In terms of tourism in France, the Var comes second to Paris with 9 million visitors in 2012, of which over a million were foreign visitors.
When the French tourist office ran a survey with British visitors in 2012, to find out what attracts them to the Var, the answers were:
- Sun and the climate
- Relaxed lifestyle and “savoir vivre”
- Charm of resorts, villages and markets
- Sea, the Mediterranean
- Gastronomy and wine
- Provence Countryside
- Ease of travel for reaching France due to the choice of airports and low cost air travel
- Cultural activities
- Close to skiing in the winter
- Lower cost of living and housing, especially when compared to the UK, Switzerland and towns like Oslo or Moscow.
- Excellent health care
- Security and low crime
- Positive demographics
- Stable long term investment environment at the heart of the EU
Another reason for some who have moved to the Var is simply moving closer to friends or relatives already living in the region. For more information on the Var, check www.visitvar.fr
What is weather like over the year ?
The climate in the Var tends to be drier with clearer skies and more wind than the Alpes Maritimes. It is the stunning blue skies that have given the Cote d’Azur its name. Some years blue skies can last 3 months in the summer with hardly a cloud or rain in sight. The special light of the region has attracted renowned painters like Cezanne and Picasso. The sun is not always synonymous with blue skies, as it was something I missed when I spent several years in Dubai and the Middle East.
The coastline of the Var
There is quite a variety between the larger towns of Frejus and Saint Raphael, to the wilder and more unspoilt beaches and coves between St Tropez and Hyeres, facing the Porquerolles islands. On the east of the Var the red rocky hills of the Esterel plunge into the sea, with a few unspoilt beaches hidden away, accessible via footpaths. The coastline is typically Mediterranean, with pine trees and with large nature reserves in the hinterland like the Maure mountains.
In the bay of St Tropez, lies Port Grimaud, a Provencal Venice, where you go shopping by dinghy. The famous Pampelone beach near St Tropez provides a 5 km stretch of a fine sandy beach, with over 25 restaurants and clubs, like the mythic Club 55. The village of Saint Tropez has been remarkably preserved and like Sainte Maxime, are examples of how to preserve small coastal towns from becoming a concrete jungle.
If property near fashionable Saint Tropez can reach the same heights as Monaco (22000 Eur/m2), you can find more reasonable priced villas on the coast between Sainte Maxime and Frejus in the smaller coastal towns of Les Issambres and Saint-Aygulf, at around 4000 Eur/m2.
The Var Inland
If you like the Var countryside, vineyards and olive groves, and want more land, then head to the inland area of the Var called also “Provence verte”. The inland area has become increasingly popular with residents wanting to flee the summer crowds, with many residents settling in the surrounding areas of Lorgues, Bargemon and Fayence. As most houses come with swimming pools to cool down in the hot summer, there is less of a need being very close to the sea.
In the tranquil and yet popular market town of Lorgues you will find Michelin star truffles restaurant Bruno, a host of well-known wine domains like the Chateau de Berne, and close by the medieval abbey of Thoronet where Gregorian is still sung. There are stunning views of the surrounding plain from the villages of Tourtour and Cotignac. You can go walking or canoeing in the Gorge de Verdon and relax afterwards, wine tasting in the Chateau de Miraval in Correns, Brad and Angelina’s property since 2008.
On the outskirts of the many typical Provencal villages of the Var inland, lie nestled in the countryside many lovely houses for sale at around 3000 Eur/m2.
Not all the reasons listed above for coming to the Var will apply in your case, but there were enough reasons for the 20 000 North Europeans and Americans who have become resident in the Var, and preferred this area to the many other wonderful regions in France.
As Winston Churchill said, himself a keen traveler and frequent visitor to the South of France: “…the Gallic race have maintained themselves against all comers in possession of what is, upon the whole, the fairest tract of the earth’s surface”.