‘Bonne’, ‘beau’ and ‘bio’… All three have positive connotations, but surely there’s something more than a good start to their names that has made the towns of Valbonne, Beaulieu-sur-Mer and Biot the three most attractive places to live in the Alpes-Maritimes.
At the end of 2017, the Fédération Nationale de l’Immobilier (FNAIM) for the Côte d’Azur published the results of a self-commissioned study that asked where in the Alpes-Maritimes, from Menton in the east to Mandelieu-La Napoule in the west, is the best place to live. Pulling on sources from INSEE and Jestimo, a professional real estate evaluation tool, the bureau imposed 12 criteria on 31 of the largest towns and cities in the region: access to public services and amenities; culture, sport and leisure; education; income; employment and employment prospects; environment and ecology; the balance between professional and private life; accommodation; property taxation; safety and security; health; and transport.
Valbonne leads the rankings with an overall score of 7.5/10. According to the study, it achieves a solid 10/10 in five areas: public services, education, income, employment, and property taxation (based on taxe d’habitation contributions). In second place is Beaulieu-sur-Mer with 7.3/10, which is rated particularly well for its environmentally-friendly ethos and public transport services. In third is Biot at 7.23/10, which scored highly in almost all areas, but was let down by its poor accommodation rating (2.5/10).
The towns of Mouans-Sartoux, Antibes, Saint-Laurent-du-Var, Mougins, Cannes, Villefranche-sur-Mer and Cagnes-sur-Mer make up the rest of the Top 10, all with scores above 6.5. Poor ranking large towns include Mandelieu-La Napoule in 21st, Grasse in 23rd and Menton in 25th, while the study places La Trinité and Contes at the bottom of the pile with scores of less than 5/10 (4.49 and 4.11 respectively).
The director of the FNAIM Côte d’Azur, Frédéric Pelou, hopes that the results will be used by local politicians to see where their constituencies are thriving and where they are failing, but also addresses criticism about the study’s limited methodology (such as with culture and leisure that questions how many residents are members of sports clubs or how many live with 15 minutes of a cinema or theatre), saying mayors are welcome to conduct their own internal surveys.
“We produced this study so that elected officials can compare [their towns] with others in the département,” he explains. “Beyond the political aspect, the study also provides an insight into life in the region for individuals who may want to move here. Questions about topics such as schools and public transport access are often by professionals ahead of buying a property. It all counts!”