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Aquitaine - Buying Property
The area has good transport links and there are now many airlines offering low cost services to the Aquitaine region. Many people work in the tourism industry which brings in thousands of visitors each year.
The inland departments of Dordogne and Lot-et-Garonne do not see as much demand for property as the coastal departments of Gironde, Les Landes and Pyrénnées Atlantiques, which attract a lot of weekend visitors and second home owners.
Dordogne is the northern department of the region. Expats are attracted to the region by the beautiful countryside and laid back lifestyle. In 2007 the property market slowed down and prices began to drop, although the area is showing signs of recovery now. Average house prices in the area in 2009 were around €1500 per square metre which is lower than the national average. The main towns in the region such as Bergerac and Périgueux do not attract as many house buyers as the smaller, quieter areas.
Lot-et-Garonne is the second inland department of the region. It is filled with small villages and attracts those who enjoy the outdoor life, with activities ranging from hiking to horse riding. The average house price in Lot-et-Garonne was €145,000 in 2009, making property in the department very affordable. Prices did drop in the economic crisis but are now rising slowly. The town of Villeneuve sur Lot is a sought after area and house prices there are higher than the rest of the department. Agen is another popular town but offers more in the way of older houses.
The Gironde department is one that has a coastal area and is actually the largest department in France. The area is filled with vineyards and thrives on an active tourism industry. The area is popular with those who want a second home, so receives a lot of weekend visitors. The 2009 average price per square metre for a property was €2400 and the average house price was €220,000, making this one of the most expensive areas in the region. The main city is Bordeaux and prices there are on a par with the rest of the department.
Les Landes is the second largest department in France. The forest that covers two thirds of the area is the largest in Europe and the area attracts those who are looking for an active outdoor life. The area saw a huge increase in property prices prior to 2006, but the last few years has seen them slow down and level out at a more reasonable rate. Houses in the region had an average price of €210,000 in 2009 and towns such as Dax have seen an increase in those looking for investment properties to rent out.
The Pyrénées-Atlantiques department and has a mountainous and coastal region. Due to the location it is the most expensive department in the Aquitaine region. Property prices did rise in this area even when those were dropping in other parts of the region although the rise was small. Demand remains consistent for properties in the area and the average price at the beginning of 2009 was €3227 per square metre which was slightly higher than the national average. The average cost of a house was €277,000. Popular towns in the area include Biarritz, which attracts wealthy people and surfers and Pau, situated in the mountains and which attracts those who want a more rural, traditional lifestyle.
Bastide type houses are one of the most typical in the region. These are large style farmhouses which are usually fortified and come with courtyards and outbuildings. The name is taken from the fortified towns which are often seen in the area. These are popular with expats as they are older properties which are filled with character.
Longère houses are another popular choice. These are one storey houses which are long and rectangular. They usually have outbuildings attached and come with large gardens and are a traditional housing style that can be seen across the whole of the country.
Chateaux are a feature of the area, and despite the name these are not always castles in the traditional sense of the word. Often they are large farmhouses which were fortified with added features such as turrets.
‘Maisons de Notable’ are popular with house buyers and are similar to ‘maisons de maître’. They usually have a great deal of land with them, so are ideal for those who want a smallholding. They often have a number of outbuildings and vary between one and two storeys. There are many ‘maisons de maître’ available on farmland now given over to vineyards. These are generally a good size but just come with a large garden rather than a lot of land.
Oustau houses are often seen in the Landes department. These are usually half timbered properties which are built with the back of the house facing the incoming winds from the direction of the Atlantic.
The ‘maisons basques’ are houses built in the style of a villa and are usually coloured red and white. Older houses are made from timber although more recent versions are built from stone. They are a large rectangular shape and offer the buyer a lot in the way of space and tradition.
The ‘maisons béarnaises’ come from the Béarn province and are distinctive, with walls constructed from cob, stone and pebbles and roofs which are steeply pitched. Together with the outhouses the buildings are usually in a ‘U’ or ‘L’ shape and are based around a courtyard. These houses offer the buyer a traditional home with many typically French features.
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