Aude is in the Occitanie department (formerly Languedoc Roussillon) in the sunny south of France. It’s home to the renowned Carcassonne Citadel, fabulous vineyards, castles, olive orchards, prehistoric caves and beautiful villages. In our expert property guide to Aude we look at what makes this a great place to live, what sort of properties are available and where to look…
We talk to local agent Andrew Guck with Leggett Immobillier to get the lowdown on where to look for the best properties in the area. Andrew says “We call it Aude, but to be more specific about where we are, we indicate the wine region or “Appellation”. For instance, the Minervois, Cabardès, or Corbières regions. I spend most of my time working in the Minervois valley.”
Expat life in Aude
Where are you from and why did you chose to live in this area of France?
I’m from the Greater Rochester area of N.Y. USA. I moved to France in 2011 with my French wife. We’ve lived in several regions but are now settled in Aude in the Carcassonne area where my in-laws also live.
What is the appeal of Aude for buyers?
One of the biggest appeals of the area is that the climate is Mediterranean here. Spring starts around the end of February with the almond trees and mimosas blooming and the weather is mild until mid-June when the temperatures increase. The summers are very hot but dry and weeks at a time go by without any rain. Summer weather lasts until late September, early October and the autumn is also mild and enjoyable. The winters here don’t go below freezing very much and snow is very rare.
It’s the south of France lifestyle, but at a more reasonable cost of living than other areas further east such as Provence.
What’s the best thing about living in this area?
The landscape is gorgeous, but also diverse. You can drive an hour in one direction and find rolling hills with Cypress and Stone Pine. Head in another direction and you’ll be in the Black Mountains. Or towards the South, you’ll be soaking up the sun on the beaches of the Mediterranean.
It’s quite a diverse population in the area. The people of this region tend to come from all over France, and they’re friendly folk. They are curious about where you come from and like to test their English with you when they have the chance.
I would also say that you never run out of interesting places to discover. After living here for nearly three years I’m still encountering new places. You’re a stone’s throw away from the Pyrenees Mountains, the Mediterranean Sea, and surrounded by one of the most impressive wine regions in the world.
Expert Property Guide to Aude
What are property prices like in Aude?
A property will typically start out at about 1000€m2, but on average, a property here will go for 1500€m2. It depends on the house. Some can sell for upwards of 2500m2 in the right location such as the Medieval Cité of Carcassonne. You’ll find properties from under €100,000 and upwards and less than €250,000 will get you a charming home with 3 bedrooms in a great area.
What sort of property is available? And is there a typical style in this area?
There’s a large diversity of properties here in Aude. You’ll find everything from “Maison de Maîtres” which were houses owned by the wealthy winemakers of the time, to typical French Villas, as well as “Maison du Village”, which are houses that are adjoining on both sides. The main style of the houses here are built with stucco siding decorated with Earth-tone colors and Spanish tile roofs.
What are the most popular towns/villages for buyers?
Besides the city of Carcassonne itself, some of the popular villages with buyers include Villeneuve Minervois, Caunes Minervois, Lagrasse, Siran, Azille, Homps, Limoux, and Montolieu (village of books). The Canal du Midi runs through many of these villages which makes them quite popular.
Your top tips for not-so-well-known places in Aude that property seekers should consider?
Look for the “Villes Fleuries” which are cities and villages that participate in a contest and are given a star (or rather flower) rating 1-4. If a village is on this list, they are likely a nice place to live as they spend time and money on decorating the village with plants and flowers.
You can also look for villages outside of the expat communities. Personally, I live in a small village (Palaja) of 2000 habitants a few kilometers from Carcassonne, which isn’t known amongst the expatriate community. All of my neighbors are French and it’s a wonderful place to live. I’m forced into the French lifestyle here which is a real bonus!
What’s the market outlook for Aude?
Prices are decreasing, but we are now seeing an increase in sales due to people from the bigger cities wanting to get away from the hustle and bustle. For the price of a small apartment in Paris, you can own a decent-sized home and garden in the Aude.
Despite the lack of tourism at the moment, there has been a large influx of people interested in creating Chambre d’Hôtes and Boutique Hotels. The Aude region thrives on tourism, so we anticipate an increase in sales of Chambre d’Hôtes, B&B’s, and other rental properties. People are buying with a view that they can essentially pay for their mortgages thanks to the money they make with tourism.
What are your top tips for buyers US?
Many people are now doing WhatsApp visits of potential house, in the event you can’t visit in person, it’s a great way to continue the search.
Keep in mind that there are Notaire’s Fees and taxes to add to the cost which are generally 7-8%. There is nothing more disappointing than finding the perfect house only to have it sold before you arrive, so check with you agent before you plan to go look.
If possible stay in the area for a few days or even a month or so if possible beforehand.
Join Facebook groups such as “English Speakers in Carcassonne” where you can ask other expats questions.
Last but not least, be sure to learn French before arriving if you can – it will make life much easier for you in France.
See Andrew’s portfolio of properties at: frenchestateagents.com/french-property-for-sale/agent/Andrew_Guck