We consider the best reasons to buy in these neighbouring areas jostling for position in the sunny south of France…
The Gard, a desirable location in the south of France, is a geographically diverse département with varied property styles. You’ll find beautiful beaches to the south, the wild mountain ranges of the Cévennes national park in the north, plus the stunning wetlands of the Camargue. Life has a relaxed pace here in contrast to the hustle and bustle of Nîmes. It is possible to achieve the perfect balance, with a property that is equidistant from both the sea and the ski slopes!
The Languedoc-Roussillon is well served as a whole with its airports, but visitors to the Gard can fly to either Montpellier or Nîmes. The latter is also served by the TGV, which links it to Paris and from there to London and other major European cities.
The region has a Mediterranean climate and is bathed in sun for 300 days a year. Winters are mild and short, however the Mistral can make things feel a lot cooler. When air streams from the Mediterranean and the Cévennes meet, the result is heavy rain storms and parts of the area have been prone to flooding in the past. Check with your agent and the Mairie, who will be able to give you details of any flood zones.
It is an obligation under French law in this region to include details of previous flood or storm damage in the Acte de Vente.
Property prices are on the increase here and typically, the closer you get to Nîmes and Montpellier, the higher they are. The commuter belt for Montpellier reaches as far as Nîmes, so there will be competition from the local buyers’ market. Sought-after Uzès remains universally popular and also comes with a high price tag. Countryside villas within easy reach of the town can still be affordable, though, starting at €300,000 depending on their condition. Outside space can be hard to find but there are still relatively inexpensive village houses on the periphery. This region offers many of the benefits of a Mediterranean lifestyle, but at more affordable prices than neighbouring Provence.
There’s lots here for outdoor enthusiasts as the region offers both mountains and coastline. For lovers of history, there are beautifully preserved Roman buildings dotted around the region, most notably the incredible UNESCO-listed Pont du Gard aqueduct.
The Vaucluse is a region of contrasting landscapes, from its swathes of lavender and vineyards to the hilltop villages that are so characteristic of Provence. The natural massif region of the Luberon includes some fantastic locations such as Goult and Gordes and the département itself has over seven hotspots ranked on the esteemed ‘Plus Beaux Villages’ list. The main urban centres are the larger cities of Avignon and Orange to the west.
The region is easily accessible via airports at Marseille, Toulon-Hyères, Nîmes and Avignon, and on the Riviera coast to the east is Nice. Those travelling by train can enjoy the scenic route with direct trains from London St Pancras to Avignon and Marseille, or via a change to Aix-en-Provence on the TGV. Cross-Channel ferry or Eurotunnel users can travel by motorway from Calais via Dijon and Lyon. Expect the journey to take round 9.5 to 10 hours.
Inland Provence enjoys hot summers (July and August can be particularly warm) and mild winters, making it the perfect place to live or buy a holiday home. Furthermore, the region benefits from extremely low levels of rainfall. Average temperatures in December/January can be around 12°C.
This is a big region with huge price variations. The further inland you go, the more affordable the properties become. In many ways, it’s an investor’s paradise. Buy-to-let holiday homes can be rented out in the height of the summer months and easily earn as much as you would from a long-term rental. Access to beaches and airports are important factors to consider but, a property with its own pool may be a key consideration, given the traffic to the coast during the tourist period. Village houses needing work are popular due to the lower price tag, but be prepared to forego outside space to bag a bargain! Typically the north of the Luberon, areas like Saint-Saturnin-lès-Apt, will offer greater value.
Anyone looking for a physical challenge should try a bike ride or hike up the UNESCO-classified Mont Ventoux. The reward is exceptional views of the Alps and the Mediterranean. The architecture here is striking too, influenced by changing civilisations from the Romans to the Renaissance period. Don’t miss the incredible Palais des Papes in Avignon.
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