Var is a French department of the Provence Alps Cote d'Azur region (better known in English speaking countries as the French Riviera), south east of France. Its name comes from the eponymous river which used to flow along the eastern border and which now flows in an adjacent department. Var is bordered by Bouches-du-Rhone, Vaucluse, Alpes de Haute Provence and Alpes Maritimes departments and by the Mediterranean Sea in the south.
In remote parts, Var’s scenery is mainly hills and small mountains. 62% of the area is wooded, which makes it the most wooded department of France. The principal massifs are the Maures, Esterel, Sainte Beaume and Lachens. In the south, it is composed of 420km of coasts, including its isles and offers wonderful sandy beaches.
The climate in Var is a Mediterranean one i.e. hot temperature, especially in summer. This is one of the reasons for its international reputation. The vegetation is similar to the one of the Provence area: mulberry trees, cork-oaks, live oaks, pines, mimosas amongst others. Fruit trees such as lemon trees, orange trees, fig trees and persimmons are growing in the fields and gardens and may be found all over the department.
The department was created in 1790 during the French Revolution from a part of the Provence area. Var was then occupied by Fascist Italy and German army. It has also welcomed Algeria repatriated which are now integrated in the Mediterranean department.
Var’s main economic resource is tourism, like many departments located in the French Riviera. The department more and more tries to develop in different sectors such as flowers, fruit, wine and vegetables. There, you can visit Bandol vineyards, discover the nestled villages of the Fayence area, hike in the Esterel massif, sail in the Giens peninsula, take a boat to reach Porquerolles and Port-Cros isles, see the famous Gorges du Verdon and Saint Croix lake.
In 2009, property prices in Var are above France’s average. Indeed, a property in the department is sold €3,867/ square metre whereas the national average is €3,197/ square metre. Such prices may be explained by the touristy attractions of the area i.e. beaches, weather and scenery. As regards rental prices, they are also high: €13.15/ square metre a month against €12.22/square metre in France as a whole. But the department has so much to offer. Tourists and people settling there are seduced by southern France where lifestyle is relaxed and typical!
Another asset of an investment in Var is its rental opportunities: it welcomes many tourists all year long and especially in summer. This may be a good placement for a buy-to-let as it is usually fast profitable to investors. If you are looking for a sunny retirement, this is also a great place where beautiful properties can be found on the local property market for any budget. Affordable properties are located in remote parts of the department and luxury ones are built in the coastal side.
To get updated info about the house prices in Var, please browse our French Property Market Reports published in the News Section every month.
Gourmet food: Var is an idyll for epicurean people. Produce to cook local dishes are mainly olive oil, garlic, southern vegetables and Provencal herbs. Aïoli sauce is typical from the French Riviera - made of olive oil and garlic. The eponymous dish includes the sauce, vegetables and cod-fish. Socca and Toulon Pastis are other typical specialities to be tasted. The first one is a split pea flour pancake and the second one is an alcoholic drink made of fennel, liquorice and anise.
Activities: any kind of activity is possible in the Var department as it gathers both mountains and sea. In the seafront, water-sports are loved by the locals and holidaymakers. Thus, there is a large choice: surfing, wind-surfing, water-skiing, jet-skiing and so on. In the countryside/mountains, the areas are ideal for hiking and biking lovers. Discovering the department riding a horse is also possible and it will make anyone’s day!
Lifestyle: quality life and relaxed lifestyle are both features of the French Riviera and so of the Var department. You will discover a typical French art de vivre in an astonishing place. You will feel all year long on holiday due to the Mediterranean Sea proximity and the sunny and hot weather. In winter, people benefit from the tranquillity and in summer, their town/city is converted into a dynamic resort holiday.
Mountains and sea: the Var department offers either sea or mountain scenery. The south part of the area is composed of sandy beaches and wonderful coasts where spending holidays or everyday life is pleasant. In remote parts, you can also discover beautiful massifs such as the Esterel Massif. Anyone should be seduced by French Riviera’s weather and landscapes.
Location – Transport links: you can access the town from Aix-en-Provence, Toulon and Marseille by motorway. 20 minutes from Toulon trade harbour and 45 minutes to Saint Tropez, Toulon-Hyeres airport is definitely the department’s main airport. It leads to national destinations (Paris, Brest) and European cities (Brussels, London, Rotterdam, Rome) and constitute a good asset for Var. Finally, the high-speed train (TGV) allows a direct access to the department from Paris (4hrs) as well as from many European capitals. Toulon, Les Arcs/Draguignan and Saint-Raphael railway stations are served by the French high-speed train.
Rental opportunities: as exposed previously, the Var department is a popular tourist location. International and national visitors come in the area each year, especially in summer, to appreciate the landscapes, tranquillity and quality life. Thus, it offers excellent rental opportunities either from seasonal short term lets or long term lets.
Wine and alcoholic drinks: the area is a bargain for wine lovers and epicurean people. When speaking about Provencal wines, we immediately have in mind a fresh rosé to be drunk in a sunny terrace. The Cotes de Provence are renowned for their quality and have been part of the AOC since 1977. Nowadays, these wines are exported in Europe, Japan, Australia and in the USA. Rosé wines represent 75% of the department production, red wines 20% and white wines only 5%. The grape varieties are: Cinsault, Grenache, Cabernet, Sauvignon, Tibouren, Syrah or Mouvèdre. Mixing these grapes give a loved taste.
Villas: these properties are luxury and modern coming with a swimming-pool, land planted with trees, automatic gate and covered terrace. Front facades are painted in pink, beige, orange or yellow. Inside, furniture is modern and rooms are of huge size. Villas are ideal if you are looking for settling in the area. They often offer a great view over the seaside and town/city.
Apartments: the Var department being a good locations for lets, it is full of apartments, which are usually a good kind of property to spend holidays or for a let. The main assets is its closeness to all amenities i.e. town centre and beaches. They are sometimes part of a housing estate and offer good facilities such as swimming-pool, automatic gate and private park.
Village houses: if your budget is low, you can pitch on a village house. As its name suggests, it is located in the town centre and thus near all amenities. They have no particular architecture style but may be a good compromise between a villa and an apartment. They may hold a garage, terrace and fireplace.
Click here for more info about Provence Alps Cote d'Azur Architecture.
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