The Mediterranean, the mountains, fabulous weather, countless vineyards and attractive house prices. Annaliza Davis looks into the many pluses of house buying in Languedoc-Roussillon…
This is one of those southern regions overshadowed by its glitzy sisters, the French Riviera and Provence, so it’s unlikely you could point Languedoc-Roussillon on a map unless you already live here. It has something of a split personality: Haut Languedoc is a mountainous area in the middle of southern France that includes part of the Massif Central, while the flatter Bas Languedoc lies along the coast towards Spain and is more popular with tourists.
Since 2016, Languedoc- Roussillon has been part of the wider Occitanie region. The whole area is renowned for its strong cultural heritage, partly thanks to its Occitan language and Catalan roots, but also the medieval Cathar castles and the countless examples of glorious Roman architecture throughout the region, most memorably in Nimes, home to an incredible Roman arena.
The departments within Languedoc-Roussillon are Aude, Gard, Hérault, Pyrénées- Orientales and Lozère, and the key cities are Montpellier, Nimes, Carcassonne and Perpignan. This is a location that offers the advantages of the Mediterranean climate without the high-rise zones. Similarly, if you dream of living in the mountains, this could be the way to do it as Pyrénéan resorts can be a lot cheaper than those in the Alps and offer similar year- round options.
You have to visit to understand how diverse this region is, from snowy ski resorts to a beach in Béziers or the peaceful towpaths of the Canal du Midi; there’s an incredible variety to choose from. As for property, whether it’s rural retreats, palatial coastal homes, quaint village houses, city studio flats or vast equestrian estates you’re after, this area has the lot!
MATCH THE PLACE TO YOUR POCKET
If having plenty of space is important to you, the inland area of Lozère has an average of only 15 residents per square kilometre, followed by Aude (58), then Pyrénées-Orientales (109), Gard (121) and Hérault (168), although in Montpellier itself this rockets to 5,195/km².
In terms of price, the national average has now risen to €3.302/m² while in Languedoc- Roussillon, properties cost an average of €2,726/m². There are huge variations depending on location though: in Aude, the average is €2.133 with some older homes at under €495/ m², while in Hérault a coastal property south of Montpellier will cost €5,254/m², so a modest 50m² apartment will set you back around €250,000.
LOCATION: WHERE TO FIND WHAT YOU WANT
Broadly speaking, you’ll pay more for a property the closer you are to Provence or the coast, although city-living in Montpellier is also expensive, €4,000-€5,000/m² in the historic centre and areas to the east. A tiny 20m² studio flat in Montpellier starts at €75,000, but rents out for upwards of €395 a month, whereas in Nimes you can buy something similar for around €50,000 and rent it out for €300 a month.
Head to Perpignan and even a 15m² studio flat (smaller than a single garage) sells for €33,000 while in Collioure an 18m² studio costs a jaw- dropping €121,800-but that’s the cost of living in an historic town on the chic Mediterranean coast. In Sète, a 72m² apartment within walking distance of the beach will cost €400,000 or a 114m² flat in Marseillan with loggia and much-prized parking space will cost €521,000. But imagine the views!
There are seven main ski resorts in the area: Font Romeau, Les Angles, Cerdagne Puigmal, Formigueres, Cambre d’Aze, Puyvalador and Porté Puymorens. In the costly resort of Les Angles, you’ll pay €360,000 for a 77m² apartment, while the same budget in Formiguères can buy you a six-bedroom, detached chalet.
For a truly historic setting, it’s hard to beat the ever- popular Carcassonne, which attracts 1.8 million tourists a year. Generally, properties sell quickly and sell high here, but do take the time to hunt around: a three-bedroom bungalow near the centre with 1,000m² gardens can be found for €235,000 or a two-storey townhouse for €139,000.
The cheapest spots in Languedoc-Roussillon are generally in Lozère – where you can buy a 100m² family home for around €130,000 – and the inland areas or those a little further from the cities and transport connections.
If you’re looking for a renovation project, spend €33,000 for a 180m²-village house in Saissac between Toulouse and Narbonne or push the budget to €119.500 for a four-bedroom farmhouse with 900m- of land in the heart of the protected parklands in Malbouzon.
Finally, for building plots, a budget of €50,000 will buy a ‘terrain viabilise‘ (with connected services) of 600m².
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