No-one knows the area like a local estate agent. We asked Jean-Stéphane Vilain, of Selection Habitat, for the inside track on the upper Lot Valley
What’s the cheapest property you have on your books right now?
In Aveyron we have a village property to be renovated with an attached barn and small garden for €25,000. A great project if you’re willing to do a bit of hard work.
What’s the most unusual property you have?
We have a very rare castle from the 11th and 15th centuries in Aveyron, totally restored with original features, a beautiful view on the surrounding countryside and full of history. It is really a special place, one of a kind and is extremely well priced at only €495,000.
How much would you expect to pay for:
A detached property with land in good condition?
In Aveyron in the region of €170,000, in Cantal and Lozère around €150,000.
A three-bedroom townhouse?
Again Aveyron is slightly more expensive at around €120,000, while Cantal and Lozère about €100,000.
A renovation opportunity?
In Cantal and Lozère I would expect to pay about €80,000 while in Aveyron about €100,000.
Is there a typical architecture or style in the area?
In the Marcillac wine-producing area of Aveyron the properties are built with red stone. It’s quite a contrast from the usual beige/grey stone. Cantal is known for its draping lauze-tiled roofing and Lozère is famous for its “Philibert” carpentry inspired by a boat’s hull.
Why do British people buy houses in the area?
Authenticity, sunshine, affordable properties… We’re in southern France but away from the crowds.
What tips would you give to help people settle into life in the area?
The most important advice I would give is to learn French as it will help you integrate into all areas of life in France. This is often understated but really necessary in my opinion. Secondly, participate and get involved in local village events and fêtes, if you open up to people they will open up to you. Lastly, I would say get a job. Working in France is a wonderful way to meet people, understand the culture and improve on language skills.
What are your predictions for the property market in the area?
My predictions are very optimistic! Over the last four months we have seen a large increase in the number of enquiries and sales from UK clients. Together with a 30% price drop since the economic crisis and the strong pound I am confident this will lead to more UK buyers.
What are the regional specialities?
There is a regional dish that spans these three departments: aligot. It is a hearty dish made with cheese and mashed potato – a favourite among adults and kids alike!
What’s your favourite corner of the area?
In Aveyron it would have to be Marcillac for its wine-production, and I have just recently discovered the village of Marcolès in Cantal where I was fortunate to find a very good traditional, gastronomic restaurant!