Hi Fellow Members!
We’ve always loved France, have always spent as much time there as possible and would have moved there already if Brexit hadn’t ruined our plans. Active 60’s so have decided that if we don’t move there, at least now part-time, soon, we will have left it too late. We are in the process of downsizing in our [much loved but soggy in winter] coastal NorthDevon lively village and need to find an area/village/ town in the Southern half of France where we can spend as much time as 90-days-in-180 allows in October - March. Looking for recommendations please. We want to be in walking distance of bars/cafes/ restaurants/ social life - and both love watching live music of all sorts and museums ad arts generally. Husband is a keen hill cyclist so we need nearby hills at least. Looking to escape the soggy climate here for warmer drier winters than N Devon but the Med is probably too warm and love the sea but as we will be spending summers by it in N Devon not a necessity for a winter home area. Very grateful for any recommendations for areas to concentrate my search for house or apartment up to [say] E400K. Gratefully for any help!
Hi Fellow Members!
Isn’t Brexit a red herring here as you could not have spent more than six months in France pre-Brexit.
Albi maybe. Lots of hills nearby. Boiling hot summers though, as in much of France these days. Le Mans, not very far south, on Saturday 36 degrees. Good luck anyway.
If heat is a factor (it was for us) and with temperatures rising, you may want to look at the area south of the Loire. I know the region around Saumur and it’s very pleasant (and there are hills when you get away from the river!). It’s at the very top of the region you mentioned, so it may not be for you.
Hello and welcome
I realise you said the Med may be too warm but in the winter the Cote d’Azur is lovely… it’s just the summer months that can be brutal. Temperatures in the winter are typically in the low to mid-teens, which is fantastic compared to the single digits in the UK.
The arrière pays Niçois, for example, is much more affordable than coastal towns but provides easy access to towns and cities such as Nice, Antibes, Cannes, Grasse, etc… but it also has the hills for your husband, especially in places like Gourdon, Tourettes-sur-Loup, etc…
A little bit further afield (but still accessible) is the awesome Gorges du Verdon too
You’ve not mentioned whether you speak French, but if you don’t then there used to be a vibrant community of English speakers in and around Valbonne, so perhaps worth a look too.
It’s a bit of a trek from the UK presuming you’re driving though… but plenty of flights from Nice to London if you’re just popping over for short periods away.
Thanks all and will follow up all these suggestions. Yes we both speak French well - and look forward to doing so even more often asap…,!
Thanks Gareth. We spent some of Jan/ Feb 23 outside Cannes and loved area as well as ideal temperatures and no rain!! Really brought it home to us, when we got back to soggy cold here, that it’s time to downsize in Devon, and do our long-planned French part-time move while we still can. Just concerned about increasing summer temperatures particularly in that area - but I am already collecting apartment details there just in case and coming in our campervan to have another look in October.
Husband’s no 1 area atm is around Pau - for Pyrenees cycling - so we are also going to have a look at that this autumn. But since both areas fairly expensive wondering where - of areas we don’t already know - might also work before we commit ourselves.
Lovely vids btw!
When we were looking a couple of years ago the area inland from Agde/Bezier had (IIRC) medium-sized hills and the prices weren’t outrageous, though a bit dearer than some parts of France. We didn’t buy for multiple reasons, but your budget is bigger and you might find something good at the right price.
Thanks for this - I’ll have a look.
I think it has to be the Minervois - judging by your wish list…
also lots of airports to serve your visits.
have a look and if you need any advice then let me know; we have lived there for 5 years now and never looked back !
I still work in the UK so travel 10 days a month back there.
Thanks for your help, Rob. Looking!
If you’re looking near Pau, then Bagnères-de-Bigorre is a lovely market town in the foothills of the Pyrenees. As @robwebber suggests, the Minervois is quite mild during the winter months, and will be warmer than Bagnères-de-Bigorre. I live not far away in the Montaigne-Noir, which is much higher up and therefore quite a bit cooler. I think Caunes-Minervois, La Redorte and Homps are good, and you won’t be far from the sea.
It’s a problem at the moment. These are photos I took of the Gorges du Verdon last October. Things are worse now.
The Var is a nice place to live with good air, train and autoroute links. Loads of nice villages and vineyards and a good base for exploring futher afield in Italy, Spain and beyond. The only negative points I’d make about are that is property can be expensive and if you’re not careful where you choose to live holiday season is a nightmare.
Thank you - looking!!
Thanks. Summer tourists have just left our Devon seaside village - or at least the ones with school age children. Means there is parking by the coast here again …
Escapees24 which areas of France do you know and like or not like, so far?
We are living in the beautiful Correze near Argentat sur Dordogne,
When we were looking out houses, we viewed this one on a cold, wet wintery day but bought it, not knowing what the surrounding area looked like. When we finally moved in and COVID hit the country, we were delighted to explore a bit more on our (electric) bicycles and found it to be a beautiful area. Hilly and full of charm. We are not far from a few waterfalls either.
I hope you will be happy, wherever you decide to settle.
Thanks. In addition to husbands need for hills to cycle and our wish for social life in walking distance we are looking to identify areas to spend as much of the winter as we can which are drier than rainy coastal North Devon where we will still live in the summer (and which - France- our kids and their families can enjoy in summer holidays) We know much of Brittany and Normandy well and recently visited NEFrance but they are all too damp and cold for our plan. We know much of the Atlantic coast of France from summer breaks but largely too flat for ‘my’ cyclist. We’ve also had enjoyable stays around the Loire and Dordogne but winter climate stats don’t look encouraging. We’ve spent time in the Med. areas around Cannes (and are going back soon) and also southwest of Perpignan area, (love Collioure- but know it’s too expensive for our budget), but are concerned that with increasing effects of global warming that coast and its hinterland may become too hot in summer before long.
We know the Côte d’Or area fairly well (wine buying trips!!) and that looks possible. We are thinking seriously re Pau are which friends know v well and we hope to visit this autumn.
We haven’t visited much of the Massif Central but guess there may well be areas on its edges which would hit our ‘wants’ list.
Thank you for your ideas!
Just be aware that parts of central france, and especially the Massif central can get very (very) cold in the winter.
We live in the Lot Valley on the NW Aveyron / S Cantal border and over the years have become increasingly appreciative of how lucky we are in the face of increasing meteorological uncertainty. We experience mild winters and have only had snow once in the last twelve years, yet even in midsummer the landscape remains green. Similarly we’re shielded from many of thestormy weather systems that batter other SW regions.
It’s an area that’s comparatively unknown except for summer tourism, but the towns and villages between Rodez and the Lot Valley - eg Marcillac, Espallion- might be of interest as unlike many tourist areas, much remains open in winter, yet property is comparatively inexpensive.
Lastly, wherever you look, do try to take into account very local winter micro -climates, for instance in deep valleys like ours, one side of the valley may be in the shade throughout Dec/Jan whilst the opposite bank or slope gets lots of sun - the presence of vineyards / terracing is a useful indicator.