Saone-et-Loire, department 71, is in Burgundy, central France. Named after the Rivers Saone and Loire, it’s a land of charming villages, historic towns and castles such as the fairy tale Chateau de Sully whose courtyard was reputed to be the most beautiful in all of France. In fact there are 190 castles, 25 Romanesque churches, around 100 museums and several caves. There are miles and miles of vineyards, the largest natural park in France, lakes and forests. Bresse in Saone-et-Loire is famous for its poultry production. It’s a land of farmers and wine makers, with an impressive 37 AOP (protected designation of origin) and AOC products. It’s an area that’s synynomous with great food, and its unspoiled and uncrowded.
With good weather and great transport links, Paris is just 1h35m from Macon the principal town, and Lyon airport is one hour by car, Saone-et-Loire is a great place to live.
We talk to Greet Caeyers about life and property in the department. Originally from Belgium she has lived in Saone-et-Loire for 15 years and is a local property agent for Leggett Immobillier.
What’s it like to live in Saone-et-Loire?
When it comes to Burgundy, people think about the wine and the chateaux. But there is so much more to explore. The history and culture of the area are wonderful and the people are friendly. A week after my husband Eddy and I arrived here the Mayor introduced us to everyone at a get-together at the town hall. We’ve been made so welcome and we participate in all the activities from walking to planting flowers in communal areas and streets. I have been a member of the conseil municipale for several years. It’s a very small village with just 180 people, but with a very active community. People look after each other and take care of each other here. And I love that.
We live in an area that is known for its cattle – Charolais beef is amongst the best in the world. The landscape is very lovely. Lush and green with lots of wide open space. And there are lovely old farmhouses with big barns.
We bought a rather run down hotel-restaurant which had been closed for a few years. We renovated it and opened a chambres d’hotes and restaurant.
What is great about where you live in Saone et Loire?
We live in Cressy-sur-Somme. Our village is situated 10km from “le Morvan”, the biggest nature reserve in France. There are five castles in the village, beautiful houses, and we’re surrounded by glorious countryside. Everything is close by, from supermarkets to sports clubs, doctors, cinema, banks, boulangeries and even a thermal spa!
We used to follow our cousin Tom Boonen, a former green jersey winner in the Tour de France. For five years we followed him with our camper van through all of France. So we have seen a lot of this beautiful country. But it was the hills of Burgundy that made the biggest impression on us. The landscape is so beautiful, there is practically no industry in this area, and there are more cows than people! And the weather is good. Soft winters and lovely warm summers. We rented a holiday house in Charolles for 10 days in 2002. My mother still tells me now that when I got back after that holiday she saw something in my eyes when I talked about the area. I loved the green hills.
No matter how long I have lived here I am still constantly amazed by how beautiful this area is.
Expert property guide to Saone-et-Loire
People usually look for big farmhouses with a large plot of land and some barns. Some of them want to keep animals, others want to change the barns into guest houses and start a Chambres d’hotes. But also small village houses are popular where the property prices are lower than in the towns and cities.
Prices have been rising over the last couple of years but property prices here in Saone-et-Loire are still really competitive.
Some of the most well known areas for property seekers include Bourbon-Lancy, Autun – famous for its architecture and 12th century cathedral, Charolles, Paray-le-Monial, Digoin, Luzy, Cluny where the 12th century Abbey was once the largest in the world and Montceau-les-mines.
The Saone-et-Loire lifestyle
There are 565 muncipalities in Saone-et-Loire, more than 80% have less than 1000 inhabitants.
It’s an area that’s brilliant for lovers of the great outdoors, there are cycle and hiking routes galore, water sports, horse riding (the department is known for its tradition of horse breeding), and golf. There’s lots to do for families including a zoo, amusement Parc des Combes and a nature leisure park where you can spend a night in a spaceship!
There are cultural events year round from the performing arts to sound and light shows and music festivals.
And if you’re a wine lover, you’ll be in heaven here. The vineyards of Maranches, Couchois, Côte Chalonnaise, Mâconnais and Beaujolais constitute the largest Burgundy vineyard.
A perfect blend of urban and countryside means that living here provides all the facilities needed for the good life – in an area of outstanding natural beauty.
Top tips: Though a great view might be top of your list, not all properties have a panoramic view – but don’t discount them. Many properties offer something else, we have a little river running through our garden for instance, but no view. If you’re looking in mountainous areas, great views for sure, but often it can be colder and windy.
If you want to use your garden for a swimming pool, games area for kids etc, a flat piece of land will be better. And, when you look for houses in an area with a lot of mountains and woods with high trees, make sure that the sun can reach your land and house. Sometimes you end up staying in the shadows all day.
See Leggett’s properties for sale in Saone-et-Loire