We weigh up the benefits of buying in two distinct départements of the Pays de la Loire…
The Vendée is a coastal département, part of the Pays de la Loire region. It’s notable for its long stretches of white sandy beaches and is home to several popular seaside towns such as Les Sables d’Olonne – the start of the famous Vendée Globe race – and La Tranche-sur-Mer. This coastal stretch is known as the Côte de Lumière (coast of light) for its sunny beaches bordered by swathes of pine forests and stretching from the island of Noirmoutier-en-Ile in the nort to Bretignolles-sur-Mer in the south. Inland areas like Fontenay-Le-Comte are and ideal base from which to explore the Marais Poitevin network of marshlands and canals known as the Green Venice.
One of its biggest assets is its accessibility. The main point of entry for air travellers is Nantes airport to the north, which receives regular flights from the UK. The nearest airport to the south of the Vendée is La Rochelle. Direct flights are also available into nearby Angers in the Loire Valley. Cross-channel ferry users can sail into the Normandy and Brittany ports with an easy drive south without the need for an overnight stop. The train journey from Paris is approximately two hours.
The area enjoys a temperate microclimate all year round due to the Atlantic coast and southern influences. Summers are dry with pleasantly warm temperatures, and autumns are mild. Winters can be wet and windy at times with regional variations between coastal and inland areas, but the average temperature is 5-8°C.
For those buyers searching for holiday homes by the sea this is an ideal area, but, of course, pricing for properties by the sea will be at a premium, particularly around the popular resort towns. Inland areas will offer more affordable pricing around the Mervent Forest. Sought after towns inland include Fontenay-le-Comte and the pretty market towns of Chantonnay and Vouvant.
There are 175km of cycle paths which meander through forests, marshland and dunes, and the terrain varies nicely as you head inland. The Pierre-Blanche in the Mervent-Vouvant is a popular area for climbers, surrounded by forest and lakes.
The Loire-Atlantique is the northernmost coastal département of the Pays de la Loire region. The administrative capital is Nantes, which is situated on the Loire estuary; and was once a part of the historical Duchy of Brittany. This is a vibrant, creative city with a visibly rich architectural heritage. This urban centre is contrasted with the natural assets of the region – wild creeks and rocky coastlines and, of course, the famous salt marshes of the Guérande.
The airport of Nantes is the busiest in the west of France, with regular routes to and from the UK. There is an excellent rail network with high-speed TGV links to Paris and Lille. The TGV journey from Paris to Nantes takes approximately two hours.
The département faces the Atlantic Ocean and as a result benefits from a milder temperate climate with relatively warm weather year round. Summer temperatures on average are around 17-18°C.
Pricing varies across the département and will; of course, increase as you move closer towards the coast. Inland, the historic market town of Chateaubriant is within an hour’s drive of the beaches and is worth considering for buyers looking for traditional property with the benefit of town and country living. The surrounding countryside is a popular choice for buyers looking for equestrian property. Grander properties in the centre of town will also come at a premium, but pricing for traditional stone longères and countryside property with easy access to nearby towns and villages like Erbray and Soulvache can still be quite reasonable.
Gourmands will enjoy the abundance of fresh fish and local culinary delights. A local speciality is zander, often served with beurre blanc sauce, which originated in the Nantes area. The network of salt marsh basins in the Presqu’Ile de Guérande are worth a visit and to appreciate the skilled cultivation by hand of the famous fleur de sel. Work off the gastronomic delights with a cycle or hike along the 50km Vélocéan path with connects the coastal resorts. Popular resting points include the beaches of Saint-Nazaire and Pornic, with its thriving fishing port.