By Ruth Faulkner, Contributing Reporter
RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL – Chic neighborhood Leblon, named after a successful French businessman and located in the popular Zona Sul (South Zone), offers a nice beachfront, many high-end restaurants and borders on the natural beauty of the city’s heart-shaped Rodrigo de Freitas Lagoon. While the neighborhood remains the most expensive in Rio de Janeiro, real estate prices have recently seen a cooling off.
Although it’s considerably quieter than Copacabana or Ipanema, Leblon still bustles with shopping, restaurants and up-until-dawn clubs. While the new Metro line is still under construction, Leblon remains accessible by the Metro Bus which stops throughout Leblon, a myriad of other buses, or by a leisurely thirty minutes stroll from General Osorio station.
“Leblon is Rio’s wealthiest and most exclusive neighborhood with parallels to London’s Notting Hill or NYC’s Upper East Side. It’s a social mecca for Rio’s chicest Cariocas who are drawn to the combination of both the vibrant cosmopolitan culture and the peacefulness of a high-end residential neighborhood,” Flora Lowther, of Rio Exclusive – a Luxury Vacation Rentals and Real Estate company – describes the area.
Leblon is split into two zones, Upper and Lower Leblon. Upper Leblon (Alto Leblon) on the hilly west side is more residential with stunning houses, mansions and posh apartments. Lower Leblon (Baixo Leblon) is the more bohemian side of the neighborhood. This area starts at Cazuza Square and includes streets Dias Ferreira and the beginning of Ataulfo de Paiva.
“For someone newly arriving in Leblon, Rua Dias Ferreira is a must-visit where you can find some of the most culinary-forward restaurants in the city all on one street,” Ms. Lowther told The Rio Times.
The street offers food for every palate with notable restaurants such as Leblon Sushi, Brigite’s and Zuka. The lively area also has more than thirty fashion stores, trendy bars, wine shops and chocolate shops giving it a market-place vibe.
For shopping lovers, Leblon is definitely the place to be. Its large mall, Shopping Leblon, is one of Rio´s most distinctive shopping destinations boasting high-end retail stores such as Channel and Armani as well as four Kinoplex movie theaters with 3D technology and a food court overlooking the Lagoon. It is also home to the biggest theater in the South Zone, the Oi Casa Grande Theater.
Adjacent to this you can find the even more exclusive Rio Design Leblon with designer stores and nice touches that include a bilingual concierge and even a library for regular customers.
On the top floors of the Rio Design building, Rio Exclusive offers a one-of-a-kind housing opportunity with their penthouse, with panoramic views of Leblon beach and the Lagoon and a private pool.
On Leblon’s outskirts it borders on the Lagoa Rodrigo de Freitas lagoon and offers a different style of entertainment. It is dotted with private country clubs, including Paysandú and Monte Líbano, while Clube de Regatas do Flamengo is a mandatory stop for football (soccer) fans. For the more active, a run or cycle around the Lagoon is great way to spend a cooler afternoon.
Christopher de Buys, Swiss, has lived in Leblon for twelve years after falling in love with “the kindness and magic of the Brazilian culture.” He told The Rio Times: “The district is one of the safest in Rio, a quieter neighborhood and is rich in natural beauty. You feel like you’re in a little village, doing everything by foot and having access to many open air fruit and vegetable markets all week long.”
This idyllic area comes with the high price tag one could expect and remains the most expensive neighborhood in Rio de Janeiro even though rents have been falling since August 2014. In March 2015, the square meter price to rent in Leblon was at R$67, a price last seen in December 2013. In the last twelve months, rental prices have fallen by 1.2 percent according to Fipe-Zap.
However, vacation or short-term rentals, especially during key periods such as Carnival and New Years, and especially the upcoming 2016 Olympic Games, can be expected to give the neighborhood another boost in prices.