Life After Confinement on a Beach-Side Balcony
Maybe it’s because I hadn’t seen the Mediterranean in three months, but the color of the water impressed me as the most gorgeous shade of aqua I have ever seen…as if I’d never seen it before.
I arrived in Nice Thursday evening just after the day’s storm subsided, quite fortunately. The train was fully booked…their promises of social distancing not adhered to. Masks were supposed to be worn, but one young woman near me never donned one. With angst I watched her kick and harass her adorable French bulldog so badly that I wanted to take the dog away from her and berate her for her anti-mask irreverence. Otherwise, everyone was respectful and the train was immaculate.
The moment I got off the train, I freed my face from the masked encumbrance and took in the fresh Niçois air, eyed the colorful buildings and felt a sense of peace to have arrived in my second home after such a long absence. Henri-le-Cactus was taller than ever in spite of his thirst and Henriette, his new “petite amie” seemed just as content. I quenched their longing for water, love and attention first thing before doing anything else, dropped my bags and headed out to Il Vicoletto (6, rue de France) for dinner with one of our Niçois clients who has beautifully settled into life here, in spite of the Covid-19 confinement.
There were only a few other diners. We chose to take a table outside on the terrace. The restaurants in Nice can now serve both inside and out and are slowly opening up following their new guidelines. The tables aren’t much further apart than before, but just enough. Some of them have new menus by virtue of a tiny plastic QR code that when scanned on your smart phone pulls up their menu. Wait staff are wearing masks, while diners can’t, naturally…unless someone invents a way of wearing a mask and eating at the same time! It feels so good to be free again! And to be dining out, especially in the warmth of the Mediterranean air.
Saturday I took the opportunity between predicted rain showers the coming week to spend two hours in a lounge chair on the “galets” (pebbles), just staring at the sea and its magnificent color. There was a smattering of sunbathers spaced reasonably apart and a few brave souls swimming in the milky, foamy water, while a cool breeze kept the sun from scorching our not-yet-tanned bodies. Being on the beach for the first time since last summer felt like I had died and gone to heaven. The sheer freedom of it was one aspect, but the visuals were simply eye candy.
More eye candy is now all over Nice in the newly planted greenery along the streets. There are fewer cars, fewer buses, less noise, less pollution and a whole lot more oxygen-producing trees, shrubbery and flowers. Nice is seriously coming of age and turning itself into a paradise.
Friday morning I visited the two-bedroom/two-bath apartment for sale on rue de France that we promoted a few weeks ago. There was a lot of interest and three full price offers made on the apartment, one of which was accepted because the buyer was paying cash — no mortgage contingency involved. But, the offer was contingent on my seeing the property and approving its value. It was at the top of my to-do list and the first thing I set out to do. It was also the first time I’d visited a property since confinement.
The apartment is just as lovely as the photos we first saw. There aren’t many negatives and none of them are things that can’t be remedied. As the seller had indicated from the beginning, the entry is less than charming. It needs work. This means that the owners (there are 9 in the building) will have to vote to repaint and upgrade. So, a first impression isn’t great, but this is normal, believe it or not. We see it time and again where the owners collectively don’t want to spend money on the common areas. As an owner, you’d have a voice and with some pushing, it would get done sooner rather than later.
The north-facing living room is still bathed in light as it bounces off the buildings opposite it. The balcony off the living room is large and stays cool and lovely as a result of it’s northern exposure — unlike mine which is too hot and sunny to be on! The back balcony is bathed in sun and is a perfect spot to hang your freshly washed laundry. The second bedroom has no ceiling light fixture, but as I said, this is an easy and inexpensive fix. There are 59 stairs — low rise and easy to climb. The glass roof over the stairwell bathes it in light. The appliances are all top name brands, just out of the box/never been used and excellent! (The washer doesn’t have a dryer, but that’s easy to replace.)
There are a few things I personally would do, but none of which are necessary. I can provide a detailed list to the buyer…but as I said, these things are a matter of taste. All in all the apartment is great! I really loved the way it feels — the large living room with two large windows/doors make it the perfect “heart” of the apartment. The location is amazing! The building is lovely, but as I said, needs a refresh. The balcony iron work is gorgeous.
(BTW, we have a great designer/contractor in Nice who can do this work for the buyer. She has worked with me for many years and could really make it sing and decorate it so a new owner can move right in.)
Basically, I stand behind this purchase — there is no doubt in my mind that anyone interested in living centrally in Nice would enjoy every moment in it! But, guess what? The buyer is rejecting the purchase because it’s not the top floor. There is one apartment above it, which was originally a “chambre de bonne,” or servants’ quarters. For me, this isn’t a reason to reject it, but we all have our priorities. In fact, there are many reasons it’s better not to be directly under the roof of a building.
The apartment is one of the nicest I’ve seen for the price in the district — the “Carré d’Or,” Nice’s most expensive district that is bordered by the sea. Properties of this kind are easily 50,000€ more, or more than that. Properties in the area average about 6,500€ per square meter. This one is priced at less than 5,900€ per square meter at 399,000€.
Our other potential buyers would have to find a way to pay cash for the seller to accept their offers. They would have first right of refusal. If you have an inkling to own a great investment property in Nice (a perfect rental property one block from the beach), then this could be your chance to get in while the market is ripe for new buyers. Prices will surely go up once Covid-19 is a thing of the past and we can all breathe freely again.
A la prochaine…
Editor of Parler Nice
(dining al fresco in Nice)
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