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Slightly rural but close to airport: Property for sale in Cagnes sur Mer taken in October with grape vines, grapefruit trees, fig tree, hazelnut tree and apple trees in large grounds. With ten minute walk to the beach. All for below 1m euros.

A few of our clients ask when is best to come and visit us, but until last week I’d never been asked whether a client should put off his viewing trips until the new year now we’re in October. A bit perplexed, I asked why. “Well, because of the lack of light, the cold – I mean, and is it dead? Are the agents still working in Winter?” was the reply. Now I was just confused.

Digging a little deeper, I found out in November last year, our poor client, his wife and two small children did a two week property search in Normandy and the year before headed into deep Provence and had also done some searches in the Dordogne. The result: viewings of only one property a day, sometimes arriving in the dark, long drives with car-sick bored children and properties they really wanted to see, but keys were with awol agents. Except for stinking colds, and needing another holiday, they’d come home empty handed. Well, almost empty handed, because perhaps they’d learnt something very valuable. “I realised“, he told me, ” that if on these two trips I was spending this much time in a car, that it’s little different from my commute at home and hardly a break. We’re still at the initial stages, but we’ve done some research and even though we like the country, we’d much rather up our budget a bit, fly to Nice and buy just outside where we think we can get something a bit less city if we go just outside Nice. We’ll have the sort of rural we’re after, but we’ll get to our place quicker, but if we decide to rent it out, so will our guests“. Hence the call to us.

I was quickly able to reassure him that buying in the Cote d’Azur was indeed a great choice. That places like Cagnes Sue Mer, La Colle, Vence, Biot can have a little bit of Provence but still near enough for all transport links.  There’s light and sunshine almost all year round, and yes, many thousands of guests a year want to come and take up offers from owners offering good accommodation, and not just in summer, but all year round.

Of course, there are far fewer tourists visiting the Cote d’Azur in autumn and winter, yet as the history of the Promenade des Anglais demonstrates, its been the English gentry’s winter destination of choice for hundreds of years.

Coming in Winter for property viewings is also sensible. Agencies are not taking August holidays. The climate is more clement for stomping from one viewing to another.  Outside of Nice, where we’d go by car to each viewing, we can usually do three or four a day. If clients are interested in central Nice and are up for it, we can often manage six or seven a day.  A much harder feat in July and August than November or December.

Accommodation is less booked up, so better choice and cheaper rates. Flights are usually cheaper for the same reasons, especially with the low-cost carriers.

Best of all, come in winter and you still might get to sit on the beach, or go home with a suntan. It might just not be that cold. Over here we only get our winter coats on for about eight weeks of the year, the rest of the time, a light jacket and scarf will often suffice. It’s not unknown to be wearing a T shirt in January, or popping down to the Med for a dip.

Apartment or house hunting from mid-November can also be quiet special once the Christmas markets are in flow in most towns.  We’ll happily treat you to a chocolat chaud or vin chaud after a long day of property viewings to discuss contenders, which we think will be many. If you found an apartment light and airy in Winter, just imagine how you’ll feel about that dappled light bouncing off those parquet floors in Spring.

Gayle Roberts


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