ever be the same again now that we’ve had a taste of Nice and the Riviera from this new and enlightening point of view.
Let’s hope we all do it again…and do it soon.
A la prochaine…
(In Beaulieu – photo by Anne Morton)
P.P.S. If you missed the Living and Investing in France Conference held in Nice this past weekend, you can still find your dream apartment in Paris, on the Riviera or home in the French countryside for rent or purchase! My team of rental professionals can assist you in finding the ideal property based on your specific preferences, budgets and needs. For details or to book our services, visit French Property Consultation or email [email protected].