Tarn-et-Garonne in south west France is one of the smallest departments in France but that doesn’t mean there’s not plenty to fall in love with. Named for the two mighty rivers which flow through it – the Tarn and the Garonne, it’s an area of outstanding natural beauty, gorges and forests, fields and vineyards pepper the landscape.
Though not as well-known as some departments, its offers a laid back lifestyle, great gastronomy, pretty medieval villages and property at prices not seen in the UK for decades.
We talk to Sue Kelly and Richard Comfort who moved from Kent to Roquecor in Tarn-et-Garonne in 2019 and trained to work as agents for Leggett Immobillier. They share their tips for our expert property guide to Tarn-et-Garonne.
Sue: I worked in banking in the city of London, as an estate agent in Kent and as a teacher and Head teacher.
Richard: I worked as a teacher in Kent and took early retirement to move to France.
What inspired you to move to the Tarn-et-Garonne
We previously had a holiday home in an isolated area in North Dordogne. We loved our village but wanted more sunshine and amenities close by. Though we still desired the peace and quiet we also wanted to be able to reach bigger shops and leisure facilities such as a gym in less than 30 minutes.
We decided to look in the Cordes-sur-Ceil, Gaillac, Albi triangle in the Tarn, but were unable to find anything we liked in our price range.
Each time we drove back we stopped in the Lot valley and realised very quickly that we loved the area. Cahors is a beautiful and compact city and the river and vineyards around Luzech and Prayssac are lovely. So we decided to spend more time looking in this area, and the more we came the more we loved it. In the end we discovered that we preferred the more open countryside on the south side of the Lot river rather than the denser forest areas of the north. We found our dream home just over the border in the Tarn-et-Garonne.
What is your house like?
We have a Maison de Maitre, like a miniature mansion. It looks very grand from the outside and is perched half-way up a hill overlooking the beautiful landscape of Roquecor. It is a traditional stone house, the rooms are all large and have high ceilings and there is a top floor that is unconverted.
We also have a second house, also built into the hill which we run as a gite. Both properties have pools and big gardens, and we’re surrounded by farmers’ fields.
What made you fall in love with Tarn-et-Garonne?
The house was everything that we had been looking for. As we drove up to it in the car for the first time with the agent, I could not believe my eyes. I was totally taken with the view, the location, the space and the size of the rooms. It had the peace and quiet we wanted but was still within easy reach of villages and towns that we liked. Roquecor is an amazing village with a good social life all year round. Montaigu de Quercy, our nearest small town has a great International Club which has weekly activities all year round.
We are within easy reach of 3 different rivers: the Lot, the Tarn and the Garonne. These all have walks, canoes, boats and beaches to explore. There are lovely restaurants all around us. We are also surrounded by the Cahors vineyards, great for tours and tastings.
There’s lots to do and see. Nature lovers will find the Gorges de l’Aveyron truly sensational. Saint-Antonin-Noble-Val, which was the location for the film the 100 Foot Journey is picture postcard pretty. The Causses du Quercy National Park is outstanding for hikers.
Expert property Guide to Tarn-et-Garonne
Where are some of the most popular places for expats and why?
Roquecor is a very popular place for expats as well as the French. The Café du Centre is a popular expat drinking and eating place and attracts many British people as well as Belgian, Dutch, American and French. Montaigu de Quercy is also popular with plenty of amenities, and the International Club is visited by people up to an hour’s drive away. Both towns host weekly markets which are very popular.
Most buyers seek isolated properties with no close neighbours. They want character and old stone houses with gites to rent out. Most want a lot of land but to be within walking or easy distance of a village or town with amenities.
Where should property seekers look in the Tarn-et-Garonne?
Tarn-et-Garonne is often overlooked. Like most, we were drawn to the more well-known destinations – Lot, Tarn and Dordogne, but there are hidden gems to be discovered. From where we are, Toulouse and Bergerac airports are just over an hour’s drive. Agen, 30 minutes away has a TGV station with direct links to Paris and Bordeaux. There are quite a few large towns all less than an hour away. It’s knowing where to look that helps you find the best properties in stunning locations.
Are there typical property types in the Tarn- et-Garonne?
Quercy stone – light whiter stone than the Dordogne. Most people seek traditional stone houses with character. Many houses have pools or enough land to have one installed – and there’s a good choice of excellent companies locally. Some search for a “lock up and leave” type town house and these are available in the local “bastide” towns, often enjoying spectacular views over surrounding countryside. The dream house for many has character, space, is immediately habitable but has scope to improve.
What can home buyers get for their money?
A detached house with land that needs renovating starts from about €100k. A ready to live in house with 2+ bedrooms, an acre of land and pool start around €200k. The majority of our portfolio consists of stone houses in the €230k to €320k price range located in the countryside or in small hamlets and villages. We do have gite complexes and larger houses with gites up to around the million mark.
What 3 key pieces of advice do you give to your clients when they’re looking for property in the area?
Work with an agent you feel comfortable with and give them as much detail as you can about your wish list. Ask you agent to plan your viewing trip to maximise the use of your time.
Look beyond the décor and views when viewing a property. Consider potential coasts of a new roof, electrics, heating and plumbing etc.
Make sure you have enough money to do what you would like to do.
If you are worried about retiring early or making the move to France, don’t let that put you off. We have not found it easy but have never regretted it. Our life has changed so much in the space of a year and we now have a much better quality of life, lots of friends and plenty to keep us occupied.
See Sue and Richard’s portfolio of property in Tarn-et-Garonne
Find out about becoming an agent for Leggett: https://www.frenchestateagents.com/pages/recruitment