From its humble origins as a health retreat in the 18th century, the Côte d’Azur has truly become a world-recognized symbol of luxury living. Unsurprisingly, the region is home to some of the world’s most iconic, expensive and architecturally striking homes.
Among them are Villa Leopolda in Villefranche-sur-Mer, which is reportedly worth $500 million; sitting in 10 acres of sweeping grounds, the extravagant mansion was built by King Leopold II of Belgium for his mistress.
For lovers of more contemporary style abodes, there’s the iconic Palais Bulles, a quirky cliffside retreat that once belonged to legendary designer Pierre Cardin.
Other unmissable estates include the flamboyant pink palatial home of Villa Ephrussi de Rothschild, Picasso’s Notre Dame de Vie estate in Mougins and La Pausa, a chic, timeless villa which was owned and designed by Coco Chanel.
For potential real estate owners, the region’s charming historic villages, stunning natural beauty, fabulous climate, and deluxe amenities make for a winning combination. If there was ever a sure real estate investment, it would be the South of France. But how can expats select the best area to buy a home?
We talked to our partner, Michaël Zingraf, an exclusive affiliate of Christie’s International Real Estate for the Provence-Alpes-Côte d’Azur region offering the most prestigious properties on the French Riviera.
According to the expert realtor, there are plenty of superb options that would make an ideal holiday home or investment in this stylish pocket of France. Let’s take a look at five of the most high-end properties on the market right now.
Shaded relaxed retreat overlooking the Mediterranean
Price: on request
With five bedrooms, an envious pool area and spacious terraces surrounded by palm trees, this iconic villa located between Monaco and Menton is renowned for formerly belonging to a handful of Italian fashion designers, who reportedly hosted private shows there for celebrities.
Having been recently renovated, the property certainly exudes star quality. Situated on the waterfront, it’s just a few steps from the beach and offers unrivaled views of the glistening blue water and adjacent mountain. Inside, floor-to-ceiling windows enhance the villa’s spacious feel, complemented by a relaxed design and high-quality finishes.
As for the location, Roquebrune-Cap-Martin is as authentic as it gets. The medieval town has a 10th-century fortified castle offering beautiful sea views, while its brightly colored houses and shaded, winding alleyways abound with charm. With a population of around 13,000 – much smaller than neighboring Monaco or Menton – Roquebrune-Cap-Martin is a more secluded location to purchase real estate and would be perfect for those looking for an ocean retreat.
Traditional Provençal villa with a pool house
This exceptional, capacious property, surrounded by luscious greenery, enjoys some of the best frontal views of the French Riviera, overlooking the coast and the old artisanal village of Mougins.
With seven en-suite bedrooms and two independent apartments for staff, the spacious abode boasts gorgeous reception areas which open up onto the pristine garden, complete with a heated swimming pool and pool house. In total, the mostly flat and entirely landscaped garden is 7,000 square meters.
What makes this villa unique are its thoughtful, impeccable touches. From the imposing circular driveway to the stone columns, monochrome marble floors, and varnished wood units inside, the villa’s design is entirely in keeping with its architectural history and would be well suited to an owner with a penchant for immaculate design.
Imposing waterfront villa with a sauna and bathhouse
Known for being one of the most beautiful resorts on France’s south coast, the resort village of Théoule-sur-Mer is a quaint, secluded spot around 30 minutes south of Cannes by car. With waterfront properties being a rare find here on account of the rugged, clifftop location, this majestic stone house with panoramic sea views is the crème de la crème.
Surrounded by an impressive landscape of dramatic cliff faces and verdant pine forests, the nine-bedroom villa seamlessly blends outdoor and indoor living.
Outside, potential buyers can enjoy 1.2 hectares of fully landscaped gardens, a swimming pool, and pool house, not to mention direct access to the sea.
Inside, towering floor-to-ceiling windows look out onto the sea below. Noteworthy features include a spiral staircase in the lobby and arched windows in the master suite.
Quaint 18th-century-style villa with a tennis court
Price: on request
Located in the private domain of Beauvallon, this newly built villa combines the elegance of 18th-century style with modern amenities, including large terraces, a swimming pool, and a grass tennis court.
The charming estate, which has six bedrooms and bathrooms, was built by world-renowned craftsmen, who have taken pains to bring historical authenticity to the estate. In particular, the doors and parquet floors hail from the era of Louis XV, while the master bathroom is made from onyx marble and stone columns. Wooden paneled walls, French doors, and an elegant winding staircase complete the look indoors, while the manicured gardens create a mansion fit for a king.
The historical port of Grimaud is just a few kilometers down the coast, while the vibrant center of Saint-Tropez can be seen across the water and reached by car in half an hour. In addition to a handful of beautiful beaches, the locale also neighbors a prestigious golf course and offers easy access to authentic French villages nestled in the hillside.
Modern oceanfront villa with a guest house and an infinity pool
Price: on request
An article about luxury mansions on the French Riviera wouldn’t be complete without a listing in Cannes. As the pinnacle of glitz and wealth, the resort town is a classic and timeless spot to purchase a property and offers a certain breed of stylish, upscale living.
For a world-class location, this five-bedroom contemporary villa doesn’t disappoint. Designed by one of Cannes’ most in-vogue architects, the 454 square meter home overlooks the Bay of Cannes and the Estérel.
With an impressive facade, the villa has abundant outdoor space on both levels and a sleek infinity pool. Inside, the property is spacious and makes best use of the plentiful natural light. There’s also an additional apartment, which can be used as a caretaker’s lodge or an independent guest house, as well as a garage with space for two vehicles.
To find out more about these exclusive luxury abodes, contact Michaël Zingraf, Christie’s International Real Estate.