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International HNWs looking to sell or buy their secondary residences in France regularly call up the head of Knight Frank’s French network, which focuses on Provence, the Côte d’Azur, the south-west of the country and the Alps. Harvey says confidence returned to the market last year and expects the trend to continue into 2016, with prices generally weak and with cheaper mortgages. ‘There remain some very good opportunities for buyers,’ he says. ‘My advice is: don’t hang around too long. You probably have only a year or so before prices start strengthening again.’ However, Harvey, who grew up in France and now has a charming, almost indiscernible accent, warns against going hors-piste. ‘It’s a risky endeavour to try to find a new area in the market we are in,’ he says. ‘If you’re talking about investments and long-term ownership, your money is always best spent in locations that are internationally renowned and that have the infrastructure in place.’ That doesn’t just mean sunny vineyards but also the snowy peaks where he can help clients secure their own skiing chalet and beat the current return you would get on a London property — according to a recent report he co-authored. So does he holiday in the French Riviera himself? ‘France tends to be the most convenient destination,’ he admits. ‘But I try to avoid the locations in which we do business. I like to see new places. I don’t really want to run into too many clients during my holiday either.’

Mark Harvey