Annaliza Davis explores a region that offers the best of all worlds – whether you are seeking city-centre investment or looking for your own bit of heaven on Earth

Pays de la Loire boasts the best of France: fantastic coastlines, wonderful countryside, masses of culture and (of course) great cuisine. It’s perfectly placed for easy access from the UK, which is another good reason why the region is such a property hotspot. Each year, many Brits pack up their  belongings and head here for a slice of the good life.

Angers’s oldest house, built in about 1500, Maison d’Adam is decorated with bawdy wooden carvings

WHERE IS THE PAYS DE LA LOIRE?

This popular spot is in western France, to the south of Brittany. Named after the 800-mile-long river Loire that flows past elegant châteaux, vineyards and swathes of greenery, the region includes five départements: Loire-Atlantique, Maine-et-Loire, Mayenne, Sarthe and Vendée. Both Loire-Atlantique and Vendée are coastal, and these are the most sought-after areas, attracting 75 per cent of all new residents, plus huge numbers of tourists each summer.

So where is the best place to start your property search? Well it depends on the sort of thing you’re after. If you’re searching for city investments, dynamic Nantes (50km from the coast) offers tourism, industry and several university sites – as does Angers, which is popular for conferences and business events as it is fairly centrally located making it very accessible. Meanwhile, Le Mans (home of the endurance sports car race) is only one hour from Paris by rail, so it’s an attractive commuting option for professionals and indeed for regular cross-Channel breaks if you are planning to come by Eurostar.

Angers is a thriving working town with a healthy student population

If it’s a budget property that you’re seeking, look to the less-populated, inland areas such as Mayenne, which sits between Rennes and Le Mans – or the Sarthe département, which is the area surrounding Le Mans itself. As a general rule, you’ll get more for your money the further inland you  go, particularly if you’re happy living around 30 minutes away from a big city.

Coastal properties in Pays de la Loire are in high demand but you can find affordable pieds-à-terre, studio flats and holiday apartments – and even homes with a seaview can be snapped up for under €200,000. Hotspots along the coast include medieval Guérande and its shoreline neighbours – charming fishing village Piriac-sur-Mer, La Turballe and attractive ports Le Croisic and Pornichet – plus popular seaside resorts Pornic, Saint-Jean-de-Monts and Les Sables d’Olonne.

The island Île d’Yeu and the peninsula of Noirmoutier are also highly sought after with prices reflecting that. However, remember that although homes in chic resorts come at a premium, they do achieve higher rental prices in the long run.

This region is France’s top spot for horse-racing, with 49 racecourses, 600 trainers and 588 clubs. Saumur is home to the French National Horse-Riding School and the French military riding academy ‘Cadre Noir’, so unsurprisingly, there are many equestrian properties here. You could buy a house with over a hectare (2.47 acres) of land for €250,000 but with €500,000 you’ll have a choice of properties with paddocks, stables, guest accommodation and perhaps an existing income. Whether you’re moving here or investing, this equine interest is worth bearing in mind: properties near equestrian tourism sites or with facilities to accommodate horses will always attract a good share of the tourist market.

Angers’s ancient Quartier de la Doutre is packed with charming half-timbered properties

CITY-CENTRE INVESTMENTS

For those who prefer the bright lights, city-centre studio apartments start at around €50,000 in Nantes and Angers, and can be as low as €30,000 in Le Mans.  Remember to research the different areas and neighbourhoods, and check transport links.

For a straightforward family home, whether modern or character in style, a budget of €150,000 will give you plenty to choose from in Mayenne, but you’ll need around €300,000 for family house-hunting in the popular Loire-Atlantique. Prices in Maine-et-Loire, Sarthe and the Vendée fall somewhere in between the two.

Those looking for a community feel can find plenty of small market towns in Pays de la Loire, typically featuring a baker, a pharmacy, a hairdresser and a bar-tabac. Properties with no outside space will be cheaper and require minimal maintenance, but can be harder to rent out or to sell later on. Alternatively, one with a small courtyard can be an ideal lock-up-and-leave, with the bonus of a spot for your sun-lounger or bike.

It’s feasible to buy a tired townhouse for under €25,000 in rural areas and smaller towns; while a two-bedroom ready-to-move-into home starts at around €35,000 inland in Mayenne, Sarthe or Maine-et-Loire, but would cost from €60,000 in Loire-Atlantique and the Vendée. Character homes with period features, on the other hand, usually start at around €90,000.

Those looking to move here and enjoy a ready-made income can buy an existing holiday business. For example, a well-maintained country property with a separate two-bedroom gîte in Maine-et-Loire would cost around €250,000, while at the higher end of the market, an extensive gîte complex located in the Vendée would set you back around €840,000.

Finally, we must mention the white tuffeau stone of the Loire Valley, quarried for building elegant châteaux and manoirs. As a result, the landscape includes both natural caves and excavation holes – mostly along the river between Saumur and Montsoreau. It is estimated that until the 1800s these ‘troglodyte’ caves were home to as many as 50 per cent of Saumur’s population, but they were gradually abandoned until coming back into favour recently as heritage homes with ecological bonuses. You could buy a renovated troglodyte dwelling for under €150,000 and own a piece of history!

WHAT ARE THE MAIN PROPERTY TYPES IN THE PAYS DE LA LOIRE?

SINGLE-STOREY DWELLINGS

The market here features many detached bungalows known as ‘maisons de plein-pied’, which can be a good option for a permanent move or if you’re looking ahead to retirement. You’ll also notice ‘pavillons’: modest family homes often located on newer estates on the edge of small towns, sometimes with cormer bedrooms upstairs.

CHARACTER PROPERTIES

These reflect the region’s history, from the tiny farm cottages with low ceilings and wooden beams, to spacious converted barns or even 15th-century presbyteries. Less frequently, you might see ‘colombage’ houses, with decorative external timbers.

HÔTEL PARTICULIER

Not (as you might think) hotels, these elegant mansions are private town residences built by wealthy, aristocratic families. Traditionally symmetrical, placed between an entrance court and a rear garden, Pays de la Loire mansions are often built from the local creamy-white tuffeau stone.

MAISONS – BOURGEOISE

Similar to a maison de maître, these date from the late 1800s, and feature high ceilings, reception rooms for social gatherings and fireplaces upstairs as well as down. Frequently located in rural landscapes, if your maison bourgeoise boasts a turret, it can be classed as a château.

EQUESTRIAN PROPERTIES

As this region is synonymous with horse-riding, there are many equestrian properties here, especially near Saumur. You can find family homes with stables and paddocks, or more substantial properties with direct access to riding trails and an existing business turnover.

TROGLODYTE DWELLINGS

There are a large number of dwellings in this region dug out of the hillsides – in particular along the river from Saumur to Montsoreau. It’s estimated that until the 1800s, up to 50 per cent of Saumur’s population lived in these ‘troglodyte’ caves, left over from the quarrying of the Loire Valley’s white tuffeau stone to construct the area’s elegant châteaux and manors.

The Loire châteaux The Pays de la Loire is, with good reason, known as the land of grand châteaux, being home to many dating from the 1400s to the early 1600s. While you’re most likely to associate the Loire with the likes of Chambord, Chaumont and the Renaissance jewel that is Chenonceau, these are actually located in the nearby Centre-Val de Loire region. However, Pays de la Loire boasts plenty of its own gems – including the magnificent châteaux de Lude (above), Saumur, Bazouges and Baugé. As you’d expect, tourists come in their thousands to these private manor houses – particularly the ones with equally magnificent interiors and stately gardens. Some are even for sale. If you visit Nantes during your travels, its city-centre Château des Ducs de Bretagne has a courtyard and lawns you can visit for free, which is sure to whet your appetite for discovering more.

THE LOIRE CHÂTEAUX

To the French, the Pays de la Loire is the land of châteaux, boasting hundreds of examples mostly constructed from the 1400s to the early 1600s. From the fortress-like Bazouges and Baugé, to the Renaissance elegance of Lude, they attract several hundred thousand visitors a year, boosting stays at gîtes and B&Bs. Besides the famous sites open to the public, there are several unsung châteaux to be discovered – or even purchased. Given their size and scale, many châteaux lend themselves to accommodation ventures but also equestrian, fishing and sporting businesses or wedding venues, but you’d need to define your target demographic and research the market.

You could buy a petit château ripe for restoring from €700,000 (allow renovation costs of €1,000 per m²) while a fully functioning château with existing gîte business comes in closer to €2,000,000. Remember, these are listed properties and planning permissions will need to be sought for any modifications.

Browse properties for sale in Pays De La Loire>>>

 

If you would like some assistance discovering this or other areas of France and find out more about what the property market has to offer please don’t hesitate to give us a call at +44 (0) 1225 463752 or email us at propertysales@frenchentree.com.

If you can’t find what you’re looking for, or don’t have time to search yourself, FrenchEntrée has a dedicated Property Team to assist you in finding your dream property. Let us know what you are looking for and we will do our best to select properties matching your requirements. 

FrenchEntrée offer a wide range of services designed to help you to buy a property in France. If you need a mortgage or advice on your international money transfer, FrenchEntrée is dedicated to assisting you through all the steps of your property purchase.

 

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