We have recently sold our renovated Charente longere and barring any problems should be looking to exchange in late September/early October!! We now begin the search for our next house and land and will be looking east and maybe south east. We are considering the following Departments:-
Puy De Dome
We haven't settled in the Charente and when the heat of summer comes we find it too hot for us at our current location. Our plants are wilting and so are we!! We figure that by moving east into the Massif Central with it's greater altitude we will find a slightly cooler and more wooded environment. We both miss living amongst the hills and a greener, wooded landscape with lots of water. We don't mind remote, having lived in places in the UK such as the Scottish Highlands, Snowdonia and Mid Wales.
We have already checked out the southern part of La Creuse and both of us were very impressed with the beauty and tranquility in the landscape.
Some friends of ours have suggested we check out Aveyron, but we feel it may be too hot in summer for us, particularly in the south of the department.
We would appreciate people's thoughts on living in the departments we have listed and also on interesting places/areas to check out in each. Looking forward to the replies. This is an exciting time for us as we have come through a tough renovation and are looking to our next adventure!
I'd rule out most of the Aveyron due to summer heat (41° record in 2009), only the Aubrac escapes it and that's relative. The Cantal is cooler (although I've seen late 30s in Aurillac!) but you'll need to get high up and once you're east of the mountains the climate is continental and baked dry in summer. I reckon the Creuse is your best bet if escaping summer heat is your goal. But it's swings and roundabouts - cooler summers usually mean worse winters, especially wet in the creuse. Why not go right down to the Pyrénées?
Thank you for your reply. I know you have replied before to another thread I started on here. Your information on Aveyron was very helpful. We have figured it would probably be too hot for us. We have loved the parts of the Creuse we have seen so far, but have some reservations about the climate. Having said that, winter 2015/16 was thoroughly wet and stormy in the Charente. Maybe my weather station is not very accurate, but according to it, we saw above 40 degrees on quite a few days last summer here, and the fact our house is in such an open spot and south facing doesn't help in escaping the heat when it comes. Obviously weather is not our only consideration, scenery and a feeling of isolation and wildness is also important. I guess we are looking for a part of France which is similar to Highland Scotland/mid Wales, but with better weather!! Keen to check out Auvergne! We feel the Pyrenees is too far south and too pricey property/land wise.
You should definitely try Lozère if you don't mind being in a really rural setting. And I mean really rural! There are no big towns, the biggest being Mende. But it's a beautiful area (check out the Gorges du Tarn for example) and the weather is a "juste milieu". We have lived here for the past 20 years. We live at about 1,000 metres. The temperature gets down to minus 10 every winter, but not for long, and we have recorded minus 16. Not too much snow -- usually no more than 20 cms and the road-clearing operation is brilliant. In the summer it's relatively cool -- mid-30s in our south-facing garden -- and there's usually enough rain to keep everything green. We live near the A75. Clermont Ferrand is 150 km north, Montpellier 180 km south. Easy access to the Gard, Aveyron, Haute Loire, Ardeche and the Med if you fancy a day on the beach. And property is not expensive.
Yes we've already talked about this before. the car was reading 39° in the shade in our courtyard a couple of days ago but once out on the road we were at around 35° - when I quoted 41° that was the official météo france temperature with way over that in protected spots ;-)
Winter's have been a bit odd of late, you need to take a longer viewpoint and base things on records rather than ideas from people who have only been here a few years and who don't have an overall picture.
lived in the dordogne Creuse is wet and cold even are french neighbour used to joke about the weather and there are a lot of expats in the area we moved to the lot et garonne loved it here but when its hot it is hot
Hi Terry. Thank you for your interesting reply. Lozere is not an area we had even thought of to be honest, but it sounds right up our street. I read on Wikipedia that it is france's least popuated department! What's it like living at 1000 metres above sea level? Do you get alot of the winds such as the Scirocco and Mistral? Looked on Green Acres and Leggett websites to get an idea of properties and hardly anything came up? We are looking for a place with a lot of land more than 2 hectares ideally with a mixture of woodland and meadow. It sounds like an area we should be checking out. I imagine it is very, very different to the Charente!
Paul, not sure what your French is like but you'll get loads more info, which is often more accurate, on the French sites. 1000m here in the southern massif central is nothing like 1000m in the north of the massif central, same big differences between east and west ;-)
We had a holiday home in the Creuse and loved the hills and woods and the feeling that you can be somewhere totally remote. Summers are warm, rarely scorching but winters ... well they're long and wet. Sitting outside really only started in about June and finished by early September. We've moved to Lot-et-Garonne and normally one can start to sit out in April and even in October there are warm days. Downside is less rain, dried out plants and when it's hot, by golly it's hot.
It is indeed the least populated department in France, Paul. 14 people per square km if memory serves. So there's a lot of space, very little light pollution and the night sky is brilliant. One little-known fact: Lozère has the highest average altitude of any department in France. You'd think the Alps and the Pyrenees would get the nod but they have deep valleys as well as high mountains. A lot of Lozère is made up of high-altitude plateaux -- the Causse Méjean, the Causse Noir, part of the Aubrac, the Causse de Sauveterre -- which range roughly between 900 and 1,400 metres.
We do get windy days, what my wife informs me are "défluents" or "affluents" of the Mistral or the Tramontane depending on which way it's blowing. But it's not a major problem. In fact, really strong winds are pretty rare.
Winters, as I said, can be cold but not excessively so. Living at 1,000 metres also has the advantage of summers being cooler. And you're unlikely to be flooded out unless you buy a house close to the Lot, or the Colagne in Marvejols which has been flooded once since we came here. A rare occurrence but Marvejols is built on what was marshy land which was drained by monks, so not really a surprise.
As Andrew said, you need to check out the French estate agents' sites to find properties because Lozère has yet to be discovered by UK agencies, something I'm rather pleased about! There are plenty of places up for sale, ranging from farmhouses that need to be rebuilt to really nice, refurbished or modern properties. Prices are very reasonable. The only competition is from people living in Montpellier or Nimes, for example, looking for a holiday home. Popular tourist sites like the Gorges du Tarn are also expensive. Land can be a bit of a problem because farmers get priority when it comes to anything vaguely resembling agricultural land and they can pre-empt -- true of the whole of France so far as I know but good agricultural land is in short supply here so there's more pressure.
When we were looking for our home we were offered a place which would have met most of your requirements and they only wanted 10,000 euros for it! Not surprising when we discovered it had fresh running water -- a stream running slap through the middle of the "house". Mind you, Michel Bras's three-star restaurant has a stream running through the middle and they made it into a feature!
I don't know the Charente but yes, I imagine it's very different.
We live in the Puy de Dome, up in the hills about 18km from Issoire & love it! Its very seasonal here..we do get heat in the summer but living at 750m altitude the nights are usually cool & we sleep well. We get snow in winter but the department is good at keeping the roads clear...even the little road to our hamlet. I would suggest..& reccommend even that you look atthe area around Issoire. The town is very lively, the countryside is stunning, there are ex pats around but not too many.We chose to integrate into our commune & the people here opened their arms & hearts to us. If you want to come & sample the area do contact us. We will give you any help or info we can.
Hi Christine. Thank you for your reply. We definately want to check out Puy De Dome. We have stayed with friends who live north west of Auzances in La Creuse, close to the border with Auvergne (Puy De Dome). They took us to a Buddhist Temple near Biollet (correct spelling??) and the views of the mountains were stunning. Reminded me of parts of North Wales but on a much bigger scale. The landscape is definately right up our street and we would relish somewhere with cooler nights. It is absolutely baking here in the Charente and difficult to sleep at night at the moment when is is in the high 30's during the day. I love snow too, but my partner Jackie is not so keen!! I will do some research on your area around Issoire and we will definately contact you when we plan to visit. Should be in the next few weeks as our house is sold now and we exchange on 1st October. We will stay at friends holiday home in the Charente till we find our next place. Regards Paul and Jackie
We have a gite & chambre d`hotes here if you need somewhere to stay while you explore. The veiw from our garden is across to the Sancy Mountains & is wonderful. Let me know if we can be of help to you anytime :)
Beautiful, green rolling hills and wildlife, stunning sky vistas (if you are up high). Isolation, if you want it. Far from the madding crowd. Cool, stone houses in plentiful supply (and inexpensive), kind-hearted folk, and an ambiance I remember from 60 years ago in the rural UK.