Guide to the property market in Lodeve and surrounds
The unexpectedly elegant market-town of Lodeve lies in the north-west corner of the Herault department in Languedoc-Roussillon, in the valley of the River Lergue where the plains rise up to the Causse de Larzac plateau, 54 km from Montpellier, along the A75 motorway which connects the Auvergne to the Mediterranean. It is surrounded by green hills, woods and vineyards and is equidistant between the Lac d’Avene and the Lac du Salagou. Several picturesque and historic villages lie within its vicinity including Saint-Jean-de-la-Blaquiere, Soubes, La Vacquerie-et-Saint-Martin-de-Castries and Lauroux which is close to the Grotte de Labeil – an underground river and cave once used for the production of Roquefort cheese and now open to the public to view tremendous examples of stalactites and stalagmites. The town is also near several other historic and natural sights such as the impressive Cirque de Navacelles formed by the ancient meandering of the River Vis, the abundant and beautiful aragonite and calcite concretions in the Grotte de Clamouse, the abbey and legends surrounding the pretty village of Saint-Guilhem-le-Dessert and the Roc Castel fortification at Le Caylar.
The changing fortunes of Lodeve has imbued it with a sense of history, marked by the grand architecture of its older buildings which speak of a more prosperous time. Whilst the town is somewhat dominated by the Saint-Fulcran cathedral which dates from the 10th century, the central urban ellipse showcases Lodeve’s heritage with beautiful shaded walks between the classified 17th and 18th century buildings such as the Hotel de Ville, the former episcopal palace, the Audibert Museum (archaeology and geology) and the Fleury Museum (fine arts) which are housed in the former Hotel du Cardinal. Lodeve started as the capital of a Volque tribe (the Lutevani) before becoming the Roman city Luteva (also known as Forum Neronis). The town was a stopping point on the pilgrimage to Santiago de Compostela via the Arles road. An episcopal city until the French Revolution, its heyday in the 18th century saw its population rise to about 10,000 and it became a centre for textile production under Louis XV and was home to one of only two royal manufacturers for tapestry and carpet-making, l’atelier de la Savonnerie, which still produces hand made carpets for State buildings today. Lodeve has also recently gained status in the public eye by being close to the village of Roquredonde which is home to the Lerab Ling international Buddhist temple and retreat centre, founded in 1991.
Today the town counts about 7100 inhabitants and is a sub-prefecture of the Herault department, enjoying an active market economy with all the amenities of a good sized town including primary schools, a college and lycée, numerous local commerce, restaurants, bars and cafés, two supermarkets, a co-operative wine cellar, a small hospital, a retirement home and sanatorium. The easy motorway links to Montpellier and Beziers (both around 45 minutes away), make it an attractive commuter town as well as a good base for holiday home owners who can access the airports of Montpellier and Beziers. Throughout the year, the town hosts a varied programme of festivities and events both cultural and athletic, as well as all sorts of markets which are always well worth a visit. In recent years, the Museum Art Gallery has gained national acclaim for its major art exhibitions. The “Voix de la Méditerranée” poetry festival, established in 1998 takes place every July for around 10 days. Poets, musicians and writers come from many different countries on the Mediterranean to share their culture through poetry readings, concerts and other cultural events. There is also the “Fête de St. Fulcran” carnival, on honour of the patron saint of Lodeve, which takes place in May.
Lodeve is often referred to by its local tourist office as the gateway to the Mediterranean, and it is this proximity to both the sea to the south and the mountainous regions to the north that makes Lodeve an interesting place for many property hunters. And with all the facilities and amenities it provides, Lodeve is an attractive proposition for those looking to relocate permanently. Despite this enviable location property prices in and around Lodeve are still comparatively low.
As Languedoc-Roussillon’s population continues to rise, and with the vast majority of the migrating population looking to live within easy access to Montpellier, Lodeve looks set to increase in popularity in the future, which means that investing in property here long term could be a sound decision. And as more holiday makers discover the peaceful delights of the Languedoc-Roussillon interior, and airport links at Beziers and Montpellier continue to thrive, owning a second home here could raise enough income to pay for itself if coupled with clever pricing and advertising. As ever, we would remind property hunters to visit and research the area thoroughly, but are sure that those who haven’t yet discovered the charms of Lodeve will be pleasantly surprised.
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