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Inside the Market / Big Deals

French buyers reaffirm their presence on the super-luxury property market

hotel coulanges super-luxury French buyers Xavier Niel

Several large transactions undertaken by wealthy French buyers this year highlights the return of resident buyers to France’s super-luxury real estate market.

The purchases of four exceptional properties in particular by French residents and expats have caught the public eye. The first of these is the stately Hôtel Coulanges on the Place des Vosges in Paris’ 4th arrondissement, bought by the head of network operator “Free” Xavier Niel, for 31.5 million euros.

The 2,000m2 home, located in the heart of the historic Marais district, was the childhood home of famous 17th century author the Marquise de Sévigné. It was also one of the 75 Parisian sites to feature in the “Reinventing Paris” renovation competition last year.

According to Paulo Fernandes, CEO of real estate agency Paris Ouest Sotheby’s, this transaction represents the return of the French to the luxury real estate market. “Since the start of the year, we’ve seen French buyers come back,” he states, adding that “until the end of 2015, the market was dominated by foreign customers, mostly Chinese, American and Middle-Eastern buyers.”

He believes that while the sale of Madame de Sévigné’s private mansion to Niel is “one of the best deals of the year,” the high sum the property fetched is “a normal price” for the Place des Vosges.

In the first five months of this year, luxury real estate network Daniel Féau — and its subsidiary Belles Demeures — reports having concluded 8 sales on Parisian property costing over 10 million euros.

One of these is the Villa Normande, near the Invalides, which recently sold for 23 million euros after just three months on the market. In April, a rich French entrepreneur — till then living abroad — bought the 800m2 property, situated at the heart of the Ecole Militaire area in the 7th arrondissement.

In the spring, a couple of expats bought a 400m2 private mansion with a 655m2 garden in Saint-Germain-des-Prés for 13.5 million euros. With its 10 ground floor rooms, separate studio, garage and series of cellars, the property sold in just a day.

Finally, the priciest transaction of the year so far was recently undertaken by François Pinault — the 8th richest person in France — and involved the purchase of a large home in the 7th arrondissement. The billionaire already owns three similar properties on the left bank. The founder of the PPR group — now named Kering — has bought the Hôtel de Clermont-Tonnerre, which was built at the start of the 18th century and is located at 118 rue du Bac. The property’s entire interior was classified as a historic monument in 1991 and the façades, roof, vestibule, floor and grand staircase have also been listed since 1997.

Pinault also made the news recently with the announcement that his bid to buy the Bourse du Commerce ­— located near the Forum des Halles in the centre of Paris — to transform it into the Pinault Collection had been successful. The art gallery is due to open by end 2018, with architect Tadao Ando designing the interior of the round rotunda and its 3,500m2 of exhibition space.

Photo credit: Hotel Coulanges /


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