Nice’s Old Town, or Vieux Nice, is the historic heart of Nice dating back to the 16th century. The colourful narrow winding streets are full of galleries, markets, and boutiques selling everything from clothes to local produce. As evening falls the cafes, bars and restaurants are abuzz with people enjoying themselves or simply watching the world walk by. It is little wonder that this area is the hottest rental spot.

Cycling past a church in Nice, FranceShopping at one of the evening markets on the Course Saleya in Nice

When buying in the Old Town, you are buying into a piece of history. It is blessed with beautiful surroundings, it is the centre of all the cultural and gastronomic life, and it lies perfectly between the beach and the city centre. On holiday you will be spending most of your evenings there, if not afternoons as well. All this helps property buyers and holiday makers forgive its three major flaws: no lift, narrow streets can mean poor light, and no balcony.

The first two drawbacks are linked: the higher the floor the brighter the apartment, but the more stairs you have to climb to get there. This is true on a number of the principal roads, such as Rue Droite or Rue Benoit Bunico, but with plenty of piazzas and some wider boulevards it is not a hard and fast rule. In general up to the fourth floor is acceptable, but stair-wells vary. We have apartments where you can reach the fourth floor without breaking a sweat, others where you feel you should get an Olympic medal for reaching the second. The best method is to try and find your own personal level of acceptable.

You never know what is behind the front door of a building until you open it. It may be a humble entrance way, or it may be an ancient palace or monastery. If you are an American or Russian there is a good chance you may be pretty shocked at the state. Despite a flurry of foreign buyers and gentrification, a lot of the communal areas can still best be described as ‘dingy’. There are two reasons this should not necessarily be a problem. The first is that it will not really affect rental value, where holiday-makers are more concerned about the circuit beach-bar-bed. It is rare a tourist will email a property management company asking for a photo of the stair-well. The second reason is that the communal areas will get refurbished eventually, even if no guarantees can be made as to when. Despite being a famous international hot-spot, many of the residents were born in the same apartment they now live retired. Every year residents vote on whether to refurbish the common areas, and the old generation are steadily being replaced with the new who are used to a higher standard of living.

You can expect to pay around €200,000 for a nice one bedroom apartment around 35sqm in a good location, and around €280,000 for a two bedroom around 70sqm. Prices can be as low as €150,000 for a one bedroom and €120,000 for a studio. If you have a budget of up to €300,000 then purchasing an apartment in the Old Town of Nice is one of the best investments you can make. Even a small one bedroom will rent for €500/week. An investor cannot beat this area for maximum yield for minimum outlay. It also is an excellent area for a pied-a-terre, especially a first purchase, giving easy resale and a healthy profit when you want to upgrade. With a budget of over €300,000 we would recommend looking more towards the Musicians Quarter or the Carre d’Or, unless the Old Town property has a special feature such as an open view over one of the main squares, one of those rare balconies, or a sea view.

One additional bonus of buying in the Old Town is remarkably low tax and monthly management charges. The yearly Taxe Fonciere, or council tax, is around €400/year as opposed to an average €1,200. Monthly charges are around €40-80 per month compared to €80-120 per month in the city centre.

One of the restaurants in Vieux NiceRestaurants on the Cours Saleya in Nice are always busy

Areas of note

The Cours Saleya, sometimes known as the flower market (or antiques market on Sunday), is a long pedestrian stretch that runs just behind the beach and is lined with cafes and restaurants. Each morning there is a local produce market, and both tourists and locals mingle through-out the stalls selling fruit, vegetables, olives, herbs, and cheeses.

The Palais de Justice, with the Place de Palais in front, is the largest square in the Old Town and is overlooked by the imposing court house. Impossible to miss, the steps and the fountain are often used as a convenient meeting point.

Place Rossetti is the square that lies in the heart of the Old Town. Overlooked by the beautiful Saint-Réparate cathedral, it is actually best known for Fenocchio and its huge array of flavoured ice-creams. Despite a slew of imitators, it is still often referred to by locals as “the ice cream place”.

Place St Francois lies the other side of the Old Town near Place Garibaldi. Famous for the morning fish market and eternally popular Chez Francois butcher, it may lie a few more minutes walk from the beach but the roads behind are some of the quietest Nice has to offer making it a pleasure to live.

Key Roads
  • Rue Droite – this long road runs almost the entire length of the Old Town is full of art galleries. Well located though quite a narrow street so apartments are not so sunny.
  • Rue Benoit Bunico – running in parallel and architecturally similar to Rue Droite, this is where many of the late night bars and discos are located though they are well policed to keep street noise to a minimum.
  • Rue Rossetti – leads up from Place Rossetti to the castle. Great location at the bottom but past Rue de la Croix turns into a less desirable area with buildings converted into council houses.
  • Rue de Prefecture – this is the main through-fare into the town. Flanked by the Palais de Justice on one side and ancient palaces on the other, the location is excellent. However all the main pubs are located here making certain sections noisy to live.
  • Rue des Ponchettes – sandwiched between the Cours Saleya and the beach front, this desirable road sees property snapped up before even hitting an agency window.
  • Rue Saint-Francois de Paule – recently widened and pedestrianised, this is the most high end road the Old Town has to offer. Lying between the beach and Place Massena, it hosts the Opera House, the Town Hall, and the most prestigious restaurants such as Le Petit Maison and Le Comptoir.
  • Rue Alexandre Mari – best known for a handful of almost-trendy lounge bars, this is a quiet and well located road just behind Rue Saint-Francois de Paule.

Of course there are dozens of smaller roads, all of which we know intimately, so do not hesitate to ask for the pros and cons of any road in which we suggest a property.

General info about - Nice - French Riviera

Advantages for a holiday home
  • Stay where you will spend most of your time
  • Great prices and good capital appreciation
  • Easy to let out when not in use
  • Very low taxes and monthly charges
Disdvantages for a holiday home
  • Crowded streets during the summer
Advantages for investors
  • Right in the heart of all the bars and restaurants
  • Five minutes walk from the beach
  • Most desirable spot for tourists, gives best yield
Disdvantages for investors
  • Busy and can be noisy, not to all tastes
  • No lift can cut down potential rental clients
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