The department of Creuse, Limousin, is in the centre of France. It owes its name to the river Creuse which crosses the area. The western and also the flattest part of the region was an important source of inspiration for impressionist painters such as Monet. Creuse is famous for its 600 year old tradition of weaving tapestries, especially in the town of Aubusson. It’s a land of forests and waterways, glorious countryside, castles and medieval churches.
We talk to local property agent Mariska Smolders about life and the property market in Creuse.
Can you tell us a little about you and where you are from?
I’m from the Netherlands and moved to France with my husband Rob and children in 2013. After a career in journalism and communications I now work for Leggett, the award winning estate agents in France and love to help people find their ideal home in this beautiful area.
What inspired you to move to Creuse?
We started searching for a house in France in 2009. Our goal was to find a home at approximately 9 hours’ drive from the Netherlands, so we could easy go back to see family and friends. We looked at several areas, including Burgundy, Limousin and Auvergne. At some point we realized that we could look for ever as there’s just so much choice in France, but if we really wanted to move, we had to decide. All the areas are beautiful, but we felt that the Creuse is still so authentic in its nature and we loved the old stone houses plus we our dream home here.
Our old stone farmhouse, built around 1850, has outbuildings and land, in a private location, and was immediately habitable. We’ve renovated, adding in a new kitchen, septic tank and big fireplace which is the heart of the house.
We live in a lovely hamlet with only three other houses, very quiet and beautiful, and it is part of the village of Lioux les Monges. It has a beautiful 12th century church (l’église Saint Martial) and the lovely ‘Jardin de la Cure’, a very well kept and beautiful flower garden in the middle of the village. For us it is also ideal that we live on the border with the Puy de Dôme, and we can drive to the beautiful volcano mountains. We love to go there for a day for skiing or hiking.
What do you love about the Creuse
We have wonderful restaurants and beautiful lakes like Lac de Vassivière which is one of the biggest lakes in France. It’s great for a swim in the warm summers or for water sports. There are smaller lakes nearby like the Plan d’eau La Naute in Champagnat or Étang de la Ramade in Flayat. There are all kind of activities to suit the whole family from theatre to sports and lots of concerts. We love to visit the beautiful old towns like Aubusson, Felletin, and Chambon sur Voueize which has a popular weekly market. And there are lots of village festivals with music, food and drinks, brocantes and markets.
It really is the good life, with a slower pace to the day, beautiful countryside and friendly people.
Property guide to Creuse
The Creuse is a great place for people who love nature, outdoor life, gardening, animals, sports activities.
The department is located in between Limoges with its international airport and Clermont-Ferrand with its international airport. Trains from La Souterraine take 2.5 hours to reach Paris. Eurotunnel about 6 hours’ drive from Creuse.
Authentic properties with big gardens or lots of land if required, are available at really good prices. You do need a car here unless you live in a small town with activities and amenities. This is one of the least populated areas of France so you’ll usually need to travel for activities and social life.
The typical Creusois natural stone houses (‘maisons en pierre’) are very popular with buyers. They have authentic elements like old stone fireplaces, old oak beams, stone floors, etc. They’re located in quiet hamlet and villages throughout the departments. Those just outside a village, or even in an isolated location without close neighbours are very popular. Now more than ever, buyers are keen to consider properties in uncrowded country locations with a garden and outside space. Also many people are buying with a view to renovate the property during holidays and planning for retirement here. But we’re also seeing an influx of young people and families with children who want to live a simpler life and who are able to work from home.
What can home buyers get for their money in Creuse?
You can buy a beautifully restored 15th Century chateau for €1.5 million. Or a complete renovation for €20,000. And everything in between. €120,000 euros will get you a renovated, ready to move into, 3 bedroom stone house with a big garden and outbuildings in a quite hamlet or village.
The property prices are relatively low in Creuse as big towns are scarce and there is no major industry. And if you like to live or spend your holidays in an overwhelmingly beautiful area of nature, with clean air, and enjoy a slower paste of life… you’re sure to love life in Creuse!
See Mariska’s portfolio of properties: frenchestateagents.com