In the Northern Midi-Pyrenees
The Midi-Pyrenees is the largest region in France, and possibly the most diverse, stretching from the undulating charm of the Dordogne valley in the north to the snow-capped peaks of the Pyrenees in the south. The two northernmost departments are the Lot and the Tarn and Garonne; together they form the ancient province of the Quercy. It’s a lost little corner of France that time seems to have passed by, industry is almost non-existent and the main business is agriculture; vineyards and sunflower fields, walnut groves and vast orchards of peaches and plums.
The centre of this beautiful, untamed area is Cahors, capital of the Lot department and ancient capital of the Quercy. This old city sits in a loop of the river Lot, surely the most enchanting in all France. Its serpentine course starts in the high causses, east of Cahors, lazily wends its way past soaring cliffs filled with troglodyte caves and crowned with bastide villages, then flows on through the sun-baked vineyards that produce the famous Cahors wines.
Because of its wild beauty the area has long been a favourite with world-weary Parisians, and there are numerous second homes here. In the last ten years the British and Dutch – who would traditionally have been looking at the Dordogne – also discovered it. For that reason alone prices have risen sharply, and although the region can’t be considered particularly expensive there are fewer bargains. It is still possible to find a traditional stone-built property, but before deciding on a rural location you may like to consider the villages. Village properties represent extraordinarily good value for money, they can be half the price of their country cousins, and as the turreted stone villages of this region are amongst the prettiest in France it can be a shrewd move. Many young families now prefer the village option. They are warmly welcomed at local schools and are able to enjoy the convenience of boulangeries, restaurants and cafes, a mere stroll away. Another increasingly popular option is the self-build route. Land is inexpensive and there’s plenty of it. Many villages are expanding, plots on the fringes are now available with CU, and several companies have sprung up to take care of the design and build. Food for thought, especially for retiring couples, no renovation, little maintenance, and of course the views are still delightful.
© Amanda Lawrence
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This snapshot is an extract from a recently published book by FrenchEntree Property Editor Michael Streeter – “Buying a house in France”.