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Memories Of French Winters

Posted by admin on January 31, 2019

This morning, in Somerset, I awoke to blue skies and frosty fields. The brightness, which replaced the many grey days on an English winter, made me aware of how much I miss all the winters I have spent in France. Having lived in Limousin for 15 years and Languedoc Roussillon for 10 years I have two distinctly different types of winter memories but both are very special and a cold, sunny day like today makes me nostalgic for both.

Winter in Limousin France

In Limousin my winter memories are mainly of lovely early morning walks, collecting mushrooms and kindling along the deserted lanes and across the fields. It was a rare day that didn’t start with wild mushrooms on toast eaten by a log fire.

Winter in Languedoc Roussillon

In Languedoc Roussillon my memories are more of basking in the winter sun at my favourite café, enjoying the company of locals with no noisy tourists clamouring for attention. I loved living in both parts of France and in all seasons but a sunny winter’s day in England fills me with nostalgia.

Buying property in Limousin

Limousin, In Nouvelle Aquitaine, is a popular destination for U.K. property buyers looking for inexpensive rural property. It is located in central south west France and being below the River Loire it enjoys a warmer and sunnier climate than the U.K. However, most U.K. buyers are attracted to the area because of its peace and tranquility; it is often referred to as ‘the land where time stood still’ and this is well deserved. In the 40 years that I have known Limousin little of significance has really changed! Some villages have more flowers, some now sport more cafés, there are places to buy ice creams at the numerous leisure lakes and that really is all the change I have seen other than the people who now live and holiday there.

Interested in buying property in France?

Because of the rural nature of the Limousin area there is little employment which resulted in a lot of empty properties as the young, working age population were forced to move into the towns, or even other regions, in search of work. Over my 40 years of acquaintance with Limousin I have seen so many of these characterful farmhouses and cottages being bought mainly by Brits and the Dutch. Small hamlets have been revitalised and many villages have been enabled to keep their primary schools open as children from other countries have moved into the area.

Bargain properties in Limousin

Limousin is an ideal place to look for a property for anyone wanting to move to France and is particularly tempting for those on low budgets. It is not only it’s easy-to-live-with climate and it’s beautiful landscape and peaceful lifestyle but the abundance of rural properties for sale means that prices are cheap and for many people it means that they can buy a family home for around £100,000.

Some properties come with lots of outbuildings meaning that it is possible for anyone needing to create an income to consider converting extra buildings into holiday homes. Obviously it is important to check carefully that you can get planning permission to make such changes to a property if that is what you plan to do. I have known so many British families make amazing success of buying a property and living in Limousin. In some ways the countryside is very similar to much of England, there are many expats around to offer help while you settle in and the local people respect and welcome foreigners who want to live in their departement. The majority of Brits who buy homes in Limousin do so because they love the rural way of life.  The locals do not  so readily welcome Parisiens, viewing them as city folk who patronise the local populations treating them as ‘peasants’.  So, if you are looking for a bargain property in a rural location in an area where you are almost certain to be welcomed then seriously consider Limousin, the Lake District of France.

Buying coastal property in Languedoc-Roussillon

Languedoc-Roussillon, in Occitanie, has attracted property buyers from all over the world for many years. Most property buyers are drawn to the area for its Mediterranean lifestyle with the olive groves, lavender fields, vineyards, beaches, and azur blue sea as well as the 300+ days of sunshine each year. House Buyers in Languedoc-Roussillon are also aware that they can enjoy this lifestyle without breaking the bank as property prices are significantly lower than in adjoining Provence. Having lived in the area for more than 10 years I appreciated the closeness of Provence and the ability to ‘dip my toe’ into the luxurious lifestyle along the Côte d’Azur from time to time but I was always glad that my home was in Languedoc-Roussillon where I could enjoy the more traditional French lifestyle away from so many tourists.

When it comes to choosing a property prices range from £80,000 for an inland French village house to £150,000 for a small seaside apartment. There are also new villas and houses close to the coast ranging upwards from £250,000. Prices are always higher closer to the coast but Languedoc-Roussillon does offers some properties within easy reach of the sea to suit most budgets. You don’t need to be a millionaire to live close to the Mediterranean you just need to move away from the Côte d’Azur to Languedoc-Roussillon where you can also enjoy the free beaches rather than the expensive private beaches of Nice, Cannes and St. Tropez.

Buying rural property in Languedoc-Roussillon

If close proximity to the sea is not important then the hinterland of Languedoc-Roussillon is absolutely beautiful with gorges, hills, plains, rivers and lakes, all shimmering in the beautiful sun. The inland villages are charming, and it’s hard to beat time spent sipping a glass of local wine at a pavement café  watching life pass by. For me it’s the tall, dark cypress trees, the beauty of the local architecture with its collonaded market squares, the smell of the lavender fields and the deep blue skies that make this part of France so very special. Much as I loved day trips to the coast my preference was certainly to live inland amongst such a special landscape and where there remains a sense of a traditional French way of life. I guess this choice was lucky for me as properties away from the coast are much better value and tend to be architecturally more special. Whereas much of the coast is newly developed, the towns and villages away from the coast date back to medieval times with their buildings having so much history to share. For me the ideal is to live close enough to enjoy a day at the beach but far away from the coastal stretch to share a truly French lifestyle amidst some of the most beautiful landscape that France has to offer,

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