Who doesn’t long to live in picture postcard pretty Provence? It’s the dream for so many, surrounded by lavender fields, relaxing in hilltop villages, enjoying the local rosé.
We talk to Denis Descampes. Originally from Brittany he fell head over heels for the department of Alpes-de-Haute-Provence and moved there to enjoy the southern French good life. A local property agent with Leggett Immobillier, he shares his expertise:
Tell us about where you live in Provence?
It’s an authentic region, all the charm of high Provence, my village is typical of the area at the heart of the Luberon National Park. Nature is omnipresent, the views are breath-taking, close to the Alps and the glorious Gorges du Verdon yet just 1h30 from Marseille. We are close to Roussillon, nicknamed the Colorado Provencal. The ochre quarries in the middle of nature have magnificent colours. La Forêt des Cedres, a forest of Cedar trees from Lebanon which were imported in the 18th century, is very beautiful too with views over the Durance River and the “Alpilles” mountains.
Like many villages here, there are artists and writers attracted by the beauty and tranquillity of the area. The daughter of the painter Picasso lives here and has totally renovated a beautiful chapel, and a cousin of Prince Charles also lives here.
My house is a typical Provencal style house. A recent build it nevertheless is a traditional stone construction and with respect for traditional building methods. The great added value of this house is its location, with exceptional views of the mountains.
Where do you recommend expats should look for property in Provence?
I think that it is important to consider outside the very touristic places of my region (such as those made famous by author Peter Mayle) such as Gordes, Lourmarin, Roussillon, Bonnieux and Lacoste. Don’t hesitate to go a few kilometres further afield, and there you will find equally beautiful villages, much less touristic, more tranquil and authentic, lived in by the locals.
Villages like Forcalquier, Reillanne or even Manosque have long attracted expats and have established associations that enable get togethers and make daily life easier to deal with administrative issues for example.
What properties do most home buyers seek in Provence?
Actually buyers look for the same type of property and I understand them completely. Small villages or close to a small town or village, without immediate neighbours. A nice stone house, typical but bright. A good-sized plot of land but not too big. Great views and, of course with a swimming pool. These are definitely the most popular requirements of home seekers in Provence.
What can home buyers get for their money in Provence?
Really, what can be very interesting and surprisingly affordable, are nice village houses. The quality/price ratio is often very appealing, properties with small gardens but full of charm and authenticity.
In this part of France you’ll find that properties are often offered to referenced buyers before being put on the market, so make sure you let your agent know what your requirements are. Doing this means that they can bear you in mind when properties come up. A good agent will also be able to tell you about the villages which may not be well known but be perfect for you, the place where you’ll find your dream house in Provence and which you might not otherwise ever know about…
See Denis’ Property portfolio in Provence
Find out about becoming an agent for Leggett: https://www.frenchestateagents.com/pages/recruitment