INVESTORS see the light
Alex Frew McMillian
With its rich architectural and cultural heritage, luxury properties in Paris are consistently in demand, not only by the French but also by wealthy international individuals.
One of the best-loved cities in the world, Paris is also known as the City of Light, having earned its nickname from its role as a centre of knowledge in the Age of Enlightenment and later for its early adoption of gas-fired street lighting.
Now, some polls say, Paris has overtaken Hong Kong in seeing the fastest escalation in property prices over the past year. The French capital saw prices shoot up 22 per cent for the 12 months to the end of March, according to the property brokerage Knight Frank.
'Paris is and will stay one of the best investment cities in the world,' says Richard Bellanger, CEO of Hausseman. 'You can easily buy and rent your apartment or keep it and use it for your private convenience.'
The city is divided into 20 arrondissements, or districts, that spiral out from the 1st Arrondissement around the Louvre Museum. The 4th Arrondissement has Notre-Dame, while the 5th is the Latin Quarter, the city's intellectual heart and full of bookstores and boutiques. The 6th and 7th Arrondissements are on the Left Bank, the latter home to the Eiffel Tower. The Champs-Elysees and Arc de Triomphe sit in the 8th.
'Parisian luxury property offers stable and secure value,' says Myra Chan, a partner of Barnes International in Asia. 'The advice to clients from overseas is to select in the best districts in Paris. For example, the 7th, 8th, 16th and Neuilly are prestigious, safe and discreet.' Barnes is a Paris-based luxury real estate brokerage with 10 offices in France.
Chan notes emerging markets are proving an important new source of buyers, as Chinese tycoons are now used to taking their families on shopping trips simply to get the latest Louis Vuitton, Hermes, or Chanel.
'The luxury market continues to see very active international buyers from Europe, America, Middle East, Russia and increasingly Asia,' Chan says.
'The recent rise in Paris repeats the post-crash super-bounce in the central London market,' says Liam Bailey, head of residential research at Knight Frank, interpreting its outperformance.
Paris, like London, has been drawing investment from the 'new money' generated in the fast-emerging economies of the world, such as Brazil, Russia, India and China.
'In Paris' case, its strong performance can be attributed to burgeoning demand set against a backdrop of tight supply,' Bailey says.