La Nouvelle Aquitaine is the largest region in France, encompassing no less than 12 departments. Bordeaux is the region’s largest city and as a whole, this area is one of the most attractive in which to buy property. It benefits from a good economy, tourism, agriculture, innovation and research, several ski resorts in the south and, naturally, a thriving wine industry.
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With a variety of departments to choose from, this begs the question – which one would suit you? We have picked our top 5 departments and reveal why each of them could be the perfect location for your French property.
Corrèze – a wealth of beautiful villages
The Corrèze was originally in the department of the Limousin and again, takes its name from the river which runs through the centre. Its two main towns are Tulle and Brive.
This is still one of the cheapest departments in which to buy property. You will find some remarkable bargains here! The department boasts some wonderful countryside, lakes and rivers as well as attractive villages such as Curemonte, Saint-Robert, Turenne and Collonges-la-Rouge.
There are some gorgeous ancient houses here and a budget of around €90,000 will buy you a lovely 3 bed home with garden. You can even find property around the €45,000 mark if you are prepared to do some work. A budget of around €400,000 will buy you a chateau in this department!
Charente – the Dordogne’s affordable neighbour
Named after the river Charente, this is a beautiful and often overlooked department is in the south eastern area of the Poitou Charentes region and north of the better known department of the Dordogne.
The Charente has some wonderful countryside to explore on foot or by bike and is home to the lovely towns of Angouleme and Cognac.
Other notable towns and villages here are Ruffec, Jarnac, Saint-Simon and Bassac. A lovely thing to do is to cycle along the towpaths of the river or, for the more adventurous, take a canoe or kayak.
Property prices here are reasonable with a choice of styles too. You can pick up a decent 3 bed house with garden for around €150,000. Double this and you can find a large renovated property with land. However, even a budget of around €50,000 will afford you a small house needing renovation! As for styles, there are some pretty stone houses here as well as modern one-level homes.
The Charente is a great rival to the Dordogne: close to it but without the expensive price tag when it comes to buying property!
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Lot et Garonne – for nature lovers
The Lot et Garonne is a lovely rural department bordered by the Tarn et Garonne, the Gers, Landes, Gironde and the Dordogne. Its principal town is Agen, famous for its Armagnac brandy.
Full of medieval “bastide” villages with timber and stone houses, the Lot et Garonne lies south of the Dordogne and is a perfect place in which to buy property for all nature lovers. Think peaceful rolling hills, forests, meandering rivers and a quiet pace of life.
Property prices are again fairly reasonable here. Expect to pay around €200,000 for a renovated ancient house, a little more for one with land. Many properties come with “pigeonniers” (pigeon houses) which of course can be converted into gites for extra income.
Haute Vienne – the region’s best kept secret
The Haute Vienne is named after the Vienne river and is on the border of Correz in the south, Dordogne in the south west, Charente in the west, Vienne in the north west, Creuse in the east and Indre towards the north.
Probably the least well known of our 5 departments, this is nonetheless a beautiful area with stunning landscapes, totally unspoilt countryside, rivers and lakes. There are some pretty villages and towns here too, many with ancient historical monuments.
The main town of Limoges, famous for its porcelain, is not to be missed: a gorgeous medieval town, one of those places where the ancient buildings almost touch each other on the small streets!
This is a great department in which to buy property. You can buy a 3 bed house with a couple of acres of land for under €150,000 but even a budget of around €50,000 will afford you a small house with a little outside space! At the other end of the scale, you can find a large renovated stone house with land for around €400,000.
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Pyrénées Atlantiques – for sleek coastal resorts
Let’s go right over to the far south west corner of France now to the Pyrenees Atlantiques, named after the Pyrenees and the Atlantic Ocean.
Located in the Basque country, near the border with Spain, this is a region which encompasses the glamorous coastal resorts of Biarritz and St Jean de Luz as well as storybook villages and the Pyrenees National Park.
Biarritz has always been a popular glitzy resort for Parisians and foreign nationals too with its superb architecture, long sandy beach and superb views. St. Jean de Luz is a smaller but also very lively buzzy town where you will find some glitzy villas and a fabulous beach. Bayonne is also well worth a visit. The port town of Ciboure just south of St. Jean de Luz has a very picturesque harbour, made famous for having the painters Matisse and Ravel live there at one time.
As with many areas of France, there are still some bargains to be had for renovation projects and prices tend to hold their own in this area.
Over at the eastern side of the area you will find Pau, a sophisticated town with some great historical monuments as well as some upmarket restaurants and shops.
The Pyrenees National Park is well worth a visit: beautiful scenery with lakes and waterfalls, a fantastic place to discover on foot or by bike!
Property prices are reasonable here though a little higher than many other areas of the Nouvelle Aquitaine. You can buy a decent townhouse for around €250,000 and if your budget stretches, a large manor house for around €500,000. As with many areas of France though, there are still some bargains to be had for renovation projects and prices tend to hold their own in this area.
This very large area generally has four seasons but a range of different climates, depending on which part of it you are in. The region from Charente to Landes has a maritime climate and the north west area has hot summers and cold winters. The Pyrenees naturally have a mountain climate. Expect a good deal of sun in the summer time across the whole region, with most areas protected from the wind.
Accessibility from the UK
You are spoilt for choice with transport links from the UK. There are several airports serving the UK and Ireland such as Bordeaux, Pau, Toulouse, Biarritz, Lourdes and Bergerac. Easyjet and Ryanair have regular services as well as BA and Aer Lingus.
The Nouvelle Aquitaine covers such a large area. Being more or less the heart of France, there is a huge amount to discover here. It is likely that you’ll want to go back several times and if you are looking for a second home in France, this is one of the best areas in which to do so.