Cote-d'Azur Property Blog: News and Information from the region

MENTON: A sleepy town on the Côte d’Azur …

menton

Menton is full of old buildings, beautifully restored. A good example being the colorful buildings around the Place Ardoino, as well as the Hotel de Ville.

The old town, le Vieux Menton, has an active pedestrian area, with the long Rue St Michel running the length of it and the Rue Piéta joining. Full of shops of all sorts and terrace cafés – although the rest of the town doesn’t really lack for amenities either.

The real heart of le Vieux Menton is the Medieval style buildings grouped around the Eglise St Michel and the Chapel de Pénitents Blancs at the top of the hill. Viewed from the sea front at the east, this area has the appearance of a hilltop perched village. The streets are narrow, with long steep-streets and many very colorful old buildings.

If you get tired of wandering the streets or general sightseeing, there are many things to do in Menton, including museums, gardens, frequent special events (such as the February Lemon Festival), not to mention the seaside and beach activities.

View the wonderful selection of properties Leggett have for sale in Menton

CÔTE D’AZUR – Marseille is a fascinating, thriving city ….

13214Leggett Agent Nicole Cook talks about her move to Marseille …

Marseille is a fascinating, thriving city growing in population, jobs and culture. It’s located on the Mediterranean Sea, and surrounded by mountains. Each district in Marseille offers a different aspect of the city, from quaint fishing villages, to technology centers, to art and theatre districts. There are dozens of beautiful seaside towns that are a short train ride away such as La Ciotat, Cassis, Carry-le-Rouet and Sausset-les-Pins that are truly reflective of the calm and sunny atmosphère of southern France. Just to the north is Aix-en-Provence, a charming and bustling Provencal city. Each town has its own little community with a center for shopping and eating, most have beach access and all feature lovely cherry and olive trees. All of these towns are within 50 kms of Marseille International Airport and the TGV high speed rail network.

About me

I moved to Marseille in early 2014 after living in New York State for most of my life working as a Financial Advisor and a Marketing Director. Marseille was ‘love at first sight’ for me – I enjoy city life, while being minutes from the beach and the mountains, and a short drive to the beautiful Calanques. The shopping districts, music venues, parks and museums ensure I’m always entertained. I especially love going to the street markets that sell locally grown produce, lavender,artisan crafted goods, cheeses, sausages and the famous Marseille soap.

VAR – Gulf de Saint Tropez, the peninsula and its villages …

St-Tropez-view_B

The Gulf de Saint Tropez enjoys a colourful and timeless beauty, it is quite simply a heavenly retreat. Perhaps little known is the fact that 62% of the Var region is wooded, making it the most wooded department of France, with its protected coastline and umbrella pins balancing over crystal clear waters.

Beach1E

Drive from Ramatuelle, a medieval walled village hosting an annual summer jazz festival, along the stretching white sands of Pamplonne home to a number of beach clubs including Plage de l’Escalet, along to Gassin, where you’ll find some of the smallest streets in the world and glorious views over the golf. The Haras de Gassin polo ground is a perfect way to pass a hot summer afternoon and is open to the public. More »

Toulon like Bovril

Some love it, others hate it!

Toulon has not had the best publicity machine – up until a few years ago the Wikipedia entry described it as the second major port for the French navy after Brest and that it was badly bombed by the Allies in the Second World War.  Not encouraging most would say!  Then there was the traffic – heading east to west there is the tunnel under the city for those that are just passing through, but not in the opposite direction.  People arriving from direction Marseille are faced with signs for the motorway to the left and to the right – actually both work and locals are either fans of the central route (to the left) or the port route (to the right).  Anyway, everyone would be forgiven for deciding to give Toulon a miss, but they would be missing out.

To the back of the city is Mont Faron with its cable car route to the top with magnificent views of the city and harbour below.  The winding roads hold a motor rally race for historic cars in the spring and the regional zoo is on the slopes.  To the south-east of the centre is the quarter of Mourillon with some fantastic sandy beaches as well as some seriously high quality restaurants – this area boasts the best nightlife in the area.  It also hosts the “Nuit des Pecheurs” – the local celebration of the fishing heritage. Other more hidden beaches like Magaud are little gems with tight coves and rocky promontories but often stony beaches which doesn’t suit all.

Back into the city itself there is a real mixture of culture from the 18th Haussman designed Boulevard de Strasbourg. alongside the narrow winding streets with 4-5 storey ochre, pink & yellow townhouses as you approach the port which are more reminiscent of the southern side of the Mediterranean.  This is the oldest part of the city including the Cours Lafayette where the daily market is held except Tuesdays.

 

 

 

Napoleon III was instrumental in the development of the modern city of Toulon.  He had built the Port d’Italie in the east as well as the first railway station.  The Opera House is situated in Place Victor Hugo where you can also see high on the walls above the cafe a Banksy-style mural of Marcel Pagnol taking coffee.

Place de la Republique and Place des Armes are both lovely squares with various cafes allowing time to sit and appreciate the view.  Another location from which to sit and take in the view is the port itself with an impressive array of vessels alongside restaurants, cafes and shops.  

To the extreme west of the port is the naval base, but they have relocated the old gatehouse and turned it into a naval museum which is worth a visit.

For those who prefer more modern pastimes, Stade Mayol is the home of RCT Toulon, the rugby club home of Jonny Wilkinson & Stefan Armitage amongst other expats.  It also incorporates the Mayol shopping centre with all the big French & international brands.

So leave the car behind and give it a go, there’s something for everyone in this cosmopolitan city – sea, mountains, historic & modern.  Go Toulon!

 

Golf Course Luxury

Enjoy luxury living on Seve Ballestero’s golf course complex

Sought after location at the foothills of the Luberon for this new 6-bed villa with stunning pool area and gardens.

 

 

 

 

 

New PACA Landing Page

We have just launched our new landing page. Here we have divided up PACA into 12 areas which we think will help you to find your home in the sun!

More »

Visiting Lambesc

Chateau de la Barben

In the pretty village of Lambesc, one finds the Scheduled Monument of Chateau de la Barben.  The property was built before the year 1000 was for many centuries in the ownership of the Ponteves family.  Later it became the home of the Marquis de Forbin and remained so exceptionally for almost 500 years.

 

It is said that Princess Pauline Borghese, the sister of Napoleon, had a number of affairs here.

 

Today it is part museum and part sumptuous chambres d’hotes or bed & breakfast.  You can even get married there!!

 

The gardens in particular are said to be some of the most beautiful in Provence and were designed by Le Notre who worked on the gardens at Versailles.  Designed in the classic French style with regular sections with two entrances, an alley of plane trees, four ponds, two fountains and a series of terraces.

If you visit, it is worthwhile taking in the Zoological Park of La Barben at the same time.

If you like the area then come and talk to Claire about buying a holiday home.

Not just Bordeaux for award-winning wines!

The Valley of the Sauvebonne

The prestigious Concours Général  Agricole Paris each year awards gold, silver and bronze prizes to agricultural produce across the country, but most notably the wine.  Most well-known internationally for its rosé, the Cotes de Provence label has been increasing in popularity.  Now it is winning medals for both red, white & rosé wines as well as highlighting areas that have hitherto been hidden from international gaze.

One of those areas is the plains inland from Hyeres  and La Londe Les Maures through the Valley of the Sauvebonne and around the medieval town of Pierrefeu du Var up to the mountains of the Barre de Cuers.  It now boasts gold medal-winning wines from various houses including Cru Classées rosé and white for Domaines Fabre, rosé for Vignoble Kennel & Domaine Listel and white for Blanc-Sumeire Monique  all at Pierrefeu.  Rosés from Domaine Lolice & Domaine de la Sauveuse at Puget-Ville, Saint-André de Figiuere, Domaine du Carrubier, Vignes Chateau Vert, Rosé Jean-Pierre at La Londe Les Maures, white from Chateau Maravenne and red from Chateau La Tour Saint-Honoré also at La Londe have been honoured in the last two years.  Silver medals are even more numerous.

So why is this area so good for wine-growing?  The first known civilisation here commenced with the Greeks & then the Romans at what is now Hyeres and the Giens Peninsula.  It became quickly apparent that this area benefited from a very clement climate all-year round.  It also benefits from the river Real Martin and Canal de Provence – the run-off from the Alps and the Maures mountains, so adequate water is available in even the hottest of summers.  Today it is well-known for its agricultural produce of all sorts, garden nurseries and cut-flowers as well as the vineyards.

In the heart of the vineyards is the medieval village of Pierrefeu du Var sitting at 240 m above sea level overlooking the plains below.   The name itself comes from « pierres à feux » or « stones of fire » alluding to the quartz & white rocks that are found in the Maures mountains and together reflect the light.  The medieval history is still visible today with the narrow streets in the Chapel St Cross quarter.

The links with the wine industry have been strong throughout history with the famous cork factory dating from 1899 using the natural cork omnipresent in the Maures mountains.  At its height between 1915-1920, it produced 200 million corks per year.  Closed down in 1971, it remains a feature of the village as public rooms.

Cork factory Pierrefeu

History also links the village with the history of love in the 12th Century.  The lords & ladies of Provence came together to create an etiquette or code for love affairs.  This didn’t just encompass the correct way to conduct affairs and the finesse required, but also elements of psychology and the more malicious side of the art.  The château of Pierrefeu keeps records of a few of the ladies involved including Rostangue, Lady of Pierrefeu, Mabille de Fos, Lady of Hyeres & Bertrane, Lady of Signes.

In property terms, Helen Shackleton of Leggett Immobilier indicates that prices are generally more reasonable than the norm.  Bearing in mind that you are only about 20 minutes to the beaches, you can expect to buy at around 2,500-3,500 € psm.  There is a real variety of properties available from a modern architect-designed villa in the town of Pierrefeu itself recently reduced in price to 673.250€ (22363HS83) to a 1920s/30s hunting lodge style property on the banks of the Real Martin (19385HS83) at 897.000€.

You can own your own vineyard with a modern “mas” or farmhouse (P397HS) or a newly built villa in the traditional provencal style in the middle of the vines (21855HS83) – another bargain at 630.000€.

Come & discover this stunning area of Provence that blends the countryside with proximity to the sea, medieval hilltop villages, the Maures mountains & the plains covered in vineyards – or equally just stop by for a glass of rosé!