Fancy somewhere with a coastal vibe? Beautiful Brittany’s Côtes-d’Armor is easy to get to, but Var has (almost) year-round sun. Which one to choose?
Known for its historic towns and colourful shoreline, which takes in the Pink Granite Coast and the Emerald Coast, this département in Northern Brittany has a tranquillity and charm that has been delighting British buyers for decades. Visitors – from both sides of the Channel – flock to its capital Saint-Brieuc, which is characterised by half-timbered houses and sandy beaches.
Property here tends to be cheaper than elsewhere in Brittany but head inland for the best buys. For instance, in and around Dinan, you’ll find plenty of typical Brittany properties to drool over from Breton longères to quaint stone town houses and chaumières (thatched cottages).
Transport links between Côtes-d’Armor and the UK are good, with ferries operating from Plymouth to Roscoff and Portsmouth to SaintMalo. There are also services to Normandy ports: Cherbourg, Caen and Le Havre. Direct flights run to Dinard, Brest and Rennes.
With its location on the north coast of Brittany, Côtes-d’Armor can be cloudy and wet – even in summer. Temperatures can drop below freezing in winter, though it tends to be mild, with little snow.
As is usually the case, property nearer the coast and major towns is more pricey, so if you’re looking for a bargain, head inland and check out smaller settlements such as Loudeac, where prices are lower and you’ll find affordable renovation projects. Inland, a traditional stone doer-upper can cost as little as €50,000-€70,000, while you can find neo-Breton houses in good condition for less than €100,000. Property with land and gîte potential will set you back €150,000 plus.
Explore the coastline and glorious countryside of this colourful corner of France on foot or by bike. Try one of the several golf courses here or, for a spot of twitching, head to the Bay of Saint-Brieuc, a nature reserve and bird watcher’s paradise. Kayaking, canoeing and boat tours are popular too.
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Like Côtes-d’Armor, Var is a coastal département, though its warm climate and resorts on the Med’s charismatic Côte d’Azur give it a certain cachet. Away from glitzy Saint-Tropez, you’ll find hidden coves, quiet sandy beaches and a gloriously unspoilt hinterland waiting to be discovered. Var is Provence without the crowds. It’s not a million miles away from the Peter Mayle-esque landscapes we’ve come to associate with the region, but property can be found here at more affordable prices.
Central Var is a property hunter’s paradise with its beautiful vineyards and typical Provence towns such as Lorgues, Cotignac or Salerne. If you want a coastal resort without the hefty Saint-Tropez price tag, try Toulon or the pretty historic town of Hyères to the west, or further east there’s Fréjus.
International travel is convenient thanks to the département’s Toulon-Hyères airport, while Marseille Provence and Nice Côte D’Azur airports are also nearby (Nice is France’s third busiest). By TGV, Toulon is just 4 hours 20 minutes from Paris.
Var enjoys a warm and sunny Mediterranean climate with mild winters. It tends to be drier here than the Alpes-Maritimes, and can be windy – although along the coast to the east, around Fréjus, it is more sheltered.
In Saint-Tropez, property can be eyewateringly expensive. If sea views aren’t a priority for you, then head just a short distance inland to get more for your money. However, a two-bedroom seaview apartment in one of the many pretty towns along the coast away from Saint-Tropez can be yours for €350,000. Four-bedroom mas with pool further inland range from €350,000-€550,000, bigger character properties cost upwards of €600,000, while the sky’s the limit for a sprawling poolside pad near Saint-Tropez.
If you don’t want to join the sun-seekers on the Var’s beaches, there’s plenty of other things to do including water sports galore. Head to Hyères and explore its historic centre with château and parks, or the national navy museum at Toulon or get a bird’s-eye view of this bustling coastal town on a cable car trip to Mont Faron.
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