If you’re torn between choosing a home in France that’s somewhere by the beach or up in the mountains – with the Pyrénées-Orientales you can have both. This sunny department is in southern France, adjacent to the northern Spanish frontier (Catalonia) and the Mediterranean. It’s slow starting to be discovered by British buyers, although the French have long appreciated its diverse appeal.
The Pyrénées-Orientales area is easy to reach and a tempting blend of French/Spanish border cultures. It offers beautiful beaches, ski resorts and hilltop villages says Liz Rowlinson…
Ski and bask on the beach on the same day in France
There aren’t many places in the world where you can ski in the morning and enjoy a glass of wine in the sunshine on the Mediterranean coast in the afternoon, But the Pyrénées-Orientales can offer you this and so much more.
For dedicated skiers there are eight ski stations that are generally more affordable and less crowded than the French Alps. The two largest are Font-Romeu and Les Angles where it is possible to buy a 1 bedroom apartment at a great price. Here you can mix skiing with biking or other activities and take advantage of the dual seasonality of the region, which is great for those looking to maximise rental income.
Easy access and lots to do
Access to this area is easy, with flights to Perpignan, Béziers, Carcassonne and Girona airport all within a 2-hour drive. There is also a TGV service to Perpignan train station. And, the A9 motorway links to the Spanish border.
“The area offers such a contrast in scenery within a short distance. From the huge expanse of sandy beaches that transform into rocky coves and the plains that are full of cherry, peach and apricot trees, right up to the mountains with their spectacular scenery,” says Donna Tulloch, Leggett’s local agent. “Mount Canigou is the highlight of this area. Not the highest mountain at 2,784m but the most visible from as far as Barcelona and Marseille.”
Even with the beaches you can choose between sandy bays such as at Toreilles, Canet-Plage and Spanish border. And there are chic little towns like Collioure. Port Vendres and Argelès near Perpignan. The rocky coves are great for snorkelling and diving around Cerbère near the Spanish border.
Where to buy in Pyrénées-Orientales
For buyers who would love to be close to the beach, the busy little market town of Prades is a popular choice, with its Pablo Casals chamber music festival every August. Or there’s Vinça, with its own swimming lake just off the main road between the coast and Andorra. Most buyers’ budgets range from €150,000 to €200,000 for a village house with outside space. Prices get cheaper as you go further up into the mountains. And for €350,000 you can find a house with a garden and a swimming pool. Perfect for those who want to rent out when not using it.
Other highlights include the beaux villages of Eus, Ville-franche-de-Conflent and Vernet-les-Bains, where Rudyard Kipling took the waters over a century ago. The evident elements of Catalan culture are also appealing, from the ‘firework runs’ or correfocs to the human tower-building of the castellers.
This tempting blend of French/Spanish border cultures makes for a life rich in culture and things to do…
See Legget Immobilier’s selection of properties for sale in Pyrenees-Orientales