The North of France is popular for its industrial areas, as well as the giant fields of sparsely populated Picardy. This is the most easily accessible area from the UK, thanks to the busy ferry port in Calais. The most popular regions in the North tend to be Brittany and Normandy, Nord-Pas-De-Calais and Picardy, and Paris and Ile-De-France.

 

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Brittany and Normandy

 
This is the closest area of France to the UK, and so traditionally popular for holidays and second homes. Brittany is thought to be one of the most attractive areas of France, and around 20% of all properties are second homes to foreigners. The area is well known for its coastline and beautiful countryside, and property prices are generally seen to be lower than in many other parts of France.

This is the closest area of France to the UK, and so traditionally popular for holidays and second homes. Brittany is thought to be one of the most attractive areas of France, and around 20% of all properties are second homes to foreigners. The area is well known for its coastline and beautiful countryside, and property prices are generally seen to be lower than in many other parts of France.
 
Properties are cheaper to the west and the north, in either Finstere or Cotes d’Armor, whilst the Morbihan area may be a little more expensive.
 
Normandy is known for its culture – its coastline was particularly enjoyed by the Impressionists – Renoir and Cezanne came here to visit Monet who loved to paint here! The area is named after the Norsemen who arrived uninvited from Scandinavia in the 9th Century, and it was from here that William the Conqueror crossed the English Channel to crush the English! The Bayern Tapestry is still one of the biggest tourist attractions, housed in Bayeux’s magnificent cathedral. Normandy’s most fashionable resort is Deauville – an expensive playground for rich Parisians – and its twin town, Trouville is known for its fish restaurants.
 

Brittany is isolated both geographically and in many ways culturally from the rest of France – the Breton language is still practiced in some places. Rennes is the capital of Brittany, a university city known for its picturesque old quarter and a wealth of good restaurants and museums. Hornflour is an old but working fishing port, a favourite of painters throughout the centuries.

 

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Brittany is home to warm winds from the Gulf of Morbihan, which creates mild winters and a Mediterranean climate. This, along with a buoyant market and its proximity to the UK, proves a winning combination for those who live in France and work in the UK. The transport system assists with this, with strong connections around Cherbourg, Dieppe and Caen. Brittany is traditionally the home of British family holiday, and there are an abundance of small villages within easy reach of the coast, ideal for a family holiday home.
 

Getting there

 

Brittany is easily reached by air; Ryanair flies from Stansted and London Luton to Brest, as do Aer Arann and Flybe, and Air France, Ryanair and EasyJet fly to Nantes. Normandy is equally as accessible: Aurigny flies from Guernsey and Jersey, and via Guernsey from Manchester, East Midlands, Bristol, Stansted, Gatwick and Southampton to Dinard – Ryanair also flies here. Air France flies directly from Heathrow to Caen.

There is a good rail network that follows the coast of Brittany, and the high speed TGV runs directly from Paris and Lille into Rennes and across to Brest and Quimper. Local services are also good. The Eurostar travels to Paris, where connecting trains run to Dinan. The TGV also serves Normandy, linking Cherbourg, Bayeux, Caen, Evreux, Le Havre and Rouen before continuing to Paris. Regular services can link the Eurostar from Lille to Le Havre, Dieppe, Caen, Rouen, Cherbourg and Bayeux.
 
Ferries travel frequently into the ports of Saint Malo and Roscoff; the most well-known lines are Brittany Ferries and Condor Ferries. Transmarche Ferries also operate from Newhaven to Dieppe, whilst Hoverspeed Fast Ferries and P&O sail serves this route and Portsmouth to Le Havre.
 
It is also very easy to get to Brittany by car – the autoroute N12/N165 offers easy access into Brittany, across the coast and into Rennes. There are autoroutes from Normandy and the Loire which run into Brittany, as well as the A11 from Paris. The A28/29 offers quick and direct access from Calais to the whole of Normandy, joining the A13 motorway which runs west through Caen and ends in Paris. The A16 runs from Calais to Rouen while the D100 runs down the Manche Peninsula to Avranches.
 

Nord-Pas-De-Calais and Picardy


This region runs with the Belgian border in the north and the English Channel in the west – it is within commutable distance and Lille has a relatively priced house market. This is a perfect location for those who love to be by the sea, although as the closest region to the UK there will not be much of a difference in climate.
 
Seaside resort Le Touquet is ever popular with Parisians and the Brits; this is a good area for short-term rental, especially lovers of golf. Weekend homes are particularly popular due the relatively short transport times, and this is also a great area for holiday homes.
 
The beautiful forest at Hesdin stretches over 100 hectares and this is a land of rolling countryside, Gothic cathedrals and culture. The walled town of Montreuil, where Victor Hugo lived, is only 45 minutes from Calais, and the area is also a great base for exploring the battle site and museum at Agincourt.
 
Picardy is connected to World War I, and the area is dotted with memorials to those who lost their lives at the Battles of the Somme. The beaches around the Somme are unspoilt and sandy, and there is a wonderful feeling of openness here.
 
These regions are often overlooked by British holidaymakers, although the hypermarkets are popular. The capital of Nord-Pas-De-Calais is Lille, France’s 4th largest city; Lille is a bustling town, distinctly Flemish in flavour, with a wonderful weekly market. Calais offers great resale potential, because of its vibrancy and popularity with French purchasers looking to live and work there.
 

Top Tips

 
The coastal stretch of Picardy is studded with small seaside resorts and sandy beaches, and the south of the region is blessed with rolling hills, winding rivers and large forests. The people here are renowned even amongst the French themselves as being ‘sympathique’.

 

Getting there


Ryanair flies to Beauvais from Dublin, Prestwick and Shannon, whilst Air France flies to Lille-Lequin from Heathrow. Lyddair flies to Le Touquet from Lydd.

 
The Eurotunnel runs from Dover to Calais, and the Eurostar serves Lille from London in two hours. The TGV network serves Lille, Calais and Dunkirk.
 
By road, you can take the A26 from Calais through Pas de Calais and Picardy, whilst the A1 runs from Arras through to Picardy. The A16 runs up the French coast, linking all coastal resorts.
 
P&O ferries sail regularly from Dover to Calais, as do SeaFrance and L&D Lines. Norfolkline sails between Dover and Dunkirk, whilst Hoverspeed operates services between Dover and Calais.

 

Paris and Ile-De-France

 
Paris is of course self-explanatory, and is thought to be one of the world’s greatest cities. The city centre can be expensive, but its suburbs are less so – and certainly less than those surrounding London! There are wonderful apartments across the city, typically with wrought iron railings and situated in substantial old buildings. There are also plenty of modern villas outside the inner city. An affordable good sized 3 bed house can be found in the suburbs such as Montmartre in the 18eme, the thriving 9eme and Montparnasse.
 
The areas of Neuilly, Boulogne, Saint-Cloud and Levallois to the west represent peaceful banlieue. Cheaper properties have helped Versailles develop from being purely the site of King Louis XIV’s chateau into a self-contained community with its own identity. Houses here offer more space and a garden for the same price as some Parisian apartments.
 
A quarter of France’s manufacturing industry is situated in Paris; it is an established centre of art, publishing, high fashion clothes and jewellery and more than 8,000 foreign companies including Esso, IBM, Kodak, Honda and Proctor & Gamble. The city is in a period of urban development, and investment here will always be a safe option.
 
Ile-De-France is formed by the capital and its surrounding areas. The central core of Paris is home to 2.1 million people, and the surrounding areas have a population of 11.1 million – more than half as much again as London, although the core of Paris is much smaller than London and far less sprawling.
 
Modern Paris owes its glorious architectural style and structure to Napolean III’s civic planner Baron Haussmann, who removed the slums and laid out the elegant avenues, boulevards and parks. The city is divided into 20 arrondissements organised numerically, and spiralling clockwise out of the centre.
 

Top Tips

 

Paris is by far the most expensive place to live in France, with prices matching those in London for basic commodities. Almost all property in the centre of Paris dates back to 19th Century – most people live in apartments and there are few houses. Prices are still 60-70% of those in London, but there is still a discrepancy between the different arrondissements – the 1st, 2nd, 6th and 7th are the most exclusive and the 13th-17th are largely residential. The 19th and 20th are in general more downmarket areas. Out in the suburbs, prices are very reasonable by London standards.

 

Getting there

 

Air France, Flybe, EasyJet and British Airways all fly to Paris’s international airports. P&O operate ferries to Le Havre, and from all ports access to Paris is very straightforward. SeaFrance and Hoverspeed provide ferries to Calais.
 
Eurostar operates regular services from London St. Pancras to Gare du Nord – the journey times are constantly being cut, making it easy to take a day trip.
 
By road, take the A16 from Calais and the Channel Tunnel south to Amiens and from there the road continues to Paris. There is an express coach service from London Victoria to Gare Routiere. Paris has a comprehensive public metro which is easy to navigate.

 


Further reading for Buying In France

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Viewing Guide

Finding the right property and can be a challenge. What do you need to think about early on?
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Legal Matters

Buying a property in France has very different legal requirements to the UK. 

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Hidden Costs

Spending tens and even hundreds of thousands of pounds on a property in France is a HUGE decision.
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Currency Zone

Did you know that you could save thousands of pounds when emigrating by using a currency specialist?
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Don't forget to download your own copy of the France Buying Guide, your guide to successfully purchase a property in France
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Don't forget to download your own copy of the the Currency Specialists Guide to buying overseas property and consider how to protect yourself financially. 
Download the Guide


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We can put you in touch with a trusted agent in your desired area, who will immediately send you example properties so that you can clearly define what you are looking for in a property.
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