The department of Morbihan is in southern Brittany. It’s a land of contrasts, beaches, islands and captivating countryside. Home to Broceliande, a forest that’s said to be where the wizard Merlin once lived. Full of beautiful villages and historic towns like Quiberon and Vannes and going back further in time, Carnac with one of the largest collections of megaliths in Europe. There’s also the beautiful Belle-Ile and the glorious Gulf of Morbihan, classified one of the most Beautiful Bays in the world. The charms of Morbihan are manifold. If you’re dreaming of the good life here, check out our expert property guide to Morbihan.
We talk to Sally Hickey-Pitcher, who lives and works in Morbihan. A former languages teacher from Yorkshire, she is now a local property agent for Leggett and lives with her husband and two children just outside the lovely fortified village of La Roche-Bernard…
What inspired you to move to Morbihan
Warmer weather, accessibility to the UK, affordability and somewhere with cultural events and attractions. The Morbihan coastline has lovely warm summers due to its Atlantic microclimate. This particular area benefits from the unspoilt coastline and associated attractions which appeal to the annual tourists yet we live just 20 minutes from the coast so can be assured of an all year round community, no rows of shuttered up houses out of season and more affordable prices. Throw in a 30 minute drive to Vannes or 50 minutes to Nantes for my shopping fix (not to mention nearest airport) and we have all the boxes ticked.
What made you fall in love with the location?
Coup de coeur as they say – love at first sight. We had intended to move more centrally in Brittany but on the very last day of a house search trip, I suggested checking out La Roche Bernard and surrounding area near the coast. We never left. It was the views from the bridge, the winding streets through the artisanal quarter, the harbour, the lively restaurants, the weekly market. We just knew.
What do you love about Morbihan
There’s so much to see and do here.
Between Morbihan and neighbouring department Loire-Atlantique so we can dip into the charms of the country, coast and the city. There are so many pretty villages and cités de caractère to visit. Rochefort-en-Terre, voted favourite village of the French in 2016, is famous for its Fête des lumières – an annual festival of light which runs for 6 weeks over the Christmas period. Steeped in Celtic history, there are wonderful Megalithic sites. Then there are the fabulous beaches of Morbihan and nearby Loire-Atlantique. Rugged clifftop walks or chic, well known resorts such as La Baule which has the longest beach in Europe, traditional seaside towns and everything in between.
The winters are moderate winters and summers are long and warm. My husband insists on wearing his shorts and inflicting those pasty knees on the local population for 5 months of the year!
Nantes is just 50 minutes away and boasts the Château des Ducs de Bretagne, various museums including Les Machines de l’Île, the home of giant mechanical creatures who roam the streets whilst enacting Jules Vernes’ fantasy world.
There’s so much for the whole family to do here. Crime is low, traffic isn’t an issue. The people are lovely. We were welcomed with flowers on the day of our arrival and the same neighbours witnessed our wedding 15 years later. Our children are not short of grandma figures who have adopted them as their own. There is a healthy, unpolluted lifestyle. Watersports – yachting, canoeing, paragliding, stand up paddle – if you want activities, you’re spoiled for choice.
Expert Property guide to Morbihan
What do most home seekers have on their wish list
People often want properties on the edge of a village, not overlooked but not isolated. Walking distance to a bakery and bar always scores high. Stone longères with wisteria embracing the granite doorway are always popular. Renovation projects that create treasured memories for the owners.
But there are also Neo-Breton houses which people don’t often consider. However when they are introduced to these more modern style houses buyers are often surprised by the size and good value. They often feature traditional styles such as granite lintels and fireplaces. French buyers often like to buy English owned properties, Parisians in particular think Brits have impeccable and chic taste and I’m always looking for British owned houses to add to my portfolio!
This area is popular not just with retirees but also for second home owners, often buying large properties for holidays or rental but with an eye to retirement.
What are some of the most popular places for property buyers in Morbihan
Beganne, La Roche-Bernard and the surrounding countryside are popular. The port. If you have a boat this is a highly desirable location to get a mooring which can be 10% the cost of one in the UK. It’s a very affordable part of the country considering its proximity to the coast. And you might well end up with river views. Also well located if you need to get back to the UK. 2-3 hours from a choice of ports and a choice of 3 airports – Nantes, Rennes and Dinard. Location isn’t just about desirability but practicality and in this location you have excellent transport options and authentic France.
A couple of places that sometimes don’t get considered but are worth looking at are Plage de Goulumer. If you ignore the sign for Les Plages as you head to Pénestin you’ll instead stumble across a little hidden bay, sheltered from passers by magnificent red rocks which close like dramatic curtains around you, shielding you from the tourists. From there you can watch the paragliders leaping from the clifftops on La Mine d’Or beach opposite. Even at the height of summer you might find yourself sharing this ample sized bay with perhaps 1 or 2 other families as it is so little known. And Le Guerno. As well as having Branféré wildlife park on the outskirts, it is a very small village with a rich history of great architectural beauty associated with the Knights of the Templar.
What can home buyers get for their money?
You’ll find excellent do-er upper renovation projects from around €60,000. But if you don’t want to spend all your time renovating, a 2 to 3 bedroom house will set you back around €140,000. If you want to be close the coast you’ll pay a premium price of up to €250,000. It’s all down to location though rather than average price. There are some great bargain properties to be found. They may need to be updated cosmetically and upgraded in terms of insulation, windows, kitchens, bathrooms etc but offer a beautiful home in the long term at a great price.
Property moves fast here though. This is a highly desirable area of France where house prices are prising. Nantes and Vannes are highly sought after locations by professionals.
And if you need one more reason to love this area: Kouign Amman. It’s the unhealthiest cake in the world – best avoided by anyone lacking self-control because it’s utterly delicious!
See Sally’s portfolio of properties in Morbihan and Loire Atlantique
See more properties for sale in France at Leggett Immobillier