Where to buy French property... if you want vineyards
- Credit: Archant
Karen Tait lists the areas to aim for if you like your wine
Famed all over the world for its wine, France is almost one huge vineyard. There are some areas, however, that are more renowned than others.
• Bordeaux – historically, Bordeaux’s access to the sea meant it was able to export its wines, bringing great wealth to the region which can be seen in the grand architecture of the city and the châteaux on the various wine domains.
Internationally referred to as clarets, Bordeaux wines are mostly reds, with the wine area centring around the Gironde estuary and along the Garonne and Dordogne rivers. Key appellations include St-Émilion, Médoc and Graves. The city of Bordeaux is the capital for both the Aquitaine region and the Gironde department. While regional average house prices are €180,000, this rises to €210,000 in Gironde and to €243,000 in the Bordeaux sector.
• Burgundy – on the hills south of the regional capital Dijon, the Burgundy vineyards are mostly located around the town of Beaune, where the autumn ‘Hospices’ wine sale is a highlight of the year. There are four main areas: Côte de Beaune, Côte de Nuits, Côte Chalonnais and Maconnais, and the region also encompasses the Beaujolais area further south, close to the Rhône valley. Although the best wines are reds, Burgundy also produces some notable whites including Chablis. Property in Burgundy represents good value, with a regional average price of €120,000 and €140,300 in the Beaune area, although in and round the capital Dijon this rises to €180,700.
• Alsace – on the lower slopes of the Vosges mountains, in the Rhine valley between Strasbourg and Mulhouse, the Alsace vineyards produce crisp whites more akin to German wines than French, including Riesling, Sylvaner and Gewürtztraminer. The presence of Strasbourg, seat of the European parliament, means Alsace is not a cheap place to buy property, with a regional average of €190,000 rising to a considerable €300,900 in the city itself.
• Languedoc – all that southern sunshine is perfect for ripening grapes and the Languedoc vineyards represent one of the biggest wine-producing areas in the world. While the emphasis in the past has been on quantity over quality, this has changed in recent years. Plenty of vin de pays is still produced, but alongside AOCs such as Corbières and Fitou. Languedoc also produces a respected sparkling wine, Blanquette de Limoux. Offering the best value property on the Mediterranean coast, Languedoc-Roussillon has an average house price of €179,000, ranging from €134,300 in the Aude department to €212,000 in Hérault, bordering Provence and home to the regional capital Montpellier.
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• Provence – another large wine area, Provence is famed for its rosés, in in particular Côtes de Provence and Côteaux d’Aix. It also produces red wines and ‘grey wine’ from the Camargue area, while the best known white is Bandol. The Provence vineyard includes the southern end of the Côtes du Rhône AOC area. A home among the Provence vineyards doesn’t come cheap; they’re mainly in the Bouches-du-Rhône and Var departments, posting average house prices of €285,000 and €305,000 respectively, while the regional average is €290,000.
• Rhône – stretching almost 200km along the Rhône valley from Lyon to the Camargue on the coast, the Rhône vineyards produce generic Côtes du Rhône wines along with well known quality wines such as Hermitage and Châteauneuf-du-Pape. Covering such a large area, the wines tend to be divided into north, where the climate is cooler, and south where the climate is more Mediterranean. Property prices are generally lower further north – for example, an average of €155,00 in the Ardèche department, €181,000 in Drôme and €211,000 in Vaucluse.
• Loire – France’s second largest producer of sparkling wines is also known for its Anjou Rosé, Muscadet, Sancerre and Pouilly-Fumé wines. It also produces a very pale rosé or vin gris. Spread along the lovely Loire Valley via charming towns such as Orléans, Blois, Vouvray, Tours, Chinon, Bourgeuil, Saumur and Angers, until it reaches the Atlantic close to Nantes, the wine area is mainly located within the departments of Loire-Atlantique (average house price €195,000), Maine-et-Loire (€140,000), Indre-et-Loire (€ 175,000) and Loir-et-Cher (€120,800).
• Charente – while the Charente department is certainly full of vineyards, it’s known more for its cognac than its wines. It also produces an apéritif wine called Pineau des Charentes. Popular with British househunters, the Charente department has charming riverside towns, including Cognac, an elegant departmental capital in Angoulême, and offers an appealing average house price of €105,000.
• Champagne – last but not least, we come to the home of bubbly. Names such as Moët & Chandon, Taittinger, Bollinger, Krug, Mumm and Heidsieck are known all over the world. The champagne vineyards centre on the towns of Reims and Épernay, and include some very pretty villages. While its produce is certainly popular with the British, its property has tended to be less so, despite a reasonable average house price of €165,000 in Marne, the main champagne-producing department.