Breathtaking views, wild but accessible landscapes, peace and quiet… If these are among your location must-haves, then Ariège in Occitanie – nestling in the Pyrénées near Andorra on the Spanish border – should be high on your house-hunting hit list. There’s plenty to do here despite the rarefied atmosphere.
Ten ski stations will keep winter sports enthusiasts happy, while there are waymarked trails to run or cycle, streams and rivers to fish or navigate by canoe or kayak and flora and fauna to discover – even the odd bear. It has a rich history. Cathar châteaux dot the landscape and prehistoric caves can be found beneath it. Elsewhere you can visit a talc quarry, a troglodyte church and a tufa waterfall.
Much of Ariège is within an hour of Toulouse, with its big-city attractions and transport links including an international airport and fast trains to Paris. Despite this, the département still has some of the best-value property in France, with prices slightly higher around places like Betchat, Saint-Lizier and Foix where there is easier access to Toulouse; and lower towards the mountains around Saint-Girons, Massat, Castillon-en-Couserans and Seix, near the ski resort of Guzet Neige.
It’s a rural département with no big towns. Farming is, and has always been, the predominant industry here and this is reflected in the types of property available to home buyers. Village houses built of local stone with wooden beams, often with a garden or courtyard, start at €100,000. Farmhouses with lots of land and outbuildings and positioned to make the most of the plentiful sunshine can be yours from €350,000. Unconverted barns are popular, so if you see one you like, snap it up. There’s currently one in Aulus-les-Bains for €50,000.
Maisons à colombage – half-timbered houses dating from the 15th century – are also a feature of the Ariège département and can be found particularly in towns such as Foix, Saint-Girons and Saint-Lizier, starting at €250,000. Character stone properties with dormer windows are priced from €200,000. Look out for building plots too – we’ve spotted one of 950m2 near Saint-Girons with fabulous views for €28,000.
Looking to buy property in Ariège?
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Lead photo credit : Ariege in autumn with the Pyrenees in the background - Shutterstock
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