Villas in France: an introduction

Every August the South of France has a reputation for filling up as the rest of France arrives.  But that reputation, while occasionally justified, is overdone. With a little homework, even in August and at this late stage it is still possible to find your own place in a villa with a pool in the sun far from the crowds. Think peace and calm and  slow living.

A quick geographical tour of some of the areas of interest:

The Cote d’Azur: is the area stretching West as far as Menton. The scenery is beautiful. It is here that the foothills of the Alps fall off at the coast. This dramatic combination of scenery and sea views is one of the things that makes the area so famous. Villas that are a little way inland are generally the best value for money in the area: you will find some very comfortable holiday villas
for about half of what one pays closer to the coast. For most people, this area has the ideal combination of pretty villages and easy driving distance to the sea when one is so inclined. Villas in the area are in the areas around Valbonne, Opio and Tourrettes-sur-Loup. A little further West, in the areas around Grasse are the villas with the most spectacular views in the South of France.

The stretch to the East of Nice that includes Monaco, Cap Ferrat and going as far as the Italian border is the home of serious money. One of the reasons for this is of course the beauty of the scenery and the quality of the building. Rents for villa holidays are similarly breathtaking, either impressive or wasteful depending on how you see the world.

The Var is a very popular spot for vacations in the area around the Gulf of St Tropez. St Tropez proper is a stylish suntrap which came to prominence in the 50s when Brigitte Bardot and others graced the then undeveloped sands.  The development of the town has come on some way since then and it is packed in the summer, but it retains a certain exclusivity: celebrity spotting is not hard in St Tropez. The French love it for its more relaxed pace of life.

Villa holidays in St Tropez proper are not cheap, but as you get further inland so the scenery improves with spectacular views over the Gulf of St Tropez, and the villa rents go down. Around the Gulf at Beauvallon are a number of charming villas for about one third of what one pays a few kilometres closer to the so-called ‘action’. There are also a some attractive and realistically priced villas near the charming village of Grimaud. The style of villas in the St Tropez area is dictated by local government, and must be in a Provencal style. Further West, towards Grasse, a more modern style of villa can be found alongside the traditional Mas Provencal.

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