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Guide to house types in the Pays Basque France

We asked local estate agent Mathilde de Saint Martin about the type of housing you can buy in the Pays Basque area and Landes:

Traditional basque-style building

A “baserri” is a traditional half-timbered or stone-built type of  farmhouse found in the Basque Country in Northern Spain and Southwestern France. The baserris, with their gently sloping roofs and entrance portals, are highly characteristic of the region and form a vital part in traditional Basque societal structures. Although different building styles exist with features specific to each region, most share a common core design. Most have three floors with stables within the building and a gently sloping roof, stone supporting walls and internal constructions made largely from wood.

Specific house style in Biarritz

The birth of the town dates to the late nineteenth century when Napoleon III and the Empress Eugenie, the crowned heads of Europe and wealthy families of the time made the town popular. From 1876 to 1881, nearly three hundred homes were built in a cosmopolitan seaside Biarritz: castles, mansions and beautiful residences, parks and fields with their majestic alleys, perspectives and views of the ocean.

In the 1920s, Biarritz was booming and tourism was developing. A regionalist architecture emerged, combining the comfort of beautiful bourgeois villas to the specifics of the local architecture which is the originality of the neo-Basque style that developed in Biarritz. At the same time, the Art Deco style emerged. This amazing architectural variety characterizes the identity of the city and its charm.

Traditional Landais-style building

The” Oustau” is a traditional half-timbered house provided with a roof in three pieces in “tail of wood pigeon”. It was completely built by the carpenter who, for the longest beams, used the wood from oak trees in the community forests. Walls were made from cob, a mixture of straw and clay. From the 19th century, the cob was replaced in certain sectors by flat bricks.

Specific house style in Hossegor

Between the two great wars, around four hundred splendid villas were built all over Hossegor, on the sea front, on the lakeside, along the golf course. The seaside resort stands out for the unity and originality of its unusual style. The Basco-landaise house is a mixture of Art Deco influences that are sometimes Spanish and underline the identity of the town. Hossegor soon became the workshop for visionary architects who reconciled modern techniques and regional inspiration, thus inventing a new style. While some villas have now been sold to developers and converted into flats, the majority have been restored and Hossegor is dotted with a cluster of buildings whose harmony and architectural qualities add to the interest and beauty of the town.

By Mathilde de Saint Martin, local agent at Leggett Immobillier.

Mathilde’s portfolio of property can be viewed here

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