Somewhere amid the lush valleys, fields of sunflowers and honey- hued villages of Lot-et-Garonne in France’s sunny southwest, you might well find your perfect French home, says Annaliza Davis…
Tucked away in southwest France, the Lot-et-Garonne is famous for broad. lazy rivers and medieval villages scattered throughout a spacious, fertile landscape.
The scenery of sunflower fields, riverside market towns and distant hilltop villages is so French, you’d think a film director had set it up: there’s no other place you could be. The climate is renowned for offering warmth in summer (14°C to 27°C) but mild, oceanic winters with temperatures of 2ºC to 9°C. You’re sure to find likeminded folks here, as 30% are aged 29 or less, 35% are between 30 and 59, and the remainder are aged 60 and over.
Living in Lot-et-Garonne puts you within easy reach of Bordeaux and Toulouse, offering all their advantages without the crush of city life. In terms of property, this means townhouses, studio apartments, larger farmhouses and family homes with generous gardens. There’s space to stretch, with 62 residents per square kilometre 0106 being the national average) and it’s a popular place to live, as 82% of homes are main residences.
For investors, it’s worth knowing that 37% of Lot- et-Garonne households are occupied by one person; 80% of properties are houses: (typically with four or five rooms); 20% are apartments (with typically two or three rooms); and a garage is a bonus, as 89% of households have at least one car, with 40% having two or more vehicles.
House hunting, investing, relocating whatever your reasons for looking into property, the Lot-et-Garonne offers a lot of choice and a lot of space for your budget.
MATCH THE PLACE TO YOUR POCKET
In France, the average cost for property sits at €2.749/m² yet properties in Lot-et- Garonne cost much less than that at €1,796/m”, and can drop to below €800/min some of the more rural spots. Neighbourhoods around the main town of Agen cost more (up to €2.100/m) and there are other hotspots scattered throughout the region, but careful research will ensure you find the property you want within your budget.
LOCATION: WHERE TO FIND WHAT YOU WANT
You won’t find any major cities in Lot-et-Garonne, but its capital Agen has a population of 33,000 (similar to Barnstaple in Devon) and a larger catchment area of 150,000 residents. An historic town of terracotta rooftops, Agen houses a diverse range of businesses from food processing to pharmaceuticals, as well as 3,000 university students.
A 20m studio starts at around £55,000, which would rent out at around €300 per month. In Villeneuve-sur-Lest (population 24,000) your €55,000 buys you a bigger apartment of 34m but the return would be similar. The smaller yet popular town of Marmande (population 18,000), is known for its sacred architecture and is praised by locals for the quality of life it offers and its proximity to Bordeaux. You can buy an apartment in this riverside town for less than €30,000, making it an accessible and attractive option for this part of France.
Being Inland, Lot-et Garonne has no coast, but it does have the two rivers after which it is named and 200km of waterways, so you will find plenty of riverside towns and properties. A budget of €150,000 puts you in range of a modest village home with river views, while €250,000 or more means you could buy a former watermill or riverside house with a pool.
Perhaps you’re dreaming of a quaint picturesque village? Try Monflanquin, Pujols-le- Haut and Villeréal, which have been officially recognised as three of France’s most beautiful villages. A three-bedroom home with garden within walking distance of Monflanquin’s pretty streets costs just €148,500; while in Villeréal, €95,000 buys you a riverside home to renovate or €258,100 can secure you a beautifully maintained home within easy walking distance of the village centre.
The countryside here offers countless opportunities under €70,000, from homes in tiny hamlets to isolated stone farms with 1,200m of land surrounded by open views. You can choose just how rural you want to be, but many, of these properties are still within easy 30-minute reach of an international airport or train station, which keeps your options very much open.
If you’re open to minor renovations, €50,000 will buy a three-bedroom townhouse that is structurally sound in the village of Monbahus, an hour north of Agen, while C100,000 buys a detached six-bedroom property in Villeréal C0 minutes from Bergerac that only needs modernising and has scope for a separate annexe.
As for building plots, you would only need £16,000 to buy a 1,000m plot with outline planning permission near Eymet, 30 minutes from Bergerac, and there are hundreds of plots to choose from throughout the region in almost every price range.
If you spot a property at an incredibly low price, check it isn’t listed as viager, because this means that it comes with a sitting tenant and therefore an additional set of paperwork and conditions that you need to respect as the new landlord.
EMPLOYMENT AND THE ECONOMY
Overall, it’s a positive picture for employment in Lot-et- Garonne. Among the working population, 49% are women and there’s an even spread between manual workers, salaried staff and those in middle management.
About 8% of the population are officially retired and 14% unemployed (a third of whom are aged 15-24). Locals seem to prefer long-term employment, as only 8% are freelancers and 12% fixed-term contracts. The largest work sector is commerce and services at 40%, with the health service, teaching and public sector employing 34%, industry at 12%, then agriculture and construction both about 7%.
Flights from Paris to Agen take 90 minutes, and if you prefer train travel, it’s three hours. By car, you’re well connected thanks to the A62, which links Lot-et-Garonne with Bordeaux and Toulouse, offering more options for train connections and airports. The closest airports for UK flights are Bordeaux, Bergerac and Toulouse.
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