We head to France’s northwest coastline, where two départements jostle for the top spot…
Tranquil Côtes-d’Armor on Brittany’s northern coast is traditionally the region’s most popular spot for British buyers. Its capital, Saint-Brieuc, is characterised by half-timbered houses and sandy beaches popular with French and British alike.
Be warned: owning your own home is part of Breton culture and this makes the region’s property market quite active, so don’t hang about if you see something you like. However, prices here average €122,000 – which is around €25,000 cheaper than Brittany as a whole.
Transport connections with the UK are good in this area, with direct flights to Dinard, Brest and Rennes. Ferries operate from Plymouth to Roscoff and Portsmouth to Saint-Malo. There are also services to Normandy ports: Cherbourg, Caen and Le Havre.
With its coastal location, Côtes-d’Armor can be cloudy and wet at any time of year. The north coast of Brittany is cooler than the south coast with its sunny microclimate. Winters tend to be mild, with very little snow, though temperatures can drop below freezing.
Northern Côtes-d’Armor is the most pricey, especially in the areas around the major towns and coast. But you can pick up a bargain, further south and in central areas – for example, around Loudeac, where prices are lower and there are doeruppers aplenty. A traditional stone cottage in need of updating can cost as little as €50,000-€70,000. Neo-Breton houses in good condition in communities inland can be found for under €100,000. Property with land and gîte potential away from the coast, will be upwards of €150,000.
Lace up your walking boots and discover Côtes-d’Armor’s wonderful countryside and shoreline – from the Pink Granite Coast to the Emerald Coast – on foot. Golfing is popular, too, as are kayaking, canoeing and boat tours.
The rugged scenery and pretty seaside towns of Manche on the Basse-Normandie coast are just a short ferry ride from southern England. The biggest town here is Cherbourg, a port with a rich heritage and tasty cuisine (seafood tops the menu). There are plenty of hotspots here for history lovers – including the fortified island of Mont-Saint-Michel off the Manche coast and Utah, one of the WW2 beaches – while nature fans will love the wide open spaces inland.
Manche is easily accessible from the UK by ferry – as well as by road, rail and air. The département’s biggest ferry ports are Cherbourg – with routes to Poole, Portsmouth, Dublin and Rosslaire – and Saint-Malo, linking France with Portsmouth and Plymouth. Cherbourg is served well by train, while you can reach the region via the A13 or A84 motorways by car. Low-cost airlines link the UK to Dinard, plus nearby Rennes and Caen.
Though Manche has a mild and humid oceanic climate – with summer temperatures typically reaching around 20°C and fairly mild winters – the Gulf Stream means Riviera-style vegetation can grow here.
A house with sea views in this region will cost less than in swankier seaside resorts such as Deauville. Pretty character properties within walking distance of the beach can be found for under €200,000, with prices increasing towards the popular resorts such as Granville. Snap up quaint stone houses inland with bolthole potential, or larger properties in need of TLC for €100,000- €150,000. For longère-style dwellings or larger family homes with land, there is plenty of choice inland from €200,000 upwards.
Hikers or cyclists can strike out across the gorgeous countryside in Manche; horse riding is very big here, so you could explore on horseback. History buffs can head along Utah Beach, one of the landing zones for US soldiers during WWII, or visit the nearby Mémorial de la Liberté Retrouvée. There’s also a whole host of sea-based activities, from sailing and kayaking to kitesurfing.
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