South-West

The south west of France is well known for its wine regions, with several wine-producing areas around Bordeaux. It covers both the upstream areas around the rivers Dordogne and Garonne. The most popular areas in the south-west tend to be Midi-Pyrenees and Dordogne and Aquitaine.

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Midi-Pyrenees

 
This area is known for its beauty and peaceful, friendly population. There is a good seasonal climate here, with traditionally warm summers. This area is popular with those who wish to experience ‘la vraie France’ for their second home. The climate is temperate, and culture abounds in ancient towns such as Auch, Montauban, Cahors and Toulouse. Many of the villages here delight in arranging small fairs, exhibitions and brocantes on a regular basis.
 
This is the largest region of France, and is even bigger than the Netherlands or Denmark; all eight areas of the region should interest second-home buyers. The Midi-Pyrenees is well-known worldwide for its three local ‘products’: the Airbus, Roquefort cheese and the Catholic pilgrimage centre of Lourdes.
 
The administrative capital is Toulouse, sometimes called ‘La Ville Rose’ for its buildings of a pinkish hue. The city is famous for being birthplace of Concore, and is proud of its operatic traditions and long nurtured music and entertainment. Sport, especially rugby, is popular here and indeed throughout most of south-west France.
 
There are excellent transport links throughout this region, meaning you can reach the countryside or ski slopes in only 40 minutes – and only a little bit longer to get to Spain!
 
This area is largely unspoilt, with plenty of rural charm, and is an area often overlooked by potential English purchasers – meaning you can get so much more for your money! Agriculture is the mainstay for most locals in this area; life is slow, helped along by the stunning countryside of gently rolling hills, on the edge of Pyrenees Mountains, sleepy villages and towns and a pleasant climate where each season is celebrated in full.
 

Top Tips

 

The Gers here is an increasingly popular location with British home-buyers, and is known as ‘Little Tuscany’. It is an area of beauty of stunning landscapes, dotted with honey stoned farms, Armagnac and charming ‘bastides’ – fortified towns built in medieval France, starting around 1229. These bastides all have a grid layout and a central market square with a covered weighing and measuring area. To qualify as a bastide, the village must have a maximum of 2000 inhabitants and possess at least 2 sites of historic interest.
 

Getting there

 

This area is very well served by very reasonable and regular air and rail transport, not to mention fast motorways with little traffic. Although a fair way south, it is very easy to visit just for the weekend by air. You can fly to Bordeaux with British Airways from Gatwick and Flybe from Bristol, and to Bergerac with Flybe from Bristol, Southampton and Ryanair from Stansted. British Airways also flies to Toulouse from Gatwick, as does EasyJet – and Ryanair from Belfast, Birmingham, Bristol and Southampton. Jet2 budget airline flies from Leeds Bradford to Toulouse, whilst Ryanair flies from Stansted to Limoges, Pau & Rodez.
 
TGV services run from Gare d’Austerlitz to Bayonne, Biarritz and Toulouse, and from Gare Montparnasse to Bordeaux. By road, you can take the A10 from Paris to Bordeaux and the A63 on to Biarritz. For Pau, take the A64 and for Toulouse, take the A62. Remember to budget for the tolls, the upside of course being that the motorways are extremely well maintained and have far less traffic than those in the UK.
 
If you are looking for somewhere with almost guaranteed long, hot summers, a place brimming with history and the chance to be in Spain or on the ski slopes quickly – this is the place for you!

 

Dordogne and Aquitaine


The Dordogne is located in Aquitaine, and is arguably one of the most popular areas with Brits; this is due to its beautiful countryside, great weather, budget flights and a something of an ‘English’ feel.
 
Geographically, the lush green countryside is largely due to days of blazing sunshine, followed by the odd downpour. The areas varies from the long beaches of the Atlantic coastline and huge tracts of pine forest to the peaks of the Pyrenees and the vineyards of Bordeaux.
 
The Dordogne is second only to Paris with its rich history of monuments and historical artefacts. It was also the first area of rural France to be invaded by British second-home owners, and has its own English monthly newspaper, the News.
 
The capital of Aquitaine is Bordeaux, a thriving city with a population of over 750,000. There is an international school here, which has been influenced by the UK curriculum. There is a great deal of British influence here – shops sell British food and cinemas show films in English. The city of Bordeaux was made a UNESCO Heritage Site in 2007.
 

Top Tips

 

Bergerac is the main market centre for the surrounding maize, vine and tobacco farms. Its prosperity was founded on the tobacco trades. The old quarter is home to numerous late medieval houses and a statue of Cyrano de Bergerac – the town’s literary hero.

There are many farmhouse-type properties available her, often built from rough-hewn limestone, as well as Provencal-style manor houses in the more southern area of the Dordogne. There is a good quality of life here – Bordeaux is a large commercial centre and is easily accessible throughout France.

 

Getting there

 

Flybe services Bergerac with flights from Bristol, Belfast and Birmingham and Ryanair from Stansted and Liverpool. Bordeaux is served by EasyJet from Luton, British Airways from Gatwick, Flybe from Belfast, Bristol, Edinburgh, Glasgow, Jersey and Southampton.
 
The Eurostar travels to Paris, and connecting services connect firstly to Bordeaux in 3 hours, and then the rest of the region. In nine hours you can travel from London to Perigueux via Lille and Libourne. 


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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