Escaping the sun’s glare on the village square in Cazals, northeast of Cahors, I’m sipping a post-lunch coffee with Alice Loftie who, alongside husband Charles, is a FrenchEntrée Estate Agent Partner in this sleepy Lot village. On the walls, there are sun-kissed photos of typical Lotoise homes for sale – I spy plenty of classically swoonsome pigeonniers, large pale stone hideaways often constructed in an L-shape, with converted outbuildings now serving as comfortable living spaces. I daydream about one day setting up my own little piece of French heaven in this tranquil corner of the Midi-Pyrénées.
Alice describes her region with the kind of instant, on-tap knowledge that only comes with years of experience in the localised French property industry and being an integral part of the community. I ask firstly about life in the local area and what makes it so appealing to buyers.
“I think the things that most attract people to the Lot are its architecture and the natural beauty of the region with its varied landscapes within one department: vineyards, rolling hills, rivers with dramatic cliffs and underground caves and caverns, troglodytic dwellings and hilltop villages with stunning views, pigeonniers and chateaux, wild Causse country, unspoilt woodland, sunflower meadows. I could go on!”
“Please do!” I mutter encouragingly.
“The markets overbrimming with locally grown produce such as foie gras, walnuts, cabécou goat’s cheese and truffles, and there are excellent restaurants offering great value. Also important to understand is that there is a feeling that people are not in a rush here and they offer a friendly welcome. Oh, and the climate is not bad either!”
I’ve seen the sleepy scene in the main square and wonder if there’s plenty to do for anyone who decides to make this region their new home. “There is so much to do here sports-wise for starters. Country treks, riding, cycling, paragliding and caving,” adds Alice. “Then there are great events such as jazz in Souillac, Gindou film festival, Cahors Blues Festival and the Sarlat film festival.”
“It’s so culturally rich here, with lots of historical intrigue from medieval times and the 100 years war. There are some lovely bastide villages and we have a Sunday market with a buzzy atmosphere, even in winter. Personally I think the best times of year are May-June and September-October – these are also the perfect times to visit.” Let’s just say I’m sold on the idea already.
Here are Alice’s top five tips for prospective buyers:
1. Study your finances carefully.
2. Understand the buying process in France, and know that notaire fees are in addition to the buying price.
3. Work out in your mind what you want from your new life in France, what your priorities are.
4. The more French you speak, you more you will enjoy France.
5. Get involved in local events. Join a choir, do yoga. Scratch the surface and you’ll find plenty to do.
Start your own property search in Lot, Dordogne, Lot-et-Garonne and Tarn-et–Garonne by browsing our property database. Or let us help with our search by contacting us on +00 44 1225 463752 or emailing us at [email protected].
Read the second part of this guide here.