There are many reasons why the Languedoc-Roussillon area of the south of France is eternally popular. The very name conjures up an image of sun, blue skies, golden light, miles of sandy beaches, beautiful towns and villages, tremendous history, Mediterranean food… But it is not just an image: this area really does have it all!
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The unspoilt south of France
The Languedoc-Roussillon is the true south of France: that is to say it lies directly to the south. The ever-popular area of Provence Alpes Cote d’Azur lies slightly to the east – and of course is way more expensive when it comes to property buying. So let us focus here on the many delights of the Languedoc-Roussillon and why it is still – and probably will always be – one of the most popular areas in France in which to buy property.
The region consists of five departments: the Herault, the Gard, the Aude, Lozere and the Pyrénées Orientales. With over 200 km of coastline, the largest number of vineyards in the world and a fabulous climate, there is a huge attraction to this area for us all.
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History tells us that the area was fought over during medieval times by the Romans and Greeks and indeed they have left their legacy here with so many incredible monuments such as the UNESCO World Heritage Site of the Cité of Carcassonne in the Aude, the Pont du Gard and the many ancient Cathar castles often perched high on a hill, making us wonder how on earth they were built and have stood the test of so much time.
This is a land which exhibits its fascinating history as well as its charm wherever you go. Stretching from the Spanish border along the Mediterranean coast to the Camargue and French Riviera, you would be hard pressed to find anywhere which isn’t either beautiful or of worthy of historical merit.
An unbeatable lifestyle
If you are looking for the laid-back, sunshine lifestyle which so many of us equate with France in general, this is the area for you. The capital city is Montpellier, which is a vibrant, young city with super restaurants, great night life, superb architecture and wonderful for shopping too. Take a look also at the Roman city of Narbonne: you can see the ancient Roman road well preserved in the centre of the town near the cathedral and the Canal du Midi runs right through it.
If you are looking for the laid-back, sunshine lifestyle which so many of us equate with France in general, this is the area for you.
If you are looking for smaller towns and villages, take a look at both Collioure and Port Vendres, both seaside ports and incredibly pretty. Collioure is famous for its anchovies: a lovely place, albeit very popular with tourists in the summer time. Just a couple of kilometres down the road is Port Vendres: a working fishing village with some superb restaurants. Also recommended is Ceret, a gorgeous tree lined small town where Picasso once lived. If you like pottering around, perhaps stopping at an al fresco restaurant for lunch, this is the place for you.
Climate wise, this is an area with very hot dry summers, pleasant autumns and springs and cold but not freezing winters. We enjoy over 320 days of sunshine per year. Even in the cooler months, it is rare to have a dull cloudy sky: we have eaten outside during Christmas time here!
Interestingly, the word Languedoc derives from the Occitan language which is still spoken here by older folk (don’t expect to understand a single word though, even if your French is good!). “Oc” means “yes” in Occitan.
Affordable property prices
Property-wise, it is still perfectly possible to find a bolt hole here for under €100,000. The Ozère is the cheapest department, with a median property price of €1060/m2, but consider also the Herault, although homes are more expensive for the seaside location, at €2390/m2, and the Pyrénées-Orientales in the south, at €1,830/m2.
Property prices in France are stable, but the exchange markets make buying in sterling a lot more unstable. Find out how to make safe international transfers in The Property Buyer’s Guide to Currency.
Property prices have remained more or less stable for twelve years here, so, especially with the greater volatility impacting the UK housing market, this is a fantastic market to invest in. If you are up for a project, you will be able to find something well under €100,000 and €200,000 or more will enable you to buy a decent renovated character house with a little outside space.
The wine industry is huge of course and wherever you venture here you will see rows upon rows of vineyards with some excellent wines at reasonable prices. Once thought of as the workhorse of the French wine industry, the area has raised its profile recently and is well respected worldwide.
A welcoming community
You will find the people here to be very friendly indeed with no prejudice at all against the British. The area has become so popular with British people who are generally keener than the French on taking on a renovation project. Indeed we often hear people talking about “le style anglais” when it comes to dressing a house!
As far as cuisine goes, there is a huge choice on the menu from seafood to duck and chicken dishes as well as foie gras and “tapenade” which is a kind of olive paste. Don’t forget to try out a tasty cassoulet, basically a hearty stew made of goose, duck, sausage and beans, often topped with breadcrumbs. This peasant dish originated in the town of Castelnaudary and each town has its own variation of the dish.
Being in close proximity to the coast, the mountains and Spain and with a great choice of airports serving the UK, the Languedoc Roussillon can justifiably be proud of its area. It really has so much going for it, not just the constant sunshine!