Guide to property prices and locations in and around Carcassonne
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The historic city of Carcassonne and its surrounding area continues to draw property investors, keen to explore the options in this increasingly popular tourist destination. Indeed, thanks to improved transport links and a forward-thinking municipal government, Carcassonne is seeing an upsurge in investment aimed at improving the city’s facilities and infrastructure, and enabling visitors and residents to take advantage of all the city and the region has to offer. For many, of course, the main draw of Carcassonne is its medieval fortified old town, the Cité, which is listed as an UNESCO World Heritage site. The fairy-tale towers and ramparts attract hundreds of thousands of visitors every year, and the City is the venue par excellence for many of Carcassonne’s cultural events including the annual Bastille Day fireworks (one the largest fireworks displays in Europe) and the Festival de la Cité, an important international arts festival.
However, despite the fact that roughly 200 people still currently reside in the City, it does tend to have a whiff of the tourist attraction about it. The lower town known as the Bastide, is where Carcassonne life really happens: its narrow streets in grid formation around its heart – Place Carnot – is where the weekly market takes place and off of which you will find a wealth of bars, cafés, restaurants and boutiques. The lower town is where you will find the Canal du Midi – another UNESCO World Heritage site – winding past the edge of the Bastide towards the plains of the Minervois. The Bastide is also seeing a renaissance, with improved parking facilities, its own summer Festival de la Bastide and Winter Festival amongst the annual events highlights.
As the capital of the Aude department, Carcassonne is now comfortably competing with other Languedoc Roussillon cities in offering luxury facilities – within the city and its surrounds there is a growing number of boutique hotels, Michelin starred restaurants, designer stores and first class sports facilities such as the golf course. Carcassonne’s other great draw is the wealth of unspoilt medieval villages and stunning variety of countryside around it. Within an hour from Carcassonne are the golden sandy beaches of the Mediterranean, thousands of acres of vineyards producing many award-wining wines, the wilds of the Black Mountains and the Corbieres hills, the rolling wheat fields of the Lauragais, the forested foothills of the Pyrenees, several astonishing medieval castles and the cosmopolitan city of Toulouse.
Carcassonne is easily accessed from the UK, Ireland and Belgium via Ryanair, currently the sole carrier to Carcassonne Airport which is located 10 minutes outside the city centre. There are several airlines operating international routes at Toulouse airport, and Beziers airport is also just an hour away. The A61 motorway crosses the Aude department, just south of Carcassonne with junctions 23 and 24 exiting to the Bastide and airport or the medieval city respectively.
Thanks to the Ryanair and all that Carcassonne offers, property agents report that business is brisk with an influx of Irish property buyers flying in from Dublin and Shannon and many young expatriate families downshifting to the area. This tourist hotspot makes for a thriving, though competitive, environment for the holiday rental market. For those seeking a permanent move with children, local amenities become more important: Carcassonne has all the usual amenities that you would expect from a medium sized city, with a number of public and private colleges and lycées, the department’s main hospital, and all the major brand retailers located in the zones industrielles on the outskirts of the city.
Property prices in Carcassonne and its surrounds remain fairly competitive – and are amongst the lower end of the scale in the region as a whole. However, prospective buyers must be realistic about the nature of the architecture here. More houses tend to be rendered rather than exposed stone, and as the majority of houses in the centre of towns or villages do not have extensive gardens, you will pay a premium for outside space. Carcassonne itself has a majority of town houses converted into apartments, sometimes with access to an interior courtyard or with balconies/ terraces. Fully renovated apartments range from about €50,000 – €90,000 for a studio, to upwards of €130,000 for one with 3 bedrooms. Houses in Carcassonne are more rare, and can range from upwards of €200,000 depending on size and the amount of renovation required. There are also a good number of interesting investment opportunities in Carcassonne for those willing to engage in large-scale renovation work, with a view of targeting the luxury holiday market.
There is a wider range of properties available in the towns and villages outside of Carcassonne where you can find smaller properties in need of serious renovation for €80,000 – €100,000. If doing major building work is not how you want to spend your summer holiday, then you should budget between €125,000 and €170,000 for a three bedroom property in good condition (possibly with a terrace or small garden). Larger period properties with good sized gardens or courtyards can be found for €200,000 and above. Also worth bearing in mind is that most towns and villages have new build lotissements (estates) on their outskirts, and whilst modern houses may not necessarily correspond to the ideal “dream home in the south of France”, they are more likely to have large gardens. Because of its winemaking and farming history, this area is also particularly good for very large prestige properties: expect to pay upwards of €300,000 for an elegant, fully renovated, four bedroom maison de vignerons with gardens, and over €600,000 for fully renovated, large-scale farmhouses with gite complexes, gardens and swimming pool.
In conclusion, it is true to say that there is definitely something to fit every budget in Carcassonne and its surrounds! With everything the city has going for it, one would expect demand for property in Carcassonne to remain strong. As the region’s popularity grows and Carcassonne continues to prosper, it remains to be seen if the property market continues to deliver value for money.
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