In Eastern Aquitaine
Glorious Aquitaine, fabled land of many rivers, once stretched from the Loire valley to the Pyrenees, that was many years ago when it was a rich, medieval dukedom, when Eleanor was its Duchess and her court attracted the greatest troubadours of the age. Now it has been absorbed into modern France and is a fraction of its former size. But the fairytale chateaux are still here – some of them are even for sale – it’s still a beautiful, rolling landscape and after all those years when it formed part of the vast Plantagenet Empire, there’s something about it that remains quintessentially English. Perhaps that explains the number of British who have elected to settle here, and are still coming in droves.
Apart from the Dordogne, one of the most favoured departments is the Lot et Garonne. Watered by the two great rivers for which it’s named, this is the fruit bowl of France, home of the world famous Agen prunes and the enormous, delicious Marmande tomatoes. There are huge orchards of plum, peach and nectarine, melon fields and asparagus beds. The climate is a degree or two warmer than its neighbours inland, another good reason for the high British population. If you’re looking for an area that may be a little less expensive, with fewer second homes, the further south you go the better your chances. The land around Agen, lively capital of the Lot et Garonne, is relatively sparsely populated whilst Agen itself offers excellent facilities. The style of the old farmhouses changes as you travel south, the turrets and pigeonniers are left behind and long slanting roofs, typical of the region appear. For those prepared to roll up their sleeves there are bargains to be found amongst these properties. This is also an excellent place to look if you fancy a smallholding. Agricultural land is cheap, the soil is rich, fertile and free of the rock-strewn ground that so delights the tourists but exasperates farmers in the neighbouring Quercy. Many rural enterprises have appeared over the last few years, farming everything from lettuces to Llamas. They can sell their surplus in the local markets whilst enjoying all the benefits of a benevolent climate and contributing to the local economy at the same time. This is the kind of enterprise of which the astute and statesmanlike Eleanor would undoubtedly have approved.
© 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”.
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