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South of France - Fact File

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FRANCE: Provence, including the Côte d’Azur - Factfile

Situated in the south-east of France, Provence’s coastline stretches from Bandol to Menton, on the Italian border. The region, covering an area of approximately 30,000 sq km, contains five ‘departements’ [counties] – Bouches-du-Rhone, Vaucluse, Alpes de Haute-Provence, Var and Alpes-Maritimes - and has a population of some 4,275,000  people. The region has some 300 days of sun per year.

Considering purchasing a Property?   Costs involved in purchasing property include expenses due to the public notary [invoices settled by the public notary on behalf of the purchaser], transfer tax [taxe de mutation]equal to approx 5% of the selling price, property registration, stamp duty, and VAT on a new construction. Costs amount to between 8% and 10% of the selling price. In addition, an annual amount of property tax, called Taxe d’Habitation , similar to ‘rates’ in the UK, is payable each year on January 1. There are exemptions for people over 60 years

Swimming pools and safety measures. If you’re thinking about purchasing a property that has a swimming pool, you should be aware of the new French law concerning safety measures. Not only must all children be supervised by an adult when at a [private] swimming pool, but every pool must either have fencing around it or have an alarm system. In each case, the system must be approved by the appropriate French authorities. The local Mairie [town hall] will have details.

Setting up a business in the south of France? The Chamber of Commerce and Industry of Nice has established a specific department, La Maison des Enterprises [Companies Association] to help companies in setting-up an organisation on the Riviera.

The British Chamber of Commerce Cote d'Azur is well worth contacting and their website is BCC Cote d'Azur

Wine  With the exception of the superb red wines from Chateauneuf-du-Pape, Provence has not traditionally been noted for its great wines. only recently gained its status for fine wines. Formerly it had carved itself a reputation for agreeable wines and in particular for its rosé. But, more recently, an increasing number of wine growers are making first-rate products to challenge those from Burgundy and Bordeaux. Particularly good are the reds and rosés from the Bandol area, located between Marseille and Toulon.

Golf   There are many first-rate golf courses in the region. Here is a selection: The Monte Carlo [33 (0)4 93415070] boasts some wonderful holes and has dazzling views; Golfe de Sainte Maxime [33 (0) 4 944926], with magnificent views over the bay towards St Tropez; Esterel [33 (0)4 94 825500] designed by Robert Trent Jones; the challenging Saint Endreol [33 (0)4 94992299]; the longest established golf course in the south of France, the Cannes Mandelieu Old Course [33(0)4 92973200]; The Riviera Golf Club [33 (0)4 92974949]close to Mandelieu, where accuracy is of the essence; the pricey and dramatic Royal Mougins [33 (0)4 92924969]; the pleasurable Saint Donat [33 (0)4 93097660], also designed by Robert Trent Jones;  Cannes Mougins [33 (0)493757913] is an satisfying and fairly demanding course; Close to Grasse at 600 metres is Claux-Amic [33 (0)4 93605544], which offers fine views and excellent golf. The Gary Player designed Taulane [33 (0)4 93603130] is considered by some to be the greatest course in the south of France. 

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Boules   Especially popular in Provence, boules is played throughout the year. Most villages throughout the region boast at least one ‘piste de boules‘. Although many of the players are in their 60s and 70s plus, the game is attracting an increasing number of  young players. Pastis, Marseille’s most famous drink, is synonymous with the game as the après-match drink but chilled rosé is as popular.

Museums and Galleries  For art lovers, Provence is also a delight. Those who have left some of their treasures from their lives in this region include leading lights of the Impressionist movement, Paul Cézanne and Pierre Auguste Renoir, Henri Matisse, cubist Fermand Léger, Marc Chagall and Pablo Picasso. The tourist office in each town supplies full information on what’s on, where and when but here is a small selection to consider:  Musée Picasso in Antibes; Musée National Fernand Léger in Biot, Musée Fragonard in Grasse, Musée Matisse in Nice, the Fondation Maeght in Saint Paul de Vence and the Musée d’Art Moderne et d’Art Contemporain also in Nice.

What’s On   Additional to the plethora of museums, many of which have constantly changing exhibitions, there are a multitude of events throughout the year. For those with eclectic tastes, time will be the only limiter to around the clock entertainment. January has The Monte Carlo Rally, February the Mardi Gras Carnival in Nice, March the International Flower Festival in Cagnes-sur-Mer, April the Féria Pascale in Arles to celebrate the beginning of the bullfighting season, May the Cannes Film Festival, the Monte Carlo Tennis Masters and the F1 Monaco Grand Prix, June the Son-et-Lumière in Fontaine-de-Vaucluse, Juan les Pins and Nice devote much of July to their celebrated Jazz Festivals, August the Fete du Jasmin in Grasse and sparkling firework displays all over, September the Montgolfiades Internationales in Haute Provence for balloonists, October the Foire international de Marseille with music, folklore, arts and crafts, Monaco celebrates its National Day with spectacular firework displays in November, and the Fete du Vin in Bandol in December. And those mentioned are but a fraction of this feast of events throughout the year.


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Cautious optimism for the French Riviera

As there is now increasing competition from the resorts in Eastern Europe and the growing influence of low cost airlines, the French Riviera is now struggling to maintain market share in the tourism industry. The strong Euro had not helped and Eastern Europe has more availability and is less expensive.

Tourism industry experts are a little more optimistic after the 2005 season. In Nice for example there was a 4 per cent increase in hotel guests in July compared to the same time in 2004 according to the Syndicat des hôteliers Nice Côte d'Azur. They indicated that the hotel occupancy in Nice was at around 70/75 per cent in 4 star and deluxe hotels and 80/85 per cent in other categories.

Click on image for self catering in the south of France

There are several factors contributing to the upward trend. There are now low cost routes into Nice from Bratislava and Budapest and the Euro is not quite as strong as it had been. The region has been using the Internet more for promoting travel packages with the annual events like jazz festivals and there has been a change in which hotels have adapted to the needs of their customer base.

The main visitors to the region are principally foreign tourists from Britain, Belgium and Germany and more Americans are returning to France. Nice Côte d'Azur airport has reported a 6 per cent increase in passenger traffic. There is also a booming cruise liner market with Monaco and Cannes reporting a 55 percent cent rise in passengers. They still have a long way to go before they regain their previous dominance and the job now is to keep people interested.

New directives reveal that the future of regional tourism is believed to be concentrated on two main markets. Leisure - affiliated with events, special interest tours and cultural highlights. events. The other is Business tourism - Conferences. September 2005

To find your ideal French Holiday Home, enter our partner site jmlvillas.com 

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At a Glance Guide to Nice - Destination France - Spring 2010 More Information Here

See Cannes Film Festival

See Also Biot, near Antibes, Cannes Nice, South of France

See Historic Monaco Grand Prix - Grand Prix de Monaco Historique


See Also Biot, near Antibes, Cannes Nice, South of France

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Guides of Driving in Europe


There is an excellent selection of Self catering holiday rentals for the the South Of France at

Looking for a hotel in the South of France ? - Use the search facility below


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