French househunters dream of moving to sunny Nouvelle Aquitaine – just like Brits!

The old harbour and marina in La Rochelle, Charente-Maritime, France

The old harbour and marina in La Rochelle, Charente-Maritime, France - Credit: Lisa Strachan - Getty Images/iStockphoto

It’s not just Brits who dream of a place in the sun – almost a third of French people also want to move to sunnier climes, a new poll shows.  

But funnily enough, the sun-drenched French Mediterranean is not their dream destination and nor do many of them want to move abroad. Instead, it’s Nouvelle Aquitaine with its Atlantic coastline that comes out on top, according to the survey of 1,000 people by polling company OpinionWay.  

One in five of those hoping to move favoured the south-western region, while one in eight preferred Provence-Alpes-Côte d'Azur or Occitanie and only one in 14 wanted to move abroad. 

When asked which city or major town they would like to move to, two Nouvelle Aquitaine towns topped the poll. La Rochelle came first, with 8% of respondents (and 12% of 50-64-year-olds) naming the historic Charente-Maritime. The elegant beach resort of Biarritz, further down the Atlantic coast, came second, followed by Toulouse, another south-west city albeit the capital of Occitanie. 

Repeated surveys have shown that British househunters are also strongly drawn to Nouvelle Aquitaine when it comes to moving to France. A 2018 analysis of our property portal FrancePropertyshop.com found that visitors were more than twice as likely to look at Dordogne properties as those in any other department in France. Neighbouring Charente was the second most popular department followed by Charente-Maritime.  

A back street in La Rochelle, an historic port on the Atlantic coast in France

Rue St-Jean du Perot, one of the back streets in La Rochelle - Credit: Serr Novik - Getty Images/iStockphoto

La Rochelle’s historic port with its twin towers is one of the most iconic image of France. The university town of 76,000 inhabitants has a lively year-round atmosphere, its quayside crammed with cafés and seafood restaurants while its cobbled backstreets are lined with handsome arcades, boutiques and major chains. A half-hour walk from the hustle and bustle of the Vieux Port takes you past the largest pleasure boat marina in Europe to the beach at Minimes. A short drive over a bridge brings you to the Ile de Ré, a holiday island known for its beaches backed by sand dunes and pine forest. 
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While claims that Charente-Maritime is sunnier than the Côte d’Azur are somewhat exaggerated, the department does bask in some 2,200 hours of sunshine a year, making it one of the brightest places in France.  

La Rochelle and the Ile de Ré predictably have the highest house prices in Charente-Maritime. You can expect to pay around €4,000/m2 for a house or apartment in La Rochelle proper, making an average family home about €468,000 and a typical two-bedroom apartment €260,000. Move a little further inland, however, and prices drop dramatically. The same house in the market town of Surgères, 30 minutes up the TGV trainline, might cost €186,000 and have a bigger garden, while in the popular spa town of St-Jean-D'Angély, an hour from La Rochelle, you might only pay €125,000. 

Overall, more than half of all the respondents were considering a move – 32% because of the climate and 20% for other reasons. Unsurprisingly, the youngest respondents (aged 18-24) favoured Paris (15%). 

However, just under half of respondents were not interested in changing cities, some because they live already live in a sunny region; others because they have a strong attachment to their home region. 

To find your dream home in Nouvelle Aquitaine, visit FrancePropertyShop.com