The Carré d’Or, or “Golden Square”, is prime Nice real estate. It is full of chic bars and designer stores, and nowhere is more than 5 minutes walk to the beach. One of the most rentable areas in Nice, it is a favourite with investors and those seeking a pied-a-terre.
The Carre d’Or has long been the property hot-spot of Nice. It contains the most prestigious boutiques; on Rue Paradis you can find designer labels such as Louis Vuitton and Chanel. A few minutes walk will take you to the beach, to the Old Town, the main shopping streets, and for the more adventurous the train station.
It is bounded by Boulevard Victor Hugo to the north, the Promenade des Anglais to the south, Avenue Jean Medecin and Place Massena to the east, and Boulevard Gambetta to the west.
Rue Massena, nicknamed the Zone Pietonne, is the most desirable road. Properties looking down onto the pedestrianised street make particularly good rental properties. The street is lined with restaurants, cafes and boutiques. In the centre is Place Magenta, which often has street performers playing live music. It runs from Place Massena until it turns into Rue de France. This still desirable street continues until Boulevard Gambetta.
Further back in parallel, the main arteries running through the Carre d’Or are Rue Marechal Joffre and Rue de la Buffa. They are also the principle bus routes, making them noisier that the other roads. The roads running north-south are generally smaller and quieter.
There are usually plenty of properties for sale here, affordable and with a good rental yield. For a one bedroom with a balcony expect to pay €250,000-€280,000. A studio usually starts around €160,000. A good size two bedroom with a terrace will be around €450,000.
This is the most prestigious of residential roads, sought after by well-heeled doctors and lawyers. The leafy boulevard is flanked by a mix of architecture, from Victorian-era palaces all the way up to new builds recently completed. A great place to buy at the right price, more often than not the premium paid for a posh postcode does not make sense for a holiday home. With prices hovering around €8,000/sqm, you can get around one third off the price just by turned a corner.
If a French estate agent tells you that an apartment on that road is in a “building of standing”, this generally means it was build during or either side of the 1980s. With a very square construction, perspex terrace front, and white marble flooring through-out, it is seen as desirable by locals. However foreign buyers, and renters, usually regard the building as “without any soul” and generally avoid purchasing there.
Place Massena is the hyper centre. No matter which direction you take, prices start going down. It connects the old town to the shopping to the city gardens to the Zone Pietonne. No matter which east-west road you choose, from the prestigious Promenade des Anglais to the lesser known such as rue Gioffredo or Pastorelli, the “Place Massena end” is the best end.
Of course prices reflect this, with apartments overlooking the square reaching up to €12,000/sqm. However there are plenty of reasonably priced apartments within five minutes walk in each direction.
The main boulevard heading up from Place Massena, avenue Jean Medecin, is the “Oxford Street” of Nice. All the high street stores such as Zara, Mango, etc are here as well as the main shopping centre Nice Etoile. The tramway has nearly eliminated traffic, and the newly widened pavements make it the most impressive shopping boulevard of Nice.
When buying property, the cut-off point to the north is Nice Etoile. On the east side it is best to stay or or south of Boulevard Dubouchage, on the west south of rue Paul Deroulede. Avoid roads that have a country in the name, though we are a little on the fence with rue de Russie which is border-line acceptable.
There are a number of apartments for sale in Nice Etoile itself. These may seem remarkably good value for money, and the reason for this is that they are the only leasehold apartments for sale in Nice. As well as having leasehold in a country not used to it seriously impacting resale value, monthly charges are high. Many other sites advertise apartments there as having a terrace, which is false. There are none.
Boulevard Gambetta is the other main north-south boulevard, and delineates the western side of the Carre d’Or and the Musicians Quarter. The main drawback to this road is noise. The positives are proximity to the beach and often a lateral sea view. Many of the buildings are Nicois and Art Deco, and have a small balcony enough to fit a small table and a couple of chairs.
Closer to the beach is better, and definitely stay below Avenue Thiers. Anywhere to the east of the boulevard is good, the south end for rental and further north for a quieter holiday home. On the west side do not go more than two blocks in and stay below Place Franklin.
If noise is a serious issue then avoid Gambetta, unless facing “courtyard side”, but otherwise many pleasant surprises are to be found here.