My senior researcher, Margaret Summerfield, is on the move again...
To remind you, over the past six months Margaret has been slow traveling through Europe in search of a new base. Starting in Faro, Portugal, she made her way west along the Algarve, then north to Cascais, outside Lisbon and from there to Cannes and Antibes on the French Riviera.
On each step of her journey, she has reported back to us about what she's found: her assessment of each real estate market, the livability of each destination, and why she would or wouldn't consider it for a permanent base.
Today, she gives her final assessment of the two titans of the Côte d'Azur: Cannes and Antibes.
Stay tuned for her next report...
Let the Contest Begin!
By Margaret Summerfield
Today, I'm going to compare two places on the French Riviera: Cannes and Antibes.
They're both established jet-set destinations. They both have similar populations (70,000 or so) and similar climates (hot, dry summers and mild winters). The language is the same, the currency is the same. But scratch the surface and you'll soon see that they're very distinct, each with its own style and appeal.
Here's my take on these two Riviera getaways.
Both towns have good road and rail connections. Antibes just nudges ahead for airport access because it's 20 minutes' drive to Nice airport, while Cannes is 30. Nice is the third-busiest airport in France and has excellent connections across Europe. As an established tourist destination, the Cote d'Azur is easy to get to. For Europeans, it's like flying from New York to Florida.
Both destinations also offer easy access to ski resorts and mountain hiking close by, so you can enjoy the best of beach and mountain living.
This category is very much a draw.
When I arrived in Cannes, I was impressed by the views. There are lovely sea views, with the Alps rising in the distance, the peaks covered in snow. But when I got to Antibes, the views were better. Wider sea vistas, the Alps seemingly closer, and the city of Nice in the distance.
Up close, Antibes wins again. It has a nicely preserved Old Town, ancient city walls, a marina, some small beaches, nice walking trails, and a Picasso museum (sadly closed during my stay). It's a short walk to the neighboring town of Juan Les Pins, with its sandy beaches and pine trees. Antibes is the perfect mix for visiting vacationers of history and beach.
Cannes, although it boasts two marinas, beaches, and a seashore promenade, feels more modern and less unique. Its historic district, Le Suquet, has a couple of gentrified streets, but it's more like a tourist haunt than a genuine living neighborhood.
I'm giving this one to Antibes.
Cannes is the epitome of bling and glamour. If you want to buy designer clothes or expensive jewelry...or simply shop for mid-market brands...this is the place for you. It's also a good spot for fine dining and nightlife. With superyachts crammed into the marinas, supercars growling along the promenade, and helicopters buzzing overhead, it lives up to its jet set reputation. And, of course, the town adds movie star madness during its annual film festival. Cannes is a town to see and be seen.
I'd describe Antibes as Cannes' slightly disheveled but more charming sibling. Antibes is more artsy, more bohemian, scruffier round the edges. There are quirky stores but you certainly wouldn't come here just for the shopping. Instead, you'd come to walk the ancient city walls, snap yourself next to the Nomade sculpture, visit the Musée Picasso in the Château Grimaldi (a castle built on the foundations of the Greek city of Antipolis), and explore the star-shaped Fort Carré's vantage point over the town.
On the style front, I'm declaring Antibes the winner. But that's because I'm just not chic enough for Cannes! (My on-trend, fashion-obsessed sister would vote for Cannes every time.)
Prices are similar in both locations—and the French Riviera is certainly not cheap. Let's look at what's on the market right now in Antibes and Cannes.
Below €200,000, there isn't much other than tiny studios. For €175,000, you can buy a studio in Old Town, close to Port Vauban, shopping, and beaches. It's only 258 square feet but the seller says it delivers good rental returns. In Cannes, for €170,000, you can buy a studio (with 183 square feet) in a beautiful historic building on Croisette—but it needs a complete renovation.
Stretch to €400,000, and you get more choice.
In Antibes, you can buy a two-bed apartment with an open-plan kitchen and sea views from one of two terraces. The complex has a swimming pool and landscaped grounds. It's listed at €354,000. There's also a two-bed apartment with a west-facing garden space for €335,000. For sale at €380,000, there's a just-renovated, two-bed apartment in a historic building, with a new kitchen, bathroom, and flooring.
In Cannes, there's a spacious two-bed apartment listed at €380,000. It's got a terrace and garden space and is less than a 10-minute walk to the Old Port and Forville Market. For €350,000, you could get a two-bed apartment in a classic historic building, in need of a remodel, but in a good location. There's a two-bed apartment in a central location listed at €325,000 with balconies off the living room and bedrooms and marble floors in the living area.
The real estate category is a tie. There's a good choice of properties in both markets, at the same price level for similar product.
Overall, I'm declaring Antibes the winner. But it's down to personal taste, rather than any innate or distinct advantage it has over Cannes. You might prefer the upscale liveliness of Cannes...the ritzy Boulevard Croisette...the busy annual calendar of festivals and events. Each to his own!
Your Comments and Questions
Jenny says: Have you ever considered establishing a consortium for those who do not want to invest large amounts or cannot do so? Sharing cost and profits with a like-minded community would be a great motivator for many! And they can use the property on a timeshare setup basis, only better, as they will be buying the property not just "renting" time at it!
Ronan says: Hi Jenny. That's an interesting idea. I'm aware that not every subscriber is the position to take part in every RETA deal and that's why I try to include as many price points as possible. It's also the reason why I've started adding the Daily Dream Home section to end of these e-letters. These aren't what I'd classify as investment-grade properties. You can't expect to see profit from them. But they do offer incredible bang-for-your-buck, and many of them are within even a very modest budget—especially if you were to consider bank financing.
Timeshares, however, isn't something I'm planning to bring to subscribers. Frankly, I don't see them as worthwhile investments. They typically lose value in the secondary market. And, of course, if the owners are each spending time in the property, that doesn't leave much vacancy time for generating rental income.
Your Daily Dream HomeSkopelos, Greece€105,000 ($127,839)
If you're looking to escape to a Greek island, then this is the one for you. Skopelos is famous as one of the locations for the movie Mama Mia! This one-bed, one-bath apartment is located in the grounds of a luxury hotel, just 500 metres from the beach and about the same distance from Skopelos town. There's also an open-plan kitchen, living/dining area. You'll have access to the shared pool and landscaped gardens.
Remember, we don't make money from any listing shared here in the Your Daily Dream Home section. We have no dog in the fight. We're just sharing cool properties we've found.
I haven't visited this property or done due diligence on it. If you're interested in the listing, you should hire an attorney and do your own due diligence.