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French property watch: Discover the chic and glamorous Alpes-Maritimes

Between the mountains and the sea, this department with a unique climate has something for everyone

Clockwise (from top left) views of Nice, Antibes, Grasse, Menton Pic: Aleksandar Todorovic; proslgn; Marco Rubino; Boris Stroujko / Shutterstock

Departmental capital: Nice

Main cities/towns: Antibes, Cannes, Grasse, Cagnes-sur-Mer, Le Cannet, Saint-Laurent-du-Var, Menton, Vallauris, Mandelieu-la-Napoule, Vence, Mougins

Due to the microclimate, Alpes-Maritimers (or Maralpins/Maralpines, as they are properly called) can, for a few days in late spring, enjoy a morning’s skiing in the Alps followed by a dip in the warm Mediterranean Sea in the afternoon. 

It is not quite wall-to-wall sunshine in this part of the world but it is not far off with more than 300 days of sun a year. 

This part of south-east France, which borders Italy and the principality of Monaco, has been a hugely popular destination for English-speaking incomers looking for a slice of French life since long before Peter Mayle wrote his bestselling A Year in Provence. And it’s easy to see why. 

The weather is conducive to glorious outdoor living, it scores high on the glamour-o-meter thanks in no small part to celebrity magnet Cannes, and it’s easy to get to, with regular high-speed rail services connecting you to all points in France and Europe, and the well-served airport in Nice.

Sadly, that popularity also means property bargains are more difficult to find than in many other parts of France. 

Such is the draw of the region, which has more than its fair share of seven and even eight-figure properties, that the seaside bounce for properties in coastal resorts means average prices in painfully chic Cannes are €6,613 per m², or ever-popular Menton or Antibes, for example, are well over €5,000 per m².

The average price of a typical house in Nice is €5,378 per m², and charges past €9,000 per m² in Roquebrune-Cap-Martin. Away from the coast, in Grasse for example, a house can be bought for €4,175 per m². 

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