Close to Nîmes and Montpellier, these two neighbouring communes play host to both locals and tourists, the latter highly appreciative of these holiday addresses turned towards the sea.
The story of Aigues-Mortes recalls that in 1240 A.D., Saint Louis decided to build a town at the gateway to his kingdom to give it access to the Mediterranean. Seven centuries later, the fortifications are still one of the best preserved examples of medieval architecture in France. Inside the ramparts, one finds village houses with patios. Some requiring renovation (290,000 € with a courtyard and garage), others already restored (from 450,000 to 500,000 €). They are very popular among holiday-makers from Paris, Lyon or elsewhere. Outside the ramparts, fairly recent developments propose villas of 120 to 130 m2 with gardens and swimming pools starting from 350,000 € and appealing to the locals. The Canal de Roubine flows beneath the walls and forms today’s harbour of Aigues-Mortes. This is where one finds the marinas with charming fishermen’s houses and substantial villas, mostly used as second residences. For the first, one can expect to pay 300,000 for 3 main rooms. The villas with their generous surface areas of 150 to 200 m2 and corresponding appointments are aimed at clients with high purchasing power (from Paris, Lyon…), who pay on average 800,000 € to become owners. “Aigues-Mortes is easily accessible, just 10 minutes from the motorway linking it to Nîmes and Montpellier, 15 minutes from the airport, and 3 hrs 30 from Paris by train”, says Marie-Thé Martell of Aigues-Mortes Immobilier
. In the case of sales, supply does not meet demand, though seasonal rentals provide a buoyant market with the French (in the vast majority), but also Italians and Germans renting village or fishermen’s houses for 700 € per week.
Next door to Aigues-Mortes, Le Grau-du-Roi is surrounded by water : to the south, by the Mediterranean (with the beach of Le Boucanet, Port Camargue and the headland of L’Espiguette), to the east by Le Petit Rhône, to the west by Le Vidourle, and to the north by the lakes of Le Ponant, Le Médard, Le Repausset Levant and Salonique. The town centre is laid out around the canal connecting the lakes and Aigues-Mortes to the sea. Depending on whether they are on the seafront or the second row, apartments in village houses are priced from 3,500 to 4,000, or even 5,000 € per sq. metre. The area of Le Boucanet lies to the west, on the right bank. Here again, front-row properties, often high-class apartments, cost around 5,000 €/m2 and are popular among people from Nîmes or Arles. Houses find takers among people working in La Grande Motte or Montpellier, offering easy access. A home built in the late 1990’s will fetch 3,500 to 4,000 €/m2. The east, or left bank, plays host to the Palais de la Mer and, further on, Port Camargue. The Palais de la Mer is spiked with recent residences mainly proposing “cabin studios” ; small surface areas (from 20 m2) which start at 90,000 € and rise to 120,000 for 2-roomed apartments. “These are obviously second homes. Owners spend their holidays here, on average two weeks in summer, and rent them out the rest of the time,” says Cyril Larouzière of Optimhome
. A week’s rental costs 400-500 €.
Port Camargue was built in the 1960’s and now offers 4,800 berths including 2,240 “marinas”. This type of apartment with landing stage sells from 4,500 to 6,000 €/m2, depending on its precise location and condition. Buyers own a boat, whether French, Belgian or German. In addition to apartments, there are also villas built from 1995 to 2000, with small gardens, 400 to 600 m2, ranging from 3,000 to 4,000 €/m2. The largest pleasure harbour in Europe, and the second worldwide after San Diego, Le Grau-du-Roi is experiencing a boom and has, logically enough, developed activities related to boating. Estate-agents noted that “marinas”, rather atypical properties, were badly hit by legislation on capital gains at the end of 2011. As a result, many owners withdrew them from the market, opting instead for seasonal rentals. Nevertheless, the market for “small” units (250,000 to 350,000 €) is still seeing a lot of activity. And prospects look good, because the appeal of the “marina” depends on personal enjoyment and, as coastal law now prohibits any further construction, the existing ones can only rise in value.