News: Why down south is still up top in France

Wed, 14 Nov 07

Investing in France has always been a popular way for Britons to secure a piece of foreign property, with the country second only to Spain...

However,  France is perhaps an even better location into which investors should sink their hard-earned than its Iberian neighbour across the Pyrenees, one expert has stated.

Simon Walker, sales manager for the property portal, Off Plan International, has described France as being an essentially safe option, retaining a reputation of being the most sound and benign of places to invest.

There is one exception to this, he stated: "The only thing that has caused a stir is the French lease back. There have been some bad stories about that, but there have also been some good ones too."

Hassle free

Of course, negative headlines do often exist (some exaggerated and inaccurate of course) about a number of property markets, but the country really is "hassle free" for the most part, Mr Walker states, with the proximity to Britain being a major element of this ease.

Of course, for many, the appeal of living in France is indeed, as finance firm HIFX noted recently, down to the fact that commuting from France to England will be a viable option with the new Eurostar trains. But for Mr Walker the greatest appeal in the country lies in the south.

For all the closeness of the north to Britain, the romance of Paris and the appeal of the winelands, it is the Cote D'Azur and the simple, un-British charms of a warm and sunny climate that tend to draw the most overseas property purchasers: "A lot of the reason why people are attracted to the southern part of France is the weather," Mr Walker stated. "If Brits want to go and live somewhere else they are often attracted to a certain place because of the weather."

A British obsession?

Thus, he noted, "traditional" places such as Nice and St Tropez still have great appeal and will do so as long as night follows warm and largely rainless day. Ironically, Mr Walker added, this is somewhat seasonal. In a trend he described as "bizarre", while summer brings the investors into the Cote D'Azur the Alpine ski resorts take over as the most popular in the winter.

Interestingly, figures from the Notaires de France, recorded in thisfrenchlife.com, found that the most popular place of all to buy property was in fact Creuse, which is right in the middle of the country, attracting a quarter of buyers in the last year.

In contrast, just 0.19 per cent of buyers chose the Rhone region. But perhaps the most telling statistic is that 60 per cent of all foreign buyers come from just one country - ours. Whatever the variations between regions in popularity, buying a place in France remains a particularly British obsession.

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