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Expert property guide to Herault

Sandy, curved bay of Cap d'Agde on the Mediterranean cost of southern France

Hérault is in the region of Languedoc-Roussillon-Midi-Pyrénées, southern France. It takes in the Mediterranean coast, with stunning fishing villages and renowned seaside towns. Capt d’Agde, La Grande-Motte and Palavas-les-Flots are just a few of its well known resorts. The countryside is glorious, covered in vineyards, with the Canal du Midi flowing through the department. And, it has 300 days of sunshine a year. We asked Cara Matthewson, a local property agent to share her expert property guide to Herault tips…

Can you tell us a little about you and where you are from?

I relocated from Cambridge, England to the south of France in 2014. Taking early retirement, I wanted to live a more relaxed, warmer and more laidback lifestyle which is definitely what you get in Herault.

What inspired you to move to the Herault department

I wanted to be close to the sea, enjoy warm weather, blue skies and sunshine – the area of Herault with its Mediterranean climate fits the bill perfectly.

What is your house like?

I live in the vibrant, wine making village of Magalas which is surrounded by vineyards and about 15 minutes north from the historical city of Béziers, one of the oldest cities in France. It’s an exceptional location between the Mediterranean Sea and the hills of the Haut-Languedoc. It’s just half an hour from the sea and 20 minutes to the hills of Haut-Languedoc. The property dates back to the 19th century with amazing 180 degree views towards the sea from the south facing terrace. Despite being empty for 24 years there wasn’t a massive amount to do, a bit of renovation, decoration and retaining the character.

What made you fall in love with Herault?

City of Beziers, a hilltop castle dominates the towh which sits alongside a river

I fell in love with the house first then the village, it’s super! Ideally located, and plenty of amenities. A village with predominately French inhabitants, there are 12 independent wine makers here too. There are many Europeans living permanently or with holiday homes here, Swedish, Dutch, German, American, Irish together with a sprinkling of Brits – there is even an English doctor in the village. Paris is just 4 hours by fast TGV and I love to visit my daughter in Milan by train, a ten hour picturesque adventure along the Cote d’Azur.

In this area, you’re spoiled for choice as to how to spend your days. There’s the seaside, walks along the Canal du Midi, Beziers for shopping, eating and wandering around the old centre.

Beziers is known as “Le Petit Paris” due to the abundance of beautiful Haussmannian architecture. It’s the capital of the largest wine making region in the world! It has an amazing history too long to cover now, but here are just a few things it’s famous for: It was a Roman Colony named Beterrae and it’s said that the Romans brought the first wine to this area. One of the oldest wine storage urns was found in Rome with Beterrae engraved on the bottom of it. Residents of Beziers are called Bitterois. Back in the 1200’s it was a Cathar stronghold. And it was the birthplace of Paul Riquet who engineered the Canal du Midi which passes through Beziers to the sea – taking a canal boat trip is a joy.

The Haute Languedoc national park is wonderful. You can take vineyard visits. Enjoy a day in Montpellier, Narbonne or Pezenas which has a wonderful Saturday morning market. You can even drive to Spain for the day and take in the Dali museum.

Property guide to Herault

Some of the most popular places people look atto buy a property are the larger villages less than an hour from the sea. Typically towns with amenities are also popular, so you can go out in the evening to eat and drink and not have to take the car. And plenty of properties come with pools.

What sort of properties are available in Herault

Barge tied up under trees that shade the Canal du Midi, France

If you can compromise on not having outside space then there are some real bargains to be had. Do look at properties without gardens. Many old villages are circulade and houses are built very close to each other. Though they don’t have gardens, you may find properties with a terrace or balcony.

On the other hand for those with a bit more to spend, there are some beautiful properties that owners have spent a small fortune on, and which they will never recoup. There are some real bargain to be had. This area is getting more expensive as people trickle down from the Cote d’Azur in search of a property. Here you get more for your money. The beaches aren’t over developed. The prices for restaurants are reasonable. And the quality of living is excellent.

Are there typical property types in Herault?

Buyers have diverse requirements. Many British property seekers want character village houses with a garden, parking and close to amenities. But typically village houses don’t have gardens or garages unless you buy a vigneronne, which are a bit more expensive. Other buyers seek a more modern villa on the edge of a village. A pool and being close to amenities is quite high up on the list. And then there are those who want a total renovation project.

For those prepared to do their own renovation there are some real bargains to be had. If you have to pay a builder and decorator, you might expect to pay the same again as the cost of the house.

Where should buyers look for property in Herault?

Grape pickers filling buckets with grapes in sunny vineyard in Herault, southern France

Some of the most popular towns for British buyers in Herault are Clermont l’Herault, St Chinian, Faugeres, Pezenas, Cap d’Agde, Sete and of course Beziers. Montpellier is always popular, it’s a beautiful city. However prices for property there have increased greatly, consequently people are looking towards villages and towns close by.

Often overlooked by buyers are villages surrounding hot spots. Take Pezenas for example, it is hugely popular but has delightful satellite villages including Tourbes, Castelnau-de-Gers, Caux, Nezignan l’Eveque. And the tiny delightful village of Conas that really should be considered. The prices in satellite villages are often much less, and some are only a bike ride or a 5 minute drive away. It’s the same with all the most popular towns and large villages. They are surrounded by many lovely places which are overlooked by buyers, but certainly worth checking out.

What is transport like for UK?

Ryanair flies from London Stanstead, Luton and Manchester to Beziers. It only takes an hour and a half. Auto-routes to the area are very good.

Why move to Herault in one sentence?

Herault offers a laid back lifestyle, the sea, glorious countryside, vineyards, city, town and village property – and lots of sunshine!

See Cara’s portfolio of properties: www.frenchestateagents.com

Leggett French property agents seek new agents in several areas, details here: hwww.frenchestateagents.com/pages/recruitment

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