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Property of the month: 4 reasons to buy this chic St Tropez villa

Property of the month: 4 reasons to buy this chic St Tropez villa

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There's never been a better time to buy in St Tropez

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The super-chic Villa L'Amour by Armani/Casa in St Tropez was raised up to provide some spectacular sea views, says Francesca Steele...

In St Tropez, the summer season has been a success despite the wider economic gloom muttered in conversations on the terraces. The white sand beaches have been shimmering, the bars have been full, Leonardo DiCaprio, Elton John and a constellation of Instagramable celebrities have been partying on yachts.

The once humble village of St Tropez is today the jewel on the French Riviera. It is more expensive per square metre than anywhere else on this famous stretch of coast, in part because it is a micro-market, where planning is difficult to obtain and large houses hard to come by.

But for the discerning property buyer, change has been afoot and there are bargains to be found. Elodie Marchi, of Savills’ French Riviera office, says that while last year there were a lot of viewings for properties around €10-€15 million, now people are more interested in the €2-€3 million market. For between €2 and €5 million you can find a small house or large flat in the old town with three to four bedrooms. For a sea view and a decent-sized garden you’d have to look at €10 million-plus.

“The market has slowed but having said that, I don’t think prices can drop further because the market is small,” says Marchi. “St Tropez isn’t an investment market; it’s a lifestyle one, which keeps it afloat even in tough times. Even during the credit crunch people forced to sell didn’t lose money on their initial purchase.”

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It has a prime, hard-won location

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Earlier this year, Giorgio Armani’s property division, Armani/Casa, completed its first property in London, the renovated townhouse at Queen’s Gate Place, near the Natural History Museum in South Kensington, for £35 million. It was the latest in a growing global portfolio that includes Miami, Mumbai, Istanbul and Rome. But one of the designer’s first property projects was a much more intimate affair.

Armani agreed to work on a residence in St Tropez for some Milanese friends who were looking for a holiday home they could potentially use all year round. “It’s incredibly hard to find good plots in St Tropez, but they found a spot they saw potential in and spent a few years persuading the current owner to sell,” says the agent (and owner’s son-in-law) Joshua Buckley. But it wasn’t yet perfect. The land was too low and it took several years just to get planning permission and add enough soil to create a space where a home with sea views could be built.

Today, Villa L’Amour by Armani/Casa is a stunning blend of Tropezienne architecture that is sympathetic to the original fishermen’s cottages. A two-storey building with a simple, muted façade and classic wooden shutters, it has a glamorous yet minimalist interior that typifies Armani’s trademark style.

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It oozes Armani/Casa luxury

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There are five en suite bedrooms (plus a staff bedroom) and the Armani “greige” palette is found throughout: muted greens, beige and greys on the walls, the floors and furniture. The villa is sunny, calming and achingly hip.

But that low-key colour scheme does not mean low-key materials. The interior walls are made with Marmorino Venetian stucco – Armani tracked down one of the only artisans who still make the traditional lime-based plaster authentically. The floors are laid with brushed smoked oiled oak; the bathrooms are Brazilian marble. Outside, Brazilian paving stones surround the Aqualift pool – the floor of which can be raised so that the pool disappears underneath it, creating a larger area for entertaining.

The property has a double, open-plan reception room and a high-tech aluminium and bronze kitchen, complete with Gaggenau appliances – and those highly coveted sea views. But what really makes the property stand out is its proximity to the centre of town. It is less than 500 metres from St Tropez’s hotspots, including the celebrity mecca Hôtel Byblos and charming main square, Place des Lices.

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