We talk to Mathilde de Saint Martin who lives in Landes in south west France. Landes is one of those places that the French love and foreigners rarely hear of. With 100km of sandy beaches and numerous resorts on the Atlantic Coast; inland there are forests and valleys with picturesque villages and Roman ruins. It’s a hot spot in waiting for expats we think.
Originally from Paris, Mathilde spent childhood holidays at the home of her grandmother in Soustons, Landes where she now lives and works as a local agent for Leggett Immobillier.
What is your house like? Did you need to do a lot of renovation?
My house is the second one I have renovated. Both are old houses located in the same rural area, only 10km from the beach and 1.5km from the town centre. It is a fantastic location, surrounded by fields and forests; birds, squirrels, deer and many other animals live there. It’s very beautiful!
What made you fall in love with Landes?
Soustons is an attractive small town, alive throughout the year, offering an exceptional quality of life. It’s in a beautiful situation, bordered by 100km of sandy beaches, pine forests and lakes. If you love sports and nature then Landes offers lots of possibilities. There’s nautical entertainment, golf, cycling trails, and much more. And if you love fine food, the weekly markets are where you can buy delicious local products.
It is fantastic to live less than 1h from Spain, at the gates of the Pays Basque and the Pyrenees. To the north, Bordeaux, a UNESCO World Heritage Site is only 1.30h away.
The Pays Basque boasts a huge heritage of traditional villages. The landscape is green and wooded, with hills and mountains. The coastline is beautiful with famous resorts like Biarritz and Saint-Jean de Luz. All year round, the pyrénées offer breath-taking views. Living nearby is great for winter sports or hiking.
In Landes there is a wide network of roads and motorways. The nearest airports are Biarritz, Pau and Bordeaux and the train to Paris takes just 3 hours and twenty minutes.
What would you do on a day off in your area?
This is very much a tourist area. There’s loads to do all year round though much more in summer. On a day off I love going to the Pays Basque. One time it will be inland, another time Biarritz or Saint Jean de Luz. Biarritz is a lovely coastal town, famous both for its glamorous lifestyle and relaxed atmosphere. Saint Jean de Luz is a nice old city with a port and a typical traditional architecture. Both are proud of their history and their culture – I love that!
What advice do you have for home hunters in Landes and around?
I went into the real estate field because I love buildings and I enjoy working with people. Finding the perfect home is one of the most stressful things for people to deal with. When I help people buy and sell a home, it can be emotional and one of the most important things I can do is to make sure their expectations are realistic.
To help my clients choose the right location of their house, I help them discover beautiful places in the area that they may not find without a local’s expertise. I connect them with the best local business too which can help smooth their new life.
I tell my clients to be both patient and reactive. Patient because it may take time before finding the ideal home, reactive because if you hesitate when you find the right home, it may be lost. You need to focus on what is essential for you because it is important to know that you might have to make compromises.