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WHY PARIS FLASTS ARE.. CHIC AT THE PRICE.

BRITS have an on-going love affair with all things French, particularly when it comes to buying property. But purchases have usually been confined to the countryside, or if you're really rich, the Rivieria - until now.

Latest figures show that Britons are increasingly looking to the French capital as a place to invest their money and spend their free time.

And with prices of property in Paris 60 per cent lower than in London - not to mention Eurostar making it quick, cheap and easy to pop over there - the attraction is obvious.

Paris is so popular with British buyers that last year they overtook Americans as the second biggest group of foreigners buying homes there.

According to figures from the Chambres des Notaires de Paris (the city's law association which provides guides to the Parisian property market), we are now only just behind front-runners Italians.

One in 10 foreigners buying in Paris is now British, attracted by the prices, the closeness and most of all, the jenesais quoi.

Galenya Dubios, director of Flat Hunter, a Paris-based agency that helps Brits to find property in the capital, says: "Britons are attracted to the Parisian lifestyle and culture. They love the fact that, unlike many British cities, neighbourhoods in Paris can be busy day and night, not just in office hours. They can be here on Eurostar in less than three hours and be right in the centre enjoying the charm of the city."

KAREN ROCKETTmeets two British couples who have just bought holiday flats in Paris to do just that...

'Paris can be busy both night and day'

BRITISH BUYERS' 5 FAVE AREAS:

1st arrondissement: This is a very chic area. It's close to the Ritz and also the underground Les Halles shopping complex. The average price is pounds 4,500 per square metre.

3rd arrondissement: The up-andcoming Marais district is close to the Pompidou centre, which houses the MusAe National d'Art Moderne. The average price is pounds 4,425 per square metre.

5th arrondissement: The area is home to the Sorbonne but it's way too expensive for most students. The average price is pounds 4,870 per square metre.

6th arrondissement: This is the perfect place for the well-heeled and arty who are into Parisian cafA society, and it's also close to the Jardin du Luxembourg. The average price is pounds 5,410 per square metre.

18th arrondissement: This patch of Paris takes in the Montmartre and the Moulin Rouge but beware of its proximity to the red light district. The average price is pounds 3,180 per square metre.

MORE INFORMATION

TO contact Flat Hunter in Paris, telephone 0033 142 266435.

For a guide to buying in Paris, visit www.paris-notaire.fr

If you are serious about buying in France, don't miss the exhibition Vive La France, January 19-21 at Olympia, London. With more than 300 exhibitors, the event showcases fine wines and food, French culture, style and interior design, as well as a variety of travel destinations and a host of properties. Tickets cost pounds 8 in advance, pounds 12 on the door. To book, call 0870 013 0730 or go to www.vivelafrance.co.uk

From Southend to the Seine

WHO Kieron King, 51, a retired civil servant, and wife Rosemary, a banker.

BOUGHT One-bedroom flat in 13th arrondissement.

COST pounds 170,000.

KIERON and Rosemary King bought their flat last June and have already visited it 11 times.

Kieron, who fell in love with Paris when he first visited 15 years ago, says: "We go mostly on Eurostar, which is so easy, but we've driven over twice when we've needed to bring things over."

The couple from Hockley, near Southendon- Sea, Essex, bought in the 13th arrondissment, on the Left Bank, close to Chinatown and the French equivalent of the National Library.

"We enjoy going to flea markets here to buy furniture and going to exhibitions or for a trip down the Seine," says Kieron.

They bought through Flat Hunter, first filling in a detailed questionnaire about what they were looking for. Then they spent a few days in Paris, looking at 16 flats on offer before choosing their 40 sq m apartment on the ground floor of an 1895 building.

"We saw the flat last April, put down a 10 per cent non-returnable deposit, and were given the keys on June 20," says Kieron.

"We paid around pounds 5,500 in fees.

"We have spent a further pounds 30,000 having it rewired, decorated, new wooden floors and a new kitchen and bathroom. Flat Hunter helped us to find an architect and builder.

"Now we are looking forward to plenty of romantic weekends in Paris in 2007."

French village in the capital

WHO Hilly Edwards, 52, a psychologist and Kevin McConway, 56, a lecturer.

BOUGHT One-bedroom flat in 2nd arrondissement.

COST pounds 155,000.

THE lovely pedestrianised street Rue Montorgueil is a key feature of the 2nd arrondissement where Hilly and Kevin bought their flat last summer.

"The area has a very villagey feel with great shops but it's nice and quiet too," says Hi lly. "I love sitting in cafes and going round the markets and Kevin loves browsing in book shops."

The couple, from Milton Keynes, also bought through Flat Hunter.

"We got a French mortgage as the rate was better than here. The whole process took about three months," says Hilly. "Our legal fees were around pounds 6,000. Although the French system for buying property seems very bureaucratic, if you follow it step by step it is very clear." They have since spent a further pounds 34,000 doing up the third-floor apartment.

"We are hoping to be able to get over there once a month as it is so quick on Eurostar," says Hilly. "And when they build the new link from Kings Cross it will be even easier to get there from Milton Keynes."

The couple have two grown-up children, and Hilly adds: "We going back again next week to do things such as getting the television and telephone installed - that way the kids might come and visit us there too!"

CAPTION(S):

Bohemian... Brit buyers love Montmartre, the artistic quarter Picture: ALAMY' Signing... Kieron & Rosemary King make an offer for their flat, above' Quiet corner... Hilly Edwards relaxes in her Paris flat, above Picture: ANNA EDWARDS-McCONWAY
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Title Annotation:Features
Publication:Sunday Mirror (London, England)
Date:Jan 14, 2007
Words:1057
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