In the corner of South West France, is a secret spot known as Lot-et-Garonne. The area is a little-known gem just beneath the picturesque region of the Dordogne. This is a tiny corner of France; only forty kilometres square in total but it offers some of the greatest benefits to living within the French countryside.
The Times newspaper described this area as 'France in the raw'. Its authentic sense of 'real' France lures many foreigners to join its inhabitants living a truly French rural way of life. Of course, you would be expected to learn the language, but in exchange you get a region famous for its laid-back lifestyle, fine local produce, fantastic restaurants and genuine French charm.
Property prices in the Dordogne have risen steeply in recent years. But, properties in the area have always been expensive compared with other areas of France. For those looking for the challenge, there are barn and town house renovation opportunities still readily available across the area from around twenty thousand pounds. There are less conversion prospects throughout this area than one might find in other parts of France. However, the perfect picture postcard restoration project is still available if you're willing to search for it.
Land prices are still very affordable in Lot-et-Garonne with the cost of labour and materials significantly cheaper than those throughout the UK. This can make building your own dream property in the Dordogne region much cheaper than building your own home in the UK. Good land prices start from around twenty-five thousand euro (about nineteen thousand pounds) and stretch as far as the budget can go.
Properties available throughout the area include town houses, manor houses, gites, chalets and of course, for those with big pockets, the odd chateau or two.
A large two-bedroom manor house could cost as little as a hundred and sixty thousand pounds, although smaller houses of this type are plentiful in the region. For around the same price as the large manor house, one can purchase a four-bedroom village house with a swimming pool and lots of development opportunities.
Bungalows are increasingly popular in the area. A well-located two-bedroom bungalow can be purchased for prices that make the UK property market look very expensive indeed. For the more adventurous holiday-home buyer, a newly built wooden vacation chalet is as little as sixty thousand pounds.
If you're in the market for a luxury property, Lot-et-Garonne is perfect. There are lots of magnificent large new and restored properties with swimming pools, impressive grounds and stunning views of the countryside. Of course, whilst many of these homes fetch upwards of between five hundred to a million euro, the quality of the homes and what you get for the price is simply incomparable with British properties.
With great transport links, this part of France is highly accessible. The closest international airports include Bergerac, Bordeaux and Toulouse. Easyjet, Ryanair, Flybe and British Airways operate a number of regular flights from the UK. Paris is only four hours away on the TGV, which makes this area a great holiday home for those living in the UK.
Discover the marvellous lifestyle, beautiful scenery and relaxed quality of life that makes Lot-et-Garonne France's best kept secret.
Derek Rogers is a freelance writer who represents a number of UK and French businesses. He recommends Premier French Property, a leading Dordogne Estate Agent with offices in Eymet, Castillonnes, Villereal and Issigeac for advice on buying Dordogne Property .