The Pyrenees is a spectacular mountain range spanning around 430 kilometres between France and Spain. And maybe one of the many towns and villages of the Pyrenees could be your perfect place to settle!
Could the Pyrenees be the perfect place for you?
Forming the divide between France and Spain, with the tiny state of Andorra in between, the Pyrenees (named according to Greek Mythology after the princess Pyrene) covers several departments in France. From East to West: Pyrénées-Orientales, Aude, Ariège, Haute-Garonne, Hautes- Pyrénées and Pyrénées-Atlantiques with the Pyrénées National Park situated within the latter two. As the point where climatic influences of the Atlantic meet the Mediterranean, the National Park is home to a diverse range of flora and fauna. It is one of 11 National Parks in France (3 of which are based overseas).
Steeped in history and folklore, the Pyrenees is most certainly a hive of activity. No matter what your interest, with so many beautiful towns and villages to explore, there is a perfect place for everyone.
The draw of the Pyrenees
For nature or snow lovers, there is simply no better place to be. Providing a more wild, natural view of the country, the area is home to some of the most pristine landscapes in France. It provides the perfect habitat for rare species of animals, including some that are endangered. If you fancy a bear hunt, here may be the place to spot a brown bear! For ramblers, this area is pure heaven – adorned with hiking trails along the length of the range. For others, the attraction of the area is the skiing, with peak season between November and March. With both the Atlantic and Mediterranean within easy reach (depending on where you are) sea lovers are also not forgotten here. The other draw is the climate – with cool springs, dry hot summers, sunny autumns and snowy cold winters.
Due to the level of tourism in this area, there are many opportunities for holiday accommodation and tourism related services. This could be within hospitality or outdoor activities services. This is another of the many reasons that make it an attractive proposition for expats to settle and build their lives and their businesses here.
Below are just a few of our favourite towns and villages of the Pyrenees.
Within the Pyrénées-Atlantiques department, nestled in the Pyrenean foothills is this important commune. The starting point for the “French Way”, the most popular route for travelling the Camino de Santiago, this was where pilgrims would meet from their various original starting points in France. It also serves as the last stop before the beginning of the arduous mountain crossing they would then undertake. The town’s layout comprises of one main street encircled by sandstone walls. It is also only 5 miles from the Spanish border, on the River Nive.
Steeped in history, but having become an important tourist site, the town boasts many cafes, bars and restaurants, as well as hotels and holiday accommodation. The other attraction of visiting here is its proximity to the popular tourist seaside city of Biarritz. Biarritz is known for its casinos, surfing culture and the Hôtel du Palais, which was originally built for Empresse Eugenie as her summer villa.
Property here will cost you an average of 2,029 € per m² for houses, slightly less for an apartment.
Make sure you’re prepared for a viewing trip with the tips and tricks from our Viewing Trip guide.
Based in the Hautes-Pyrénées sits Saint-Savin, a community founded in the fourth Century as a Benedictine Abbey under the protection of St. Martin. Forming part of the Pyrénées National Park, it is deeply proud of its cultural and landscape heritage. The dedication to preservation through numerous sustainability initiatives is admirable and necessary. Although a small village of well under 500 inhabitants, it is a lively place. There are services, schools, hotels, restaurants and cafes ready to welcome visitors. The enviable location between Lourdes and Cauterets makes it the perfect base from which to explore the other towns and villages of the Pyrenees.
Property prices here average 2,051 € per m² for houses and slightly more for an apartment.
One of the most well-known towns and villages of the Pyrenees is Cauterets. It’s located 32km south west of Lourdes, based within the Hautes-Pyrénées and bordered by the Pyrenees National Park. The area is a walker’s paradise with hiking trails and equally a nature lover’s paradise. The other attraction of this town is its many thermal springs of sulphur and silicate of soda, known for the treatment of several ailments including respiratory diseases, skin diseases and rheumatism. One of the “must-dos” during any visit to Cauterets is to take the cable car and chairlift to “Cirque du Lys”. This is a trip which not only provides breath taking views during the ride, but then an inspiring walk via Lac d’Ilheou. The walk takes you down through rolling countryside back to Cauterets.
With popularity comes increased prices and property, so here will cost you an average of 2,320 € per m².
If you are ready to buy in France within the next few months, call our friendly France Resource Team on 020 7898 0549 or email France@propertyguides.com.
A small village located in the department of Ariège, at 280 metres above sea level, this village is crossed by no less than 3 rivers. The medieval form of this village is particularly interesting. It is circular and an entirely intact build around the central focal point of the Church – a rare sight indeed.
Property here is exceptionally good value and will cost you an average of 1,432 € per m².
Providing a wild, natural view of the country, the area is home to some of the most pristine landscapes in France.
Based in the Aude department is Quillan, a town renowned for water sports. Thanks to the River Aude which runs through it, there’s white water rafting, kayaking, fishing and canoeing on offer. Located on the road between Perpignan and Carcassone, this picturesque town boasts a magnificent surrounding vista of rolling countryside, sunflowers and vines with the snow-capped mountains in the distance. Originally famous for hat making and the production of Formica, this town has adapted itself to its new tourist status. It is now more known for its many opportunities for outdoor pursuits.
In August, Quillan plays host to the “Folklore Festival” where musicians, dancers and singers perform in the town square. It’s proximity to the beaches of the Mediterranean (just over an hour away), Perpignan and Toulouse entice many a visitor here. So, it offers good business and employment opportunities for those choosing to settle here. There is also opportunity to connect with fellow expats and locals for socialising.
For a town of such popularity, property prices are surprisingly reasonable here, costing an average of 1,166 € per m² for houses, substantially less for an apartment.
All in all, with surroundings and activities to suit everyone, as well as the employment and business opportunities (within the tourist industry and otherwise), the wonderful towns and villages of the Pyrenees truly offer a wide range of scope for people looking to settle permanently in this area of natural outstanding beauty.