Such is Côtes-d’Armor’s popularity with house-hunters, we have decided to revisit it – this month pitting it against the delights of Vendée. Historic towns, a dramatic and beautiful coastline and oodles of charm, this département in northern Brittany is loved by British housebuyers and holidaymakers alike. Property here tends to be cheaper than elsewhere in the region but look inland to make the most of your budget – in and around Dinan is a great place to start. If you have a bit more to spend, there’s the capital Saint-Brieuc, with its half-timbered houses and sandy beaches.
Côtes-d’Armor is further north than Vendée and this gives it the edge when it comes to transport links – particularly the ferries, with regular sailings between Plymouth and Roscoff as well as Portsmouth and Saint-Malo. The Normandy ports: Cherbourg, Caen and Le Havre are also nearby. Direct flights operate to Dinard, Brest and Rennes.
Its location on the north coast of Brittany, means Côtes-d’Armor can be cloudy and wet. Temperatures drop below freezing in winter, and the summers can be sunny – though they can’t compete with Vendée’s.
As always, the bargains are to be found inland. Smaller towns and villages – such as Laniscat, Plélauff and Callac – are your best bet for lower prices and renovation projects that can still be snapped up for as little as €50,000-€70,000. In the right place, a good solid neo-Breton house could be yours for less than €100,000, while upwards of €150,000 will get you property with land and outbuildings to convert into gîtes.
This département’s coast and glorious countryside are a big draw – head out on foot or by bike. Kayaking, canoeing and boat tours are popular too. For something more sedate, the nature reserve in the Bay of Saint-Brieuc is great for bird watching and there are golf courses here aplenty.
Vendée, like Côtes-d’Armor, is in northwestern France and has a long shoreline. It hugs the Atlantic coast, with Brittany to the north and the Marais Poitevin (Green Venice) to the south. The département’s 140 kilometres of sandy beaches have long attracted holidaymakers, and bustling resorts – including Les Sables-d’Olonne and Saint-Jean-du-Monts – are strung along its length with amusements galore and pricey apartments and villas. Inland, things are much more sedate – its marshes, plains and wooded hills packed with hidden gems.
For many years, small numbers of Brits, seduced by the region’s beautiful but largely undiscovered hinterland, have bought properties here, snapping up farmhouses and bourrines (workers’ cottages) in the pretty marshside villages. For those who prefer urban life, there’s the vibrant capital La Roche-sur-Yon, cathedral town of Luçon and to its east, straddling the Vendée River, Fontenay-le-Comte, rich in honey-coloured townhouses and historic buildings.
Located within four hours of the ferry ports of Saint-Malo, Caen and Cherbourg, and with airports nearby at Nantes and La Rochelle, Vendée is easily accessible from the UK. The train from Paris to La Roche-sur-Yon can take just over three hours.
Despite its northwesterly location, Vendée has its own microclimate that sees summer temperatures rivalling those in the Côte d’Azur. Winters are milder too.
Villages inland offer the best value – try Melluire, Mouilleron en Pareds, or Cezais. Here you’ll still find cottages and farmhouses in need of TLC for under €100,000 – perhaps with a few acres of land and less than an hour from the coast. Elsewhere, charming stone-built family homes can be yours for €150,000-€250,000. If you have the money and don’t mind the tourists, a poolside villa near one of the popular resorts will cost €600,000 plus.
If beach resorts don’t do it for you, there are historic towns to visit, the Marais Poitevin to spend a tranquil afternoon exploring by boat, or to take the fun to another level, spend a day at the famous Puy de Fou historical theme park in Les Epesses.
Lead photo credit : Shutterstock
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