Nice-ities…and the Ride on the Cte d’Azur
I have come to the Riviera to explore the opportunities Nice may offer up in the way of investment…property of course. Florence Richburg, our staff assistant is along for the Côte d’Azur ride. We’re taking the tour with the idea that eventually I’ll have my own “pied-à-terre” on a “Place” in Old Town with a balcony that will be offered as a vacation rental, just like “Le Provençal,” “Le Saint-Tropez” and “La Brigitte.” “C’est mon rêve.”
To test the waters, I’ve rented an apartment in Old Town with an outstanding view of the old opera house in a very old building that seriously needs attention by its “copropriété.” That aside, the apartment itself is a very cleverly arranged 18 to 20 square meter studio with a sleeping loft and this one exceptionally large window. The apartment has the features one looks for in a good revenue-generating property — great location and good bones with a ‘sexy’ feature or two — the view and light.
Unfortunately, it has two major problems. First, the rental agency doesn’t have a clue how to satisfy an American client and secondly, the owner doesn’t realize that with better decor and if completed with luxury-standard amenities, the rents achieved could be doubled and the occupancy rate increased. I could bore you with the details, but I’ll tell you three things out of the long list Florence and I have been making: there was no bar of soap with which to wash your hands, nor window covering of any kind on that exceptionally large window or even a trash can with which to toss your…whatever.
You can count on my future apartment in Nice to be much ‘nicer.’ In fact, images are already floating in my head to have a charming Niçois one-bedroom apartment with a balcony naturally filled with plants, painted in a colorful patina…like an ochre or teal…named something appropriate like “La Niçoise.” Planting roots in Nice, after such a long love affair with Paris, is like cheating on your husband with another lover. There’s no reason you can’t love them both, even though they might be jealous of each other. And so my love affair with Nice begins, whether I can help it or not.
Our first day in Nice was gorgeously warm and sunny. The very first meal was a “Salade Niçoise” in “Le Quai” on the “Cours Saleya.” It’s different than the same salad served in a Parisian café…it’s REAL. Every ingredient is fresher and more authentic, particularly the little black Niçois olives that are sweet and delicate. It could become a daily ‘fix.’
Within a short time after arrival, we were stumbling on the rocky beach to find a spot to sit and admire the ocean, the city, the views, the weather. Nice’s beach is the one thing that is NOT NICE. Florence has named it “the moon” and took a series of photos of the large stones from their own low level. If Pet Rocks were still hot sellers, they’d have no shortage of supply on the beach at Nice. But a short bus or train ride away are some of the Riviera’s finest sandy beaches, so it’s not necessary for Nice to have EVERYTHING.
Sunday we took the one euro number 100 bus from the “Gare Routière” along the sea coast to Monaco to visit with Joe Wallace, an American living in Beausoleil, a part of Monaco which is technically on the French side. He’s a colleague who has real estate dealings on the Côte d’Azur, and is helping me scout for good properties. He also appeared on House Hunters International (HGTV) in an episode of his own that has aired simultaneously with one of our shows. Small world.
Joe gave us the ‘royal’ tour of the principality bordered on three sides only with France, and being about 16 kilometers away from Italy. Only being two kilometers square and an estimated population of about 33,000, Monaco is the world’s most densely populated sovereign country, and the world’s smallest French-speaking country. It’s also perhaps the wealthiest as it levies no income tax on individuals and is therefore a tax haven for foreigners.
After lunching at the famous “Stars N Bars” restaurant and bar on the port, overlooking some of the largest and most impressive yachts in the world, we headed up to the Prince’s Palace, the official residence of Prince Albert II, accessible only by foot and the parking lot below. The stunning gardens overlooking the sea and the tiny village is pristine except for the tourist shops and the cathedral housing the crypts of Lords and Princes of Monaco including our own American-Monagasque, Princess Grace (Kelly).
Below after a short shuttle bus ride down, we ventured over to the casino in Monte Carlo where the car show in front will make any car aficionado swoon — Ferraris, Lamborghinis, Bentleys and Aston Martins, among them. Next door is the Hôtel de Paris which houses Alain Ducasse’s, Le Louis XV, a restaurant that manages to continuously keep its three Michelin stars.
Training back to “Nice Ville” was simple from Monaco and taking the tram connecting us to Old Town was also fast, simple and inexpensive. The Cours Saleya was bustling with Sunday night feasters, where we indulged on a “Plateau de Fruits de Mer” and another “Salade Niçoise.”
Today we have a long list of properties to visit in Old Nice with the hopes we’ll find one or two that will make perfect vacation apartments for year-round rental by Americans and other English-speaking visitors. I’m hooked on Old Nice and its narrow winding streets of old Italianesque architecture, open-air markets, wall-to-wall cafés, restaurants, gift shops and other independent merchants enjoying the sun and the sea and the Franco-Italia culture.
They were right. Nice is Nice.
Editor, Parler Paris
P.S. Wednesday I’ll be reporting on my findings, so stay tuned…but to all of you who may have fallen in love with the Riviera as I have, perhaps you would like to take the “Côte d’Azur ride” along with me!
If you have any interest in purchasing a “pied-à-terre” in Nice or environs that you can enjoy yourself while renting it out to visitors when you’re not there, taking advantage of the revenues and the sure-to-appreciate investment…all while knowing someone you trust can manage it…write me. I may just have the perfect little home away from home for you at the end of today!
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