France has many well-known areas which overseas buyers flock to, in order to buy property. Predictably, these are touristic areas like Paris, Provence-Alpes- Côte d’Azur and the Dordogne. But if you are looking for space or land and would like to make your money go much further, here are four suggestions to consider.
The well-informed buyer is aware that there are some lesser-known areas which offer great value for money, in terms of space and quality of living. These treasures are strongholds of unpolluted Frenchness, untainted by the limitations imposed by the preferences of foreign tourists.
As part of my role at FrenchEntreé Property Services, I constantly pore over property listings, comparing location and features to their respective prices. In my experience, the following areas of France offer excellent value for money:
Burgundy: Dijon, the region’s capital, which has an enviably long history, stunning architecture and exquisite traditional gastronomy, is experiencing a revitalisation. It boasts a reborn town centre, a new tram system, shops and restaurants. Dijon was the centre of power of the Dukes of Burgundy, who were once mightier than Paris. This translates into still-good road connections, giving you access to the ski slopes in under two hours, and the Med’s beaches in less than five.
Dijon is big enough to be interesting but ‘small town friendly’. It is the door to the Burgundy Grand Crus wine route to the south and just over an hour and a half from Paris on the high-speed train. The wine route winds down along the Côte de Nuits and the Côte de Beaune, a 60-kilometre itinerary punctuated by over 30 picture-perfect villages, each with their own claim to fame. Beaune, of the very famous wine, is one of the best-known regions in France for its rich and varied gastronomy.The more rural areas towards the Morvan regional park offer great access to Paris and Geneva, and its many character properties are excellent value for money. Due to its noble history, it’s also a great place to find châteaux!
Champagne-Ardenne: This huge region stretches from the Belgian border down to Burgundy, and possesses an excellent highway network and the new TGV Est high-speed train. The region’s capital, Reims, and nearby Épernay attract the most attention for their brand-name Champagne houses, but the rest of the countryside is a bucolic poetry of green hills speckled with charming villages of historical and cultural interest. On the Route des Champagnes you still find small, family-owned winemakers keeping local traditions alive.
There are properties for every budget and some of the best deals can be found in the southern part of the region.
Auvergne: A paradise for nature lovers and a haven of peace and quiet, this region enjoys four well-defined seasons with balmy warm summers and snowy winters. It comprises the four départements of Allier, Puy de Dôme, Cantal and Haute-Loire. Caressed by the Allier and Loire rivers, with multiple ponds and lakes throughout, the northern end is covered in hills, while the southern portion is mountainous and dotted with pastures. Auvergne has a number of inactive volcanoes with active thermal spas, which makes the area one of the leading thermal and health spa resorts in France.
It’s a great place for people looking to buy a property with large amounts of land for a smallholding at a reasonable price.
Drôme Provençale: Although administratively it is not part of Provence-Alpes-Côte d’Azur, the southern tip of the Drôme is tucked between the Vaucluse and the Hautes-Alpes departements and, as the name indicates, benefits from the same Provençal atmosphere, exceptional light and gorgeous weather. Everything about this area evokes Provence, starting with its olive groves, fields of lavender, local produce, nougat from Montélimar, goat’s cheese and local wines, which are increasingly gaining in reputation.
You’ll be a little bit further from the coast, but this area offers great mas and bastide properties with beautiful Mediterranean gardens but without exorbitant price tags.
Here to Help…
I hope you now have some food for thought, but do be aware that properties in these areas tend to be promoted on the ground, locally, rather than via the international market.
The good news is that we have the know-how and contacts to help, so if you would like some assistance discovering these and other great areas, or want to find out more about what the French property market has to offer, do call us on +44 (0)1 225 463752 or email us at [email protected]
Gaëlle Perreaux is in charge of FrenchEntrée Property Services Ltd, which has been helping international buyers find their dream property in France for a decade. With over 120 estate agent partners, they are able to source any kind of French property, priced from 40,000 euros to 40 million euros.
Originally published in France Today magazine