Taking its name from the 800-mile long river that runs through it, the Pays de la Loire region of France covers five departments: Loire-Atlantique (44), Mayenne (53), Sarthe (72), Maine-et-Loire (49) and Vendee (85). A department is similar to a UK or U.S. county.
The Loire-Atlantique and Vendee have lovely harbours and sandy beaches, while inland, the Loire valley has beautiful rolling countryside, fairytale chateaux, and vineyards producing some of the best wines anywhere.
The primary towns are Nantes, Angers, Le Mans, Laval, Cholet, and La Roche-sur-Yon.
Location hot spots that attract expats include the areas around Saumur (including Montreuil-Bellay, Fontevraud l’Abbaye, and Doue-la-Fontaine), Chateaubriant, Mayenne (specifically the Gorron area), and the ever-popular Vendee (Fontenay-le-Comte, Vouvant, and La Chataigneraie).
The Loire is a thriving region with a strong local economy. There are several well-established industrial and agricultural businesses: Cholet exports designer clothes to the world, Saint-Nazaire builds transatlantic liners and cruise ships, Nantes has booming IT and financial services fields, the region supplies produce to all of France, and some of the vintners have had exports increase by 340% due to increased demand from emerging economies, such as China. Tourism is also a big earner as travellers from other parts of France and from across the world come to explore this fantastic region.
Although property prices in the Loire have risen steadily over recent years, there are still bargains to be had. A quick perusal of the estate agent’s windows will show that you can pick up a renovation project for 30,000 to 40,000, and you can buy a decent 3-bedroom detached house for 100,000 – 120,000. Going up to the 180,000 – 200,000 range will get you a large house in excellent condition with a good-sized garden, and perhaps an orchard or a bit of land.
Land is quite reasonable in the Pays de la Loire and many rural properties come with much larger gardens than in the UK. As expected, town or village centre properties may have a patio or a small garden.
Of course, the most popular areas will be the most expensive. But, even if you’re determined to live in a “des res”, you’ll get more for your money here than in the UK.
A range of property styles are available in the Pays de la Loire, from stone-built longeres (long houses) to village townhouses to elegant chateaux, and everything in between.
The new build constuction field is active (but not excessively so), so if you prefer a new house they are available, but be prepared to pay more for it as these are popular with the French.
In the north part of the Pays de la Loire region, you will find traditional stone-built houses and longeres and barn conversions, as well as the cream-coloured new builds, while houses in the Vendee have a more Mediterranean feel with stucco and red-tiled roofs.
The Pays de la Loire has good air and train links, and is about three or four hours drive from the ferry and Eurotunnel terminals.
As the Loire is popular with holidaymakers, you may be able to rent out a property here, thus generating a return on your investment.
More information on Pays de la Loire Property is available on the FrenchEntree Pays de la Loire website.
David Morrison is a journalist with FrenchEntree Loire (http://www.frenchentree.com/france-pays-de-la-loire), the leading English-language website for anyone interested in this stunning part of France. Visit the site for details on property, tourism and more.