France Regional Information

France is the third largest country in Europe with a surface area of approximately five hundred and forty-seven thousand square kilometres.  This is more than double the size of the UK, although Canada and the USA are each about eighteen times larger than France.  With a total population of 60m it is almost identical to that of the UK or Italy, and somewhat less than Germany which has over 80m.  However, due to the relatively large size of France, its population density is only half that of its neighbours UK, Italy or Germany. This low density has helped keep land prices comparatively low, which is one of the reasons French property is generally more affordable than the UK and other western European countries.

Aquitaine & The Dordogne

The Dordogne is the third largest department France. As well as numerous picturesque villages, it also boasts an incredible 4,000 chateaux and is regarded by many as one of the most beautiful regions of France. Traditionally it has been one of the most popular departments for foreign buyers including many British, Irish and Dutch home owners. Like many departments of France, the Dordogne is named after the river that flows through it. Culinary claims to fame include foie gras, duck and goose which are regional specialities. The department is divided into four distinct territories.

Green Périgord in the North derives its name from the numerous lush green valleys and woodland and is home to the Périgord-Limousin Regional Natural Park. The major towns in the area are Nontron and Riberac as well as Brantome – affectionately known as the Venice of the Dordogne.
White Périgord is in the centre of the department which derives its name from its natural limestone plateaux. Here you will find the capital of the Dordogne, Périgueux, with it’s attractive shopping centre and historic old town.
Purple Périgord is in the South West of the department, and is named after the area's grapes which are put to good use in Bergerac, the capital of this wine producing region. The area was of great strategic importance during the hundred years war, and houses a number of fortified villages, castles and chateaux built by both the English and the French.

Black Périgord is located in the south-east.  With it’s deep valleys and ancient forests, it contains the towns of Saint-Cyprien and Sarlat-la-Caneda, which are both popular with foreign buyers.  The nearest international airports are Limoges, Bergerac and Bordeaux which have regular flights between the UK, and the department has good motorway and TGV access. 
Lot-et-Garonne is located in the south-west corner of France midway between Toulouse and Bordeaux, 2 hours to the Atlantic coast and the Pyrenees and 3 hours to the Mediterranean. Popularly referred to as the Tuscany of France because of its yellow fields of sunflowers, vineyards, cypress trees and red roofed buildings, this department of the Aquitaine has excellent motorway & rail links plus an airport at Bergerac. The area has a plethora of unspoiled villages and bastide towns with rivers and the canal latéral de la Garonne (part of the canal du Midi) running through, up which the last few remaining working barges still navigate.
The views are expansive and comprise rolling hills and valleys of agricultural land. Much of the produce grown is well known in France - prunes of Agen, tomatoes and strawberries of Marmande, Armagnac brandy, apples, pears, kiwis and cherries. It is also a prolific wine growing area with Duras and Buzet being the most well known.  On the gastronomic front, the most recognisable of the region is duck in its many forms such as foie gras, magret and gésiers. You’ll regularly pass duck farms and vineyards as you travel around which sell their produce direct to the public.
There are many chateaux in the Lot-et-Garonne as well as Medieval towns including Castillones, Monflanquin and Villereal. This area can produce great results if you are searching for high-end properties such as manoirs. Much of the department is marked out for ramblers and cyclists along designated paths where you'll be enveloped by peace and tranquility, with many local villages being linked by these routes.
Morning markets are an all-year-round affair in many towns and villages in the region, and during the summer many of these towns hold lunchtime and evening producers' markets, where food and drink is consumed in a convivial environment. 
The château at Duras plays host to opera, classical concerts and the occasional rock concert. There are the producers' markets, wine fairs, antique fairs, village fetes and the vide greniers which is France's wonderful alternative to the car boot sale - a must for any collector.
Gironde is the largest french department with 2170 miles of rivers and 72 miles of coastline, and thanks to Bordeaux is home to 1.3 million people. It is named after the estuary that was formed by the Garonne and Dordogne rivers. The department is most famous for its sandy beaches, delectable mussels and fine wines. Summer is hot, with the occasional storm and Winter is usually mild.

Bordeaux is the capital of the department and also where the main wine industry is located. Being a bustling, cosmopolitan city, it contrasts with the traditional atmosphere found in wine-producing communities. The city has an elegant shopping centre, including the longest shopping street in Europe plus many great restaurants. The port town of Langon is located to the south of Bordeaux and is the highest point on the river Garonne. The area has many stunning villages including St Emilion with its chic boutique shopping and wonderful vineyard scenery.

The Aquitaine Atlantic coast attracts a number of surfers, and is considered to be the best surfing spot due to its high waves. The Bassin d'Arcachon offers a more relaxing experience, and if you like mussels this area produces France's fourth largest supply.

British Airways, Flybe, Easyjet and Air France all fly to Bordeaux from most UK airports, and the TGV can get you from Bordeaux to Paris in under 4 hours.

Poitou Charente

Deux-Sevres situated below the Loire in the region of Poitou Charente in Western France. It derives its name from the two rivers running through it- the Sevre Nantaise in the north and the Sevre Niortaise in the south. The climate is very similar to that of the Mediterranean with long hot summers, though the winters can be very cold with temperatures dropping below freezing during December and January. This climate can be an attractive option for buyers from hotter countries such as Singapore, where temperatures rarely dip from 30 degrees all year round.

Niort, the department capital, was a Roman town that did extremely well under the Plantagenets who granted the town a charter and built a stronghold which was completed by Richard the Lionheart. In the 18th century the town specialized in tanning skins imported from Canada to make chamois leather for gloves, and it is also known for its angelica. More recently Niort has attracted several large mutual insurance companies which has bolstered its economy and attracted young people who now work there.

Bressuire is known for its major cattle markets, and is the centre of some rich and picturesque scenery used for cattle breeding and rearing, and the landscape is similar to that of rural England or the Dordogne.  Melle is a green and florally decorated town that has its origins as a centre for lead and silver mining, as well as minting coins. Melle was on one of the main routes for pilgrims heading for Compostella in Spain. Parthenay is located to the north of Niort was founded in 1020 on an outcrop above the river, and the medieval town has kept its character.

Poitiers and La Rochelle airports provide easy access to the Department, with Ryanair flights from UK Stansted. British Airways currently offer flights from Gatwick to Nantes which is a 2-hour drive. Cross-channel travelers can reach Deux-Sevres by car which is a 4 hour drive from Caen and St Malo, or just over 5 hours from Cherbourg.
Charente-Maritime is the coastal department of Poitou-Charente which boasts 420km of sandy beaches under some of the sunniest skies in the whole of France. There are also three separate islands, each with its own unique atmosphere. Inland, Romanesque architecture features heavily with La Rochelle being the capital and home to around 120,000 people, a great number of whom are students from the university. Regardless of the weather La Rochelle has an active cultural scene throughout the year, a pedestrianised marina with cobbled streets and two impressive 14th century towers.  Away from the mainland, the Ile de Ré is a large island completely encircled by fine and mostly sandy beaches. In August the population increases dramatically, mainly due to holidaying families.

A number of airports serve the region including Tours, La Rochelle, Nantes and Poitiers, all of which have direct flights to the UK. La Rochelle and Ile de Re are extremely popular holiday destinations and so have an active rental market.


Haute-Vienne is predominantly an agricultural department located in central France and is divided by the Vienne River which flows from east to west. In the middle, the river splits into another river, the Isle, which flows into the bordering department of the Dordogne. The principal industry of Haute-Vienne is porcelain, most of which is manufactured in the departmental capital, Limoges. The department has a number of natural and man-made lakes, such as the Lac de Vassivière and the Lac de St Mathieu, many of which have beaches, fishing, boating and watersports.
Limoges has produced fine enamel work since the 12th century and still exports a large number of luxury goods. It has a university and thriving nightlife, as well as an attractive city centre with major shops as well as winding, narrow lanes with boutiques and cafés.

Other places of note are Bellac, a small town with just 5,000 inhabitants which is close to the Lac de St Pardoux, as well as Rochechouart with its magnificent chateau.
 Limoges-Bellegard airport is 5 minutes to the west of Limoges and has direct flights to and from the UK. The TGV connection to Paris makes Haute-Vienne the most accessible department within the Limousin, therefore prices are slightly more expensive than the Creuse or the Correze.
Creuse is France's hidden department and forms part of the Limousin region. You have to leave the beaten track to find the many interesting and attractive towns and hamlets dotted around the area. Guéret is the capital of the department and has around 15,000 inhabitants, which gives you an idea how sparsely populated this department is. The proximity of the town to both the River Creuse and the Lac du Cortille mean that plenty of watersports are available for both holidaymakers and residents alike. Bourganeuf has less than 3,500 inhabitants yet has a rich and affluent history, as the Knights Templar had their headquarters here for many years. La Souterraine is another popular small town, steeped in history and has drawn much interest from archaeologists over the years thanks to its 13th century crypt.

The Creuse has some diverse landscapes, from the vast plains of the Berry to the North, the hilly landscape of the Auvergne to the east and woodland to the south. Property prices are still very low when compared to other areas of France. The easiest way to access the Creuse from the UK is to fly into Limoges, or catch the TGV from Paris.
Correze is situated on the western edge of the Massif Central and contains some of the prettiest villages in France. Agriculture is still the main economy with arable land making up around one third of the department. There are two main rivers cutting through the landscape, the Vezere and the Dordogne. The latter has been tamed by a total of five dams producing a number of large lakes in the south.
Tulle, with a population of 15500, is the department capital. It stretches over 3 km on both banks of the River Correze. There's a vibrant market held every Wednesday in front of the Gothic and Romanesque Cathedral which sells lace, clothes and an extensive selection of local produce.
Brive-la-Gaillarde with a population of around 52,000 is the largest town in the department and has an attractive city centre as well as an excellent infrastructure.
Collonges la Rouge with its bright red sandstone houses is one of them. It is adorned with flowers and surrounded by a lush green landscape. There's a half-Romanesque church in the centre, which was once used by pilgrims stopping off on their way to Compostela. Beaulieu-sur-Dordogne is one of the most attractive medieval villages in France. Finally, Treignac is one of the largest villages on the list. It is very lively and has much on offer.

Limoges and Rodez airport have regular flights to the UK, and the A20 and A89 which run through the department offer great access both North/South and West/East. The TGV currently runs to Limoges with links to Brive la Gaillarde planned for the future.

The Auvergne

Auvergne is the least expensive région for property in France and isn't popular with foreign buyers, although there is a tourist industry - Le Puy-en-Velay, with its strange volcanic skyscrapers is particularly popular, but mostly with visitors passing through on autoroutes to the south or across the borders. For the very active and outdoorsy types, who can take or leave museums and restaurants, Auvergne could make a wonderful base for a second home. Even though the pace of life is slow, there are plenty of thrilling adventures to be had. It is outstanding riding, hiking and mountain climbing country and there are lakes where you can swim, sail, windsurf, and fish. You can also white water raft and kayak through the gorges of the Allier and Sioule rivers. Other outdoor opportunities include paragliding and ballooning.
There are several ski resorts so, for the energetic, the Auvergne is an ideal place to visit at all times of year. Summers in Auvergne are long and warm, with temperatures often reaching 30 degrees punctuated by short sharp thunderstorms. The uplands are cooler and at altitudes of over 1000m, snow frequently lies until May. Although much of the région is remote, good road and rail routes pass through and there are air connections nearby.

Volcanic activity started here around 20 million years ago so the région's mountains are older than the Alps or the Pyrenees. The youngest volcanoes around the Puy de Dôme are just 5000 years old. The many extinct volcanoes that dimple the landscape make the région a strange, but enigmatically beautiful place. There are also spectacular gorges, and geesers, lakes, streams, rivers and thick vast forests. Hot springs and mineral cold springs attract many curistes who come seeking relief from rheumatism, arthritis and digestive ailments.
Auvergne's beauty wasn't, of course, enough to stem an exodus from the région and it is now heavily depopulated and poor. Its ageing population proves there could be some truth in its reputation for being rustic and backwards. Today the population continues to diminish, no longer because of migration to find work, but because the number of births are not superior to the number of deaths. Proportionately the number of people over 75 matches the number under 20. It's predicted that between 2010 and 2030 the population with diminish a further 8%.
The Cantal is a department in the south west section of the Auvergne region and forms part of the Massif Central. It is an exciting and diverse department. The south of Cantal borders the Lot and Averyon (Midi Pyrenees) and Corrèze (Limousin) and therefore benefits from long warm springs going into the hot summers and long warm autumns with short winters and even in December temperatures can reach up to 20°C mid-day. Aurillac is the capital of Cantal and boasts a very attractive medieval quarter, a regular train service leading to all of France including Paris and a direct daily flight to Paris.

From Aurillac heading north the road will lead you quickly through to the famous mountains of the Cantal which are extinct volcanoes where the winters tend to be longer and colder. These mountains are stunning, reaching to heights of almost 2,000 metres and where the weather station for Aurillac can be found along with excellent skiing and winter sports during the winter months. Cantal is also a very popular holiday destination and well worth considering if you are wishing to offer holiday accommodation such as a bed and breakfast establishment or gîtes, because of the many varied activities that can be found from golf courses, hiking, walking, paragliding, horse riding, mountain biking, cycling, waters sports in the rivers and lakes as well as white water kayaking through the wild river gorges, working cheese farms and museums to visit and the historic medieval towns of Salers steeped in history and famous for its cows and cheese, nearby Tournamire one of the most beautiful villages in France.

Rodez, Limoges and Brive international airports are all within 1 ½ hours drive. There are regular train services throughout Cantal leading to all the large towns and cities in France. The department is becoming popular with international buyers thanks to its stunning scenery, medieval towns, mountains, rivers and valleys, woodlands, working farms, chateaux, lakes, vibrant towns with weekly markets yet properties with bags of character and charm are still available at reasonable prices.

Midi Pyrenees

Aveyron is the largest department in the Midi-Pyrenees. It has around 270,000 inhabitants today, while evidence of human civilisation has been found here dating back thousands of years. Like much of the Massif Central in which it is located, it has spectacular landscapes with great scope for canoeing and rock-climbing. Aveyron's most famous export is Roquefort cheese, which is produced with the large sheep population that grazes in the south.

Rodez, the prefecture, is an attractive city in a pleasant natural environment. It was founded on top of a hill overlooking the Aveyron River. At the highest point there is a charming Notre Dame cathedral built, curiously, in a Gothic style.

The medieval town of Belcastel has a huge amount of preserved architecture, and boasts a 15th Century Chateaux and the medieval bridge. Further along, you will discover Villefrance-de-Rouergue, a town that has never lost its bustling, market atmosphere. The old houses demonstrate the early affluence the town achieved, mainly through the production of wool and the extraction of silver from the local mines.

The town of Millau, has a population of 22,300 and is situated alongside the river Tarn in the southeast. It is situated, in fact, on the very border of the department and has long been plagued by an identity problem. The town's culture is much closer tied to Languedoc than the Midi-Pyrenees. It is a great town for anyone with a love of outdoor pursuits.

Ryanair will take you directly to Rodez from London Stansted. If you'd like to get there by land then it is recommended to use the fast and comfortable TGV train service, which will take you to Toulouse from where you can get another train into Rodez.
Whilst property prices have been going up for the whole region in recent years thanks to budget airlines making the area more accessible, prices are still reasonable compared to many other parts of the region.
The Haute-Garonne department stretches right down the middle of the Midi-Pyrenees and is home to both a bustling metropolis in the shape of Toulouse, and a rural landscape of undulating hills and valleys. It has the fastest growing population in the region thanks to its universities and aerospace industries.

The department accounts for around half the population of the entire region, the majority of whom reside in the capital, Toulouse. The north is comprised of an undulating landscape with small hills and valleys, while the south rises up towards the Pyrenees. Toulouse is the capital of both the department and the region. Toulouse was once part of the Languedoc, but following a restructuring of boundaries in the 1960S it fell into the Midi Pyrenees region.

Toulouse is a crucial centre for education in the region with more students than any other provincial city in France. Toulouse is known as 'la ville rose' or 'the pink city' due to the predominant colour of the bricks used in the architecture, and it has been something of a success story since World War II, heralding major innovations in aerospace and other advanced technologies. St Gaudens in the Garonne valley is the traditional capital of the region. It is a cultural and historical gem thought to be one of the prettiest towns in the region. The surrounding area is abundant with a number of castles and ancient churches.

Toulouse has its own airport, which makes getting there very easy, especially when there are so many airlines arriving from various European destinations including the UK. The TGV train service also stops in Toulouse, and the A20 allows easy access to the North to Paris.
The region has seen a substantial increase in property prices over the last few years. Toulouse is naturally the most expensive city in which to have a property, but most foreign buyers have chosen to buy french property in the more relaxed suburbs where their money stretches further.
The Tarn-et-Garonne, found in the north-west of the Midi-Pyrénées, has developed from what was once part of Gascony and the now much smaller region of Languedoc. This fusion has created a diverse and relaxed department, which combines the very best of these two cultures.  There are three rivers making their way through the Tarn-et-Garonne; the Tarn, the Garonne and the Aveyron. The department enjoys a steady, warm climate. Most of the heavy downpours which keep the land lush occur in the spring. The rest of the year is usually sunny. 

Montauban is the departmental capital and is home to just over 53,000 people. There are many museums and ancient buildings to explore in Montauban, including France's second oldest bastide. Moissac is a small, friendly town and houses the glorious Abbaye de St-Pierre. St-Antonin Noble Val is one of the region's oldest settlements and is to be found beneath the towering Roc d'Anglais, alongside the River Aveyron. It makes a great base for exploring the wild countryside and the Grotte du Bosc caves.

There is a wide range of airlines flying to both Toulouse and Rodez from the UK. The TGV will get into Toulouse in under 4 hours from Paris, and the department has a great road infrastructure.
Ariege was once an independent country with a proud identity. It is located on France's southern border next to Spain and Andorra and contains vast areas of countryside unspoilt and largely unpopulated. The department is ideal for people wanting to get away from it all.
The capital of Ariege is Foix, a small town but with a lot of charm. Two rivers and one mighty rock surround the town giving it a very picturesque natural setting, and it has survived a number of attacks keeping the town's castle very active over the centuries.

The ancient capital of the area is St-Lizier, with its fascinating cathedral. The resort of Ax-les-Thermes has 75km of runs (green, blue, red and black) also a purpose built snow park for snowboarders. The resort is at 1400m, with slopes rising to 2300m. There are lots of restaurants in Ax-les-Thermes, the small town linked by a new cable car to the ski resort. There is excellent skiing, friendly people and the ski properties are half the price of the Alps! The resort is 1.25 hours drive from Toulouse airport, and is on the main rail link to Toulouse,or Paris or Barcelona.  ARiege has a vast number of huge prehistoric caves, and the D119 road bends right into the mouth of the colossal Grotte du Mas d'Azil.

There are regular flights from the UK servicing Toulouse, Carcassonne and Perpignan. Another option is to take either a P&O service from Portsmouth to Bilbao or a Brittany Ferries service from Plymouth to Santander and then travel up from Spain . Alternatively, the fast and comfortable TGV service will take you all the way to Toulouse.
The area is not hugely populated, but the local economy continues to improve and property prices are starting to rise. However, when compared to other parts of southern France they represent excellent value for money.
The Tarn department is to be found between Toulouse and Montpellier. It is a fantastic mix of both Languedoc and Pyrenees culture. The landscape is contrasting, with green forests giving away to sun soaked vineyards. The 350,000 population enjoy a Mediterranean-like climate and a relaxed pace of life. Showers in the spring help to keep the vegetation lush.

Tourism is now the main source of industry in the department, attracting visitors to its climate and landscape, as well as the cuisine. The most popular wine comes from the town of Gaillac, which has been producing it since Roman times, and foie gras is a popular regional dish.

Albi, situated on the banks of the river Tarn is the departmental capital. It is from this river that the reddish clay is extracted to construct just about every building in the town. The artist Henri de Toulouse grew up here and bequeathed the town with the largest collection of his works. Albi has a vast cathedral, also built from red clay, and looks more like a fortress than a spiritual place of worship. Castres is a busy town, and makes a great base for exploring the surrounding countryside. Pimgrims used the town as a stopping off point on their way to Compostela. It boasts a superb art museum showcasing works from across the border in Spain.

Toulouse, Rodez, Montpellier and Carcassonne all have their own airports with regular flights from the UK. Toulouse also offers TGV links to many other French destinations. The area also has a good road and rail network.


Herault, department number 34, is located in the South of France on the Mediterranean coast and has a fantastic year round climate. It is famous for its full-bodied red wines and for its oyster beds along the coast in the Bassin de Thau.

Montpellier is the capital of both the Hérault department and the Languedoc-Roussillon region, and is the driving force behind the regional economy with high tech industries in Agropolis and Euromedecine. The area has seen a dramatic transformation during the last 50 years. The rise of a strong left of centre local government has left a legacy of good housing, pedestrianisation of town centres and a public transportation network that is second to none.

Béziers is further to the south, renowned for its ancient bridge. It has a population of 70,000 and is the unofficial capital of the largest wine-producing region in France, with vineywards dominating much of the local landscape. Elsewhere, the town of Sete is the most important fishing port on the French Mediterranean coast and Le Cap d'Agde is the largest purpose built tourist resort in the whole of Europe. It can accommodate up to 100,000 tourists at any one time. Nearby is Saint-Guilhem-le-Desert, one of France's most beautiful villages.

Flying into Herault couldn't be easier. There is an international airport in Montpellier and a smaller one in Béziers, with mainly flights from Paris. Although Ryanair now has a service from Bristol to Béziers three times a week. Montpellier has regular flights to and from the UK with Ryanair, GB Airways and British Airways. The fast and comfortable TGV train service also runs through to Montpellier.
In terms of french property, Montpellier is the most expensive city in the Languedoc-Roussillon and has experienced a 25 percent increase in prices over the last five years. Outside Montpellier, the trend remains similar, as the Hérault is an increasingly popular place in which to own property - but in the rural villages and hamlets further inland, there are still bargain french properties to be found.
The Aude lies in the Languedoc-Roussillon on the edge of the Pyrenees, and as usual within France, such a diverse country, there are a wide variety of landscapes. Vast areas are devoted to wheat fields and vineyards, and mountains and vast forests are scattered throughout the area. The department also has around 50km of Mediterranean coastline, which is always appealing.
The city of Carcassonne is the Aude's most proud possession. The medieval town, which was the inspiration for 'The Sleeping Beauty', boasts an incredible 52 towers and 2 enormous ramparts. A stroll around the city's old town reveals many memorable views, and even form the autoroute, when lit up at night, it looks sensational. The historical city of Narbonne, not far from Carcassone, is another favourite.

The Aude has a large number of castles, reminiscent of its Cathar history. The most impressive citadel is Peyrepertuse, which has 2.5km of ramparts. The Midi Canal, which flows through the department, is an incredible feat of construction. It took 12,000 men working for 14 years to complete it in the 17th century, and it runs from Toulouse to Thau, passing through Carcassonne. The canal is an incredible 240km in length nowadays, it is used most by the tourist industry and is a great way to explore the region whilst admiring the landscape at a leisurely pace. The area is proud of its customs and local cuisine, including the world famous cassoulet. Castelnaudary is considered the world capital of this particular dish. There are very strict rules over what constitutes a cassoulet - most importantly, all the ingredients must come from the Aude.

Carcassonne has its own international airport with regular flights to the UK and other European destinations, as well as a TGV train station, so travelling to the Aude is easy.
The french property prices in the Aude tend to be slightly cheaper than the average within the Languedoc Roussillon, but the major cities naturally attract higher property values, particularly Carcassonne.
The Pyrénées-Orientales is located deep in the heart of Catalan country, within the Languedoc-Roussillon region. It is also France's most southern department and is heavily influenced by its proximity to Spain. As a result it receives a large number of tourists every year, and the all year round fantastic climate has led to Cerdagne becoming the European centre for solar power research and development.

There are over 106,000 hectares of forest, and the west is predominantly mountainous, with peaks reaching heights of almost 3000m. In the east, however, there are vast plains covered with lakes. The Mediterranean coast is, not surprisingly, the most visited area. Between Barcares and Argeles you will find long sandy beaches, whilst between Collioure and Cerbere there is a rocky coastline. The Spanish owned this area until 1659, when the French took Roussillon and turned it into the department we know today. You can still see its Spanish influence in the names of towns and local dialects. Enjoying such a huge amount of sunshine means that the department is always the first to produce the year's fruit.

The capital of the department is Perpignan, once the capital of the Kingdom of Mallorca. The town, which lies between two rivers, is well looked after with its immaculate parks and boulevards. Other places of interest are Ceret, a small town with a Museum of Modern Art and a great place to watch bull fighting, Collioure is a picturesque port nestled between the vineyards and the crashing waves of the sea, and Prades is in the east and boasts a fantastic Romanesque church.

The Pyrénées-Orientales has its own ski resorts, hiking and pony trekking are a popular pastime in these more mountainous areas. French is the only official language, although Catalan is widely used. You may find the thick accent quite hard to understand but don't worry because the locals are well-known for their friendliness and willingness to help out foreigners. Perpignan has its own airport, which has regular flights to many European destinations including the UK, and the TGV, as ever, is not far away.

The Languedoc-Roussillon region is a relatively expensive place in which to own property with prices rising every year, and Perpignan is the most fashionable location and so is quite costly.

Provence & Cote D’Azur

The Vaucluse is an inland department of the Provence-Alpes-Côte-d'Azur region, and accommodates just under a half a million people. The department contains some of the most picturesque villages and unspoilt countryside that southern France has to offer, and places like Avignon and Orange are now considered quite trendy holiday spots for both the French and foreigners alike.

Avignon has some amazing ramparts, beautiffuly preserved, and a city teeming with history, culture and gorgeous architecture. The old lanes of Avignon are a treat, and there are many antique dealers should you want to purchase a small piece of local history. From the top of Avignon's ramparts one can survey the stunning Rhône Valley. From here it is easy to appreciate the town's strategic significance and its command over the surrounding region.

The town of Orange is located in the northern Vaucluse, amidst a formidable landscape, packed with lush vegetation, pine forests and towering mountains. It is reknowned for producing a large amount of honey. The town's name reflects the fact that the majority of the town's buildings are distinctly orange in colour. In 1530, Orange began to lend its trademarked colour to Holland, Northern Ireland, The Orange Free State and Orange, New Jersey.

To the south of the department, Luberon is a famous area, reknowned for quaint, typical french villages and magnificent castles. The department does not have its own international airport as yet, and so Nimes or Marseille are the nearest airports, offering relatively easy access into the department. The train is also easy to access with TGV links to both cities as well as onward to Paris.

French houses and villas in this department are very desirable, and the proximity to the coast has an inevitable effect on property prices. The increased popularity of the area means it is often difficult to find any bargains or properties that need renovation, but stunning luxury homes and prestige properties are readily available.
The prosperous Var department is located in the most extreme south-easterly point in France and has an unsurpassable climate, except in early spring when the heavy showers arrive. Toulon is the departmental capital of the Var with a population of over 160,000. It has the biggest harbour in mainland Europe, and France's Mediterranean navy fleet use the city as its base. Toulon is a historic centre in many ways, and its attractive old streets are host to many ancient buildings and hidden historic corners. The town also has a lively cultural scene, the highlight of which is the fantastic local opera company. The hills that look over the town and onto the sea have a number of great houses, villas and apartments.

The city of Toulon was damaged severely during the Second World War giving the centre a very different atmosphere to its neighbours on the coastline. To the east of the Var you'll find the town of Hyeres, which is a great blend of both Provence and Cote d'Azur culture. There are few other places that offer exotic palm trees on a sun-soaked coast together with a medieval old town and other historical interests - imagine spending your holidays here!

The very famous St-Tropez is a stunning town architecturally and is celebrated for its glamorous lifestyle. It has a population of just 6000 in the low season, but as the temperature increases for the summer months the population explodes. Expect grid-lock getting in and out of the town!

Further up the coastline and you'll come across the tourist resorts of Frejus and St-Raphael with their stretching sandy beaches and Roman remains. Not to be missed is Port-Grimaud. Built along a network of canals, the city bears a striking resemblance to the Italian city of Venice. The city is very attractive, although the top prize goes to Bargeme, which is widely acknowledged as one of the prettiest villages in the whole of France.

Both EasyJet and GB Airways fly to Toulon from Gatwick. If you'd rather avoid flying, however, you could take a Rail Europe service from London Waterloo all the way to Toulon.
Property prices in the Var remain high thanks to the popularity of the region and the proximity to the Mediterrannean coast. However, for investors, they have the advantage of a strong rental market to make a return on your investment. As expected, properties get slightly cheaper the further inland you delve.
The Bouches-du-Rhone department is located in the Southeast of the Provence-Cote-d'Azur region and has a population of just under 1.8 million. The mountainous North meet the urbanised South where the majority of this population is dispersed. Marseille is the largest town and also the departmental capital.

Marseille is France's second largest city, and is very cosmopolitan with a diverse mix of inhabitants. The majority immigrated to here from the Mediterranean basin, West Africa and Indochina. Recently, the town has been given rejuvenated thanks to the new TGV line to Paris, which is itself attracting Parisian investors and those looking to buy a holiday home or apartment in the area.

Further north, Aix-en-Provence is a city which could not be more different to the busy Marseille. It is an esteemed University town which once bestowed its teaching upon a young man named Nostradamus. It makes an ideal break from Marseille, although traffic here can be very busy in peak season. If you are spending time here in the summer, perhaps in a lovely apartment or holiday home, then it is a perfect place in which to learn the French language.

In the West of the department, where the Rhone River meets the Mediterranean Sea there is a vast land of marshes and ponds which is home to herons, cormorants and stunning pink flamingos. A number of rice plantations, amazingly, have also been established in this part of the department.

Travelling north we come to Arles, which dates back to the 6th century. In 123 BC the Romans took over and made it into a strategic town with a canal linking it to the Mediterranean Sea.  In terms of infrastructure, Marseille has an airport with regular flights to the UK and other destinations, or alternatively there are Nimes and Montpellier. The new TGV line which links Mareseille to Paris also makes life a lot easier.

The fantastic Mediterranean climate, sandy beaches and interesting history means that there is a thriving property market. Both Marseille and Aix-en-Provence have great potential for both living permanently, owning a holiday home or renting out.

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