You’re looking for a place to call your own within easy reach of the UK, but which Normandy destination should you choose – La Manche or Calvados? We compare and contrast two popular buying locations.
Some of us roll off the ferry at Cherbourg and Saint-Malo and immediately head south, bypassing the delights of this glorious part of France. Others have discovered its hidden treasures and make the most of its close proximity to the UK. Pricing for coastal properties tends to be higher than for those inland, but you can still snap up a bargain on the Contentin or Cherbourg peninsula. You will see quite a difference between prices in coastal Manche compared to the more expensive département of Calvados. Hotspots for property hunters in Manche include Avranches and Saint-Lo.
Getting to La Manche from the UK is a doddle. The bustling port of Cherbourg sits on its tip and you can travel here from Portsmouth, Dublin or Rosslare. Saint-Malo and Caen are also close at hand, with ferry links to Weymouth/Poole too. There are airports at nearby Dinard and Rennes.
This far northern département is not known for its sunny weather and, being coastal, it enjoys an oceanic climate. The western flank of the peninsula has its own micro-climate though, meaning spring and autumn are slightly milder here than on its eastern side.
Expect to pay from €250,000 to €300,000 for property within walking distance of the beach in areas like Hauteville-sur-Mer. Prices rise as you head south along the coast towards Granville and Avranches. Further inland – yet still within easy reach of the coast, in areas like Gavray – pricing is more reasonable and village houses can be found starting at €125,000. Traditional stone farmhouses with land cost from €200,000. Renovation fans can pick up a bargain from €50,000.
Attractions and Activities
Step back in time with a visit to the iconic Mont Saint-Michel and its abbey museum, where you can see manuscipts dating from the 8th century. Seaside resort Granville is a must, too – take a dip in its tidal swimming pools. Explore the coast on foot, by bike or on horseback, there’s loads to see.
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Giving its name to the famous apple (or pear) brandy produced here, this verdant département ticks the boxes for many UK buyers. Considering its proximity to Paris and the south coast of England, Calvados still boasts some relatively undiscovered areas, providing property and countryside ideal for equestrian lovers and outdoor enthusiasts. While house prices in some places are lower compared to other areas of France, expect to pay a premium the closer you are to good access to the UK and the gorgeous Calvados coastline. Parisians have long flocked to its Belle Époque seaside resorts such as Deauville and Honfleur and many have second homes here.
Like La Manche, Calvados is ideally placed for ferry links. The port of Caen has regular services to Portsmouth, while Le Harvre, also serving Portsmouth, is just a short drive east along the coast and Cherbourg to the northwest. If you did want to fly, Calvados is just that little bit nearer to Paris with its rail links to towns including Caen and Bayeux.
Calvados has an oceanic climate like its neighbour. Expect the sort of weather we get in the south of England – warm summers with some rain between the sunny spells and mild winters, windy with some snow.
Property prices in Calvados tend to be higher than in neighbouring La Manche, but of course if you look further south, towards areas like Vire and Saint-Sever, you can still find a lot for your budget. Rural properties with land start from €150,000 and houses with gîtes can cost from €180,000-€200,000 upwards. In the pretty port town of Honfleur, colombage-style properties can be found from €200,000, while timber-framed town houses inland will be cheaper.
Attractions and Activities
With its shoreline including the D-Day Landing beaches, Calvados is very popular with those wishing to pay their respects to the soldiers and others who played their part. The coast is dotted with memorials, heritage trails and museums. Inland, you can visit historic Bayeux with its famous tapestry or enjoy a dégustation or two of the eponymous brandy.
Lead photo credit : Land surrounding Saint-Malo © Mont St.Michel, Shutterstock
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