France is approximately five times the area of England and has a geography as diverse as the USA. It’s generally thought that this is the reason so many of the French don’t go abroad for their holidays – they don’t need to! France offers everything from flatlands and marshes to mountains and raging rivers.
So, where do you want to buy, is it for a holiday home or for a permanent move? There’s lots to think about but these 4 points are critical considerations when you look to buy property in France.
Whether the weather counts or not
For those wanting heat and sunshine in large quantities, the south of France is the obvious choice. Weather patterns see a noticeable change anywhere south of the Loire to the west and through Champagne to the east. If you prefer the more temperate climate of say the south coast of England, then Northern France is a good choice. Here you can generally reckon on 4°C warmer in summer and 4°C cooler in winter but, without the benefit of the Gulf Stream there are four very distinct seasons.
Along with the weather, the country sees a change in prices depending on where you are in France. From being fairly high in the north, becoming lower priced through central France and then rising again as you approach the south. This same price pattern can be seen moving east to west. The prices in north east France being higher than the north west and again from the south east to the south west.
Need to travel?
When moving here permanently think about the need to travel to see family and friends wherever they might be in the world. Do you have medical reasons for travelling back or do you just want to be able to travel more quickly and easily to other parts of Europe. The Michelin guide gives driving times from Calais to Nice as 10.5 hours, Calais to Cap d’Agde as 10 hours, Paris and Champagne are a mere 3 hours away.
Miles from civilisation?
Once you’ve decided on an area, think about the environment around you. Do you want that isolated farm miles from anywhere after the rat-race of city life? Or do you want a town or village with a stroll to the bar a few evenings a week? Do you want an area where there is a large expat community or somewhere to immerse yourself in the French lifestyle? These are all thoughts to bring up with your agent.
For a holiday home the most important thing to think about is when and how often you want to use it. For a month in the summer and a couple of weeks at Christmas then a whole day’s drive each way might not be a serious problem. While flights will reduce the time and stress, you will have to consider getting out and about so a second car or car hire may need to be taken into account. If you want somewhere for a quick weekend retreat and to be using it several times a year, then look seriously at northern France.
Anywhere within two hours of Calais will give you time to arrive on Friday evening and, depending on where you work, the time difference can let you leave early on Monday (there are plenty of daily commuters in Hauts de France region).
As with a permanent move, think about what you want from your holiday time – peace and quiet in a rural area or somewhere in a town for instance and ask your agent should to give you advice and information on the many towns and villages that might be suitable.
If you have any questions don’t hesitate to contact The Good Life France or direct to me tsage (@) leggett.com
Tim Sage is a property expert and local agent for northern France at Leggett Immobillier