News: Only french fools rush in...

Tue, 15 May 07

Those looking to invest in France should take their time over decisions and not buy after "falling in love" with a location, author Peter Mayle has advised...

He should know. Peter Mayle has lived in the south of France for 20 years, bar a short spell in America, writing two books on life in the region, the first of which, A Year in Provence, became a bestseller and the second, A Good Year, was adapted to become a film starring Hollywood legend Russell Crowe.

The first thing to do, Peter says is make a considered assessment over time, rather than buying on a whim, advice that may be just as valuable for those buying to let as those buying for themselves.

Speaking to the Independent, he advises: "See what you think of France in winter before you plunge in. Fall in love in the summer, but come back and solidify the romance in winter. Property may be cheaper then - if a house has been hanging around and hasn't sold in summer, it's likely the seller will cut the price."

Head further afield for bargains

There are other tips he gives for those who plan to be discerning and look for bargains. One is of significance for those in the buy-to-let markets: "If you want easy access to airports, cities, towns and restaurants then you have to be around Marseille or Aix or Avignon - and prices reflect that.

But if you go to Haute Provence, 50 miles away, you get the same weather, scenery and lovely houses at a fraction of the price."

On this basis, those concerned with fly-to-let and renting out properties to holidaymakers keen to be near airports and the sea should still look at the popular locations, costlier though they may be.

For those looking to tap into the market of people looking for a quiet corner of the country and different attractions, there are places like Banon which, Peter Mayle states, produces the best goats' cheese in France.

Variety is the spice of life

Any assessment of Provence has to include a wide list of attractions. Luberon, where Peter Mayle lives, is an area of hills, old stone buildings and the occasional chateau. Marseille provides the vibrancy of a multicultural melting pot.

St Tropez and other Cote D'Azur locations are popular sea resorts, the interior has a wealth of vineyards with Rose as a speciality and the eastern fringes bump up against the Alpine foothills.

This combination spells variety, with the Mediterranean climate being the one common denominator.

Otherwise, as Peter Mayle states, the best decision about where to buy and what buy-to-let investors should choose is one taken after careful consideration.

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