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Guide to Provence-Alpes-Cote d Azur, France

Perhaps the most famous and romantic region of all of France, widely accepted as the most beautify of all the French regions, this area was attracting holiday home owners and the rich and famous long before buying a French holiday home was considered in almost all other areas. Synonymous with the rich and famous, property prices in this region are more expensive than anywhere other than Paris itself. The actual price of many holiday homes is now out of the reach of many people and a search on the internet will quickly reveal that you get less for your money in this region, but then location is always an important factor in house prices. In recent years, the tendency has been for new build flats and apartments which always seem to go for premium prices, that said if you look around, especially inland, you can often find an older style property and a more reasonable price. If you do splash out and buy a holiday home, renting it shouldn’t pose too much of a problem nearly 2 million Britons travel to this area on holiday each year thus there is plenty of scope for holiday cottage rental if you want to try to recoup some of your outlay.

People come to the South of France for a multitude of reason, it has so much to offer in all forms of indoor and outdoor pursuits and your pretty much guaranteed good weather during the summer months If you do come here on holiday, you are unlikely to experience peace and quiet especially in the fashionable resorts, these chic coast resorts are a magnet during the hot summer months and congestion and traffic jams are regular occurrences.

Provence-Alpes-Cote d Azur is a region of intense light, warmth & beauty, a feast for all of the senses, as mentioned above, it is widely regarded as the most beautiful region of all of France, you can spend long lazy days in the sun surrounded by fragrant fields of lavender, citrus fruits olive grove and vineyards, the inspiration for countless artists and writers over the centuries, a trip to this region never disappoints.

Dipping it’s toes in to the Mediterranean sea to the south, touching the Rhone in the west and bounded by the breath taking alps in the north and east this are is famed for it’s climate and fashionable coastal resorts such as St Tropez. There is also a plethora of sleepy hill top villages linking fragrant fields of vegetation. in recent years there has been a fair amount of flooding in the region and before you purchase a holiday home it is a good idea to look in to whether your chosen area was effected or not. If you do purchase a property, make sure that you are able to purchase adequate flood insurance as in some cases, damages were rather extensive.

The capital of the region is Marseille, this is Frances third largest city with a population around the one million mark, it is also Frances largest Mediterranean port with substantial volumes of traffic each year. Much of the region is wild and field sports are quite popular

The Cote d Azur, is without doubt the sunniest region in all of France and for many this is enough of a reason to want to settle in this region, especially popular are the towns of Nice, Cannes, & Antibes. it is blessed with it’s own microclimate and enjoys over 3000 hours of sunshine each year. The summers can sometimes be almost unbearably hot and winters are mainly mild. Some years it is possible to eat Christmas dinner outside, an unthinkable event in the United Kingdom. Recent years have seen the region fall victim to severe flood damage and it’s fair to say that when it rains, it really rains. Another climatic feature of the region is the Mistral, a wind that can reach 100km per hour, you cannot fail to spot it as it has a rather eerie sound, make sure you have adequate French property insurance protection as it is known to cause extensive property damage.

As if if wind and floods were not enough natural phenomenon to contend with, this part of France is also an earthquake zone and in recent years there have been a number of minor tremors. Scientists are predicting that there will be a large earthquake within the next 200 years and as a result of this, new apartment blocks have started to become subject to much tighter planning controls. If you accept French property insurance and have a home in this area, make sure your policy is extended to include earthquake cover.

As mentioned above, this part of France is the most popular choice for Brits wanting to move to to France, it has been established a place for foreign investment for many years and thus the facilities available for English speaking people and easily above anything that can be found elsewhere. Brits started to visit this region of France over two hundred years ago and coined the phrase’ Riviera” in the early days they were responsible for much of the hotel & infrastructure as demand for accommodation steadily increased. The Promenade des Anglais on the seafront at Nice is world famous and is a fashionable place to be seen. As well as the English, the Italians, Germans & Scandinavians all love this area and there are a large number of estate agents offering what many consider to be too few, over priced properties. Cannes and the independent principality of Monaco are immensely popular and the Monaco Grand Prix for some is the highlight of the formula one race calendar.

This region is the second most important to the French economy;

Digne is the capital town of the department of Alpes de haute provence and is well known for it’s preserved fruits and confectionary. the air in this area is somewhat arid and the terrain mountainous, it mainly relies on tourism with a little farming. Being a little further inland, it is a little cooler than the coastal areas and if you want to move to the south of France but perhaps want to be away from the hustle and bustle of the tourist regions then this might be the area for you, in fact because of the somewhat mountainous terrain if you are are going to find a cheap holiday home then this is the part of the region where you will find it.

Hautes Alpes is even less populated than Alpes de haute Provence due to it’s mountainous surroundings, lack of any real industry or agriculture. During the summer months you can spot goats grazing on the mountain sides and during the winter months the skiers return to resorts such as Devoluy. In order to make additional income many of these winter ski resorts are now offering summer activities such as hiking and horse riding. This is a wonderfully quiet corner of France, worth a visit is the old fortified town of Briancon- one of Europe’s highest towns which can be found here, perched high on a dramatic rocky landscape with appealing restaurants below it. The department’s capital city of Gap is where the bulk of the Haut-Alpes residents preside.

Alpes Maritimes is located in the eastern tip of the region and is undoubtedly where you will find the most expensive house prices and some of the worlds premier upmarket locations. Nice has been popular for many years whilst the film festival at Cannes is always popular and well attended. This part is considered to be the playground of France, people come here from the world over to relax and have a good time. Local industries include flower production, perfume making, olive oil production but none of these can reach anywhere near the most important industry of all tourism.

Bouches du rhone is a maritime department which has a 120 mile coastline with the Mediterranean

Bouches du Rhone is a maritime department i bounded in the north by Varcluse by Var in the East, by Gard in the west, and by the Mediterranean in the south, it’s seaboard stretches for about 120 miles. a densely populated region of in excess 1,800,000 inhabitants. ouches du Rhone contains the regions capital Marseille. Marseille, has a lengthy history usually associated with any port city, it’s worth a visit an is not too touristy. Louis XIV built two forts on either side of the harbour. and as he did not trust the local inhabitants, the guns face the town rather than the sea. As it turned out Marseille strongly supported the Revolution and it’s local soldiers sang a song on the march to Paris that later became know as La Marseillaise which today is still the French national anthem. Marseille has a diverse ethnicity, and a lively African feel, it’s street markets are a must if you visit this town.

Also popular in the department is Camargue an area of 350,000 acres of wetland which is famous for is diversified wildlife.

Var is the most southerly department and it has a rather dramatic coastline much loved by film directors that runs between Cannes and La Ciotat near Marseille. Var is known as the gateway to the Cote d Azur and has become quite popular with British holiday home purchasers. It has a pleasant countryside with a vast array of colourful flowers and some dense pine forests. Var has hit the news in recent years for suffering some ferocious fires. Wine production is in evidence as in Honey making. Driving through the department you will be able to witness many medieval settlements that seem to cling to rock faces. Although the capital of Var is Toulon, perhaps the famous famous town is St Tropez which sits at the tip of the peninsula between Nice & Toulon. St Tropez is well frequented by the jet set and you will be amazed by the size of some of the yachts in the port. The town itself is very beautiful with some lovely architectural and a wonderful relaxed atmosphere.

Vaucluse is the final department in the region and it’s terrain is quite mountainous with Mont Ventoux being the highest part of the region, this dominating feature looks down on a fertile plain, arguably the most fertile in all of France where some splendid fruits and vegetables are grown

Avignon is the administrative capital and the most important town in the region, known as the city of the popes, Avignon is famous for the Palais des Papes, a Unesco world heritage site and the largest gothic palace in Europe. The Palais des Papes ( the palace of the popes) was built in the 14th century when the pope’s court was transferred from Rome during the “Great Schism”. The city’s old town is a maze of narrow streets fully of lively cafes restaurants and street vendors. Culturally, Avignon is the capital of the French theatre, now famous with it’s Festival d’Avigon.

Reaching your holiday home in the south of France could not be easier although for short stays driving is pretty much out of the question. There are many budget airline flights available to Marseille, Toulon and Nice. If you are prepared to book them in good time, the airfares are unbelievably cheap.

Guide to Provence-Alpes-Cote d Azur, France Departments.

04 Alpes de Haute Provence

05 Hautes Alpes

06 Alpes Maritimes

13 Bouches du Rhone

83 Var

84 Vaucluse

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