France has always been a firm favourite for retirees seeking out new adventures, lifestyles and living their dreams. Here we look at the most affordable towns and villages for your retirement in 2021.
2020 has certainly raised some challenges for those looking to move their lives to France. Both COVID-19 and the impending Withdrawal Agreement (finally due to kick in at the end of this year) have brought last minute changes to best laid plans. But, this certainly hasn’t dampened the enthusiasm of British people looking to follow their dreams and settle here for their retirement.
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Thankfully the predictions are that, even beyond this year, Britain’s long held love affair with France will continue, particularly for those looking to spend their twilight years abroad. Here we take a closer look at some of the hidden gems – the most affordable towns and villages in France.
Normandy provides some real benefits to expats looking to retire. As well as the value of property here, its proximity to the UK is clearly a big draw to those needing to remain close for family reasons. For those needing to work, Normandy is even commutable to the UK. Boasting stunning countryside and fabulous coastlines, it provides some magnificent options for the most affordable towns and villages in France.
Not far from Honfleur, Deauville and Rouen lies the charming little town of Pont-Audemer. Known as one of the most beautiful detours in France and called the “Venice of Normandy”, because it is crossed by rivers, the atmosphere here is typically Norman.
In this town, one of the benefits is that everything is easily accessible by foot – with many shops, bars and restaurants to suit every taste. The streets wind through the medieval centre with wonderful views across the valleys.
The markets here are the best in France (according to those from the area, of course!). Offerings include organic and bio products, as well as oysters and over-fired fresh bread. The heritage, walking, forests, water sports, fishing and culture are but a few of the reasons that attract people to this wonderful place.
Prices for property here average around €1,489 per m².
The Charente in Southwest France is bordered by the Dordogne, also a favourite department of expats. The Charente has always been a popular place for people to settle and there are large diverse communities here, making integration into your new life both easy and welcoming.
The river naturally lends itself to water sports including wild swimming, stand-up paddleboarding and kayaking.
Within the Charente lies the picturesque village of Aubeterre-sur-Dronne, officially listed as one of “The Most Beautiful Villages in France”. During the summer, the village is a thriving community with butchers, banks, coffee shops and restaurants. You can meander through the narrow hilly streets lined with lime trees and beautiful floral displays bursting with colour.
It also boasts some impressive historical monuments including the monolithic church, which is well worth a visit. From the terrace outside the Chateau, one can look down onto the river beach. This is the perfect place to spend a family day with children’s play areas and a bar providing drinks and snacks. The river naturally lends itself to water sports including wild swimming, stand-up paddleboarding and kayaking.
Here you can take life as slow or as fast as you like. From the plentiful activities on offer, as well as the many business opportunities for people looking to earn incomes, this is the perfect place for many to settle. And with great transport links from the UK, including two airports within easy reach and a day drive from the tunnel or ferry, the area provides a very attractive proposition.
Prices for property here are around €1,394 per m².
The Haute Vienne in West-Central France, named after the River Vienne, is one of the most popular and reasonably priced areas. Benefitting from a mild climate, winters can be snowy but summers tend to be beautiful and very hot, influenced by proximity to the Massif Central.
The pretty market town of Bellac is a typical French picture-postcard vista. Its beautiful bridge crosses the glistening water of the Vincou river. The town is overlooked by its ancient Notre-dame church, around which are nestled houses, and was the birthplace of the writer Jean Giraudoux born in 1882, whose home is now a museum.
But the town is far from being old-fashioned. It is proud to host the annual festival dedicated to jazz and theatre (in July). Bellac is a great option for good value property. It’s relatively small and peaceful but provides all the amenities one could need including shops, a theatre and a cinema. It also attracts a fair tourists, so is an option for anyone considering offering holiday rentals.
Prices for property here are incredibly good value at around €950 per m².
A hidden gem in the Languedoc in the South of France, Narbonne attracts people with its sleepy and relaxed atmosphere. Home to a large permanent overseas community, over the summer months the numbers are doubled by second homeowners.
For ramblers and nature lovers, this really is the place to be
The many fishing ports along the region’s coast offer beautiful days out, with restaurants and cafes overlooking the ports and the beaches. For ramblers and nature lovers, this really is the place to be! The étangs on the outskirts provide superb walking opportunities. This comes with the added highlight of flamingo watching particularly in the area between la Nautique and Gruissan.
For an area rightly proud of its wine production (mainly red), what could be better than exploring the wine producing regions? Take a trip to the hills of the Clappe that overlook the Mediterranean, Minervois, Corbieres and Fitou.!
Overlooked by the beautiful cathedral which stands in the centre of the city, its layout is dominated by the Canal du Robin. Little boat trips here are an absolute must. The Halles in Narbonne is open every morning selling fresh produce such as fish, meat, fruit and veg. Numerous other stalls and bars feature, whilst the main market day is on Sunday.
Getting here is easy too. Served by several airports with direct links to the UK and within proximity of other large towns, this is the perfect place to while away your time. It’s more expensive than the other affordable towns and villages covered in this article, but we think the higher price is worth it.
Prices for property here average around €1,800 per m² for an apartment and for houses €2,141 per m².
Situated in the Pyrénées-Orientales (also known as Northern Catalonia), this area reaps the benefit of its proximity to Spain. The heady mix of Spanish and French culture and influence is one of its biggest charms. Known for its wine production and tourism, over a quarter of its inhabitants live within the capital of Perpignan.
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The draw of Perpignan is obvious. It has a typically Mediterranean climate of very hot summers and fairly mild winters and is close to Spain, the coast and the mountains.
With a beautifully preserved centre, Perpignan has earned the title of “City of Art and History”.
Steeped in heritage with a beautifully preserved centre, Perpignan has earned the title of “City of Art and History”. A bustling city, it’s known for its university and for being an important economic centre. It’s easily accessible amenities are offset by the stunning countryside surrounding it, making it a very attractive place to settle.
Spain is also very close, so the opportunity to shop there for lower prices and visit regularly for a change of scenery is certainly a nice option to have! Many retirees chose to spend their summers here and their winters in neighbouring Spain. Prices are also still reasonably low compared to surrounding areas in the South. Perpignan certainly deserves the accolade of one of the best affordable towns and villages in France.
Property prices here for houses average around €1,753 per m²
Based in the Midi-Pyrenees, facing the Pyrenean mountains within the Garonne River valley, Saint Gaudens was originally the capital city of the Haute -Garonne, until the development of Toulouse. This small town and its pretty cobbled streets offers everything one needs.
There are plenty of local amenities and a wealth of shops, cafes, schools, as well as a hospital centre. More than 30,000 years old, this town is steeped in history and is a magical place for architecture lovers. A thriving yet relaxed environment makes it a real contender for one of the most affordable towns and villages in France.
Property prices here for houses average around €1,280 per m².