Until December 2015, France was divided into 22 administrative regions, themselves divided into départements – the latter being similar to counties in the UK or USA. After much debate, a new 13 region map of France was adopted by the Assemblée Nationale and that came into effect in January 2016, the hope being to simplify bureaucracy and save costs. What couldn’t be changed by an Act of Parliament was how much the character, architecture, traditions, geography, cuisine or dialects differ across France which is a simply enormous country.
We’ll take time out now to look at the regions where LBV Immo have local agents - Currently LBV Immo specialises in four regions of France much loved by the ex-pat community who make up our clientele for the most part. Those are Brittany, Normandy and Pays de la Loire in the picturesque north west and magical Provence way down in the south.
The region of Brittany is made up of four départements and surrounded on three of the four sides by sea, making it easily accessible from the UK and Ireland. The ferry ports of Roscoff Saint-Malo in this region and Cherbourg and Caen in neighbouring Normandy, are easily accessible from Portsmouth, Plymouth, Weymouth, Rosslare and Cork. There are airports at Rennes, Lorient, Quimper, Dinard and Brest which have seasonal flights from the UK whilst Nantes and Paris airports are within a few hours drive.
The area has many architectural styles, though the two most easily recognisable or typical house designs are the longère, or long house, and the néo-breton with it’s slate roofs, white walls and window surrounds made of granite.
With its interesting Breton market towns, there’s also more cosmopolitan living, the medieval town of Vannes just inland is a great place to sample some of the department’s classic seafood dishes.
Inland Carhaix Plouguer, is home to France’s largest annual music festival Les Vielles Charrues, just 15 minutes in fact from LBV Immo’s central office!
With ports in Caen, Cherbourg, Le Havre and Dieppe and regular flights into the local airports Normandy is very easy to reach from the UK and Ireland. The region is steeped in history, attracting many year round visitors due to the world war landmarks in the north. The region is a food lovers delight is renowned for its dairy, pork, seafood and apples products.
The rural heartland of the region offers plenty of half-timbered houses, and along with the picturesque Norman villages, it bears a strong similarity to the rural south of England. This similarity owes to the narrow historical and cultural links between Lower Normandy and England. Visited by more than 3 million people each year, Mont Saint-Michel and its bay are on the UNESCO list of world heritage sites.
In the south of the region lies the village of Camembert, where the soft, creamy cheese is said to have first been produced in the 18th century and nearby is home to the world-renowned point d´Alençon fine lace.
Pays de a Loire
The Pays de la Loire region is a recent creation, not one of France's historic regions. Indeed, the regional capital, Nantes, was once the capital of Brittany - to which it no longer belongs. In historic terms, Pays de la Loire covers parts of the old provinces of Brittany.
The Pays de la Loire covers the area to the south of Brittany and Normandy, along the lower stretches of the river Loire, the longest river in France.
The wide slow-moving Loire is one of Europe's great rivers. The river, excellent for fishing, is bordered by many attractive small towns, and the flat land is good for cycling.
The département of Vaucluse is where we have our LBV Immo agents, Camille who was born in Apt in the centre of their area, and her husband, Jean-Raphael. With warm summer and mild winters, it is easy to see why people fall in love with this area of France. The area is renowned for its distinctive orange ochre stone, which can be found in many of the properties in the region.
Within the region are many charming villages such as L'Isle-sur-la-Sorgue, famed for its antiques market, Gordes, officially one of the most beautiful villages in France, and the technicolour village of Roussillon.
The area offers varied styles of properties from the townhouse based in the heart of the community with small courtyard gardens to the farm houses and villas situated in the countryside between the lavender fields and vineyards: with many having the added benefits of a swimming pool.
Serviced by a number of airports, as well as a direct link on Eurostar this area is easily accessible and is a good area for those looking to invest in a holiday home which will offer a significant rental income.