Gascony in the South of France has been voted the second best place in the world to live the ‘good life’ by The Telegraph, here property experts Champions of Gascony tells The Resident just why it is such a popular place to buy a holiday home
The ancient region of Gascony is fondly known as the ‘other’ South of France. Bounded to the south by the Pyrénées and to the north by a line running north west/south east from Bordeaux to Toulouse, Gascony covers a vast area of beautiful unspoilt countryside and is one of the most peaceful and serene regions of France. Famed for its douceur de vivre (sweetness of life), the area has become one of the most sought after locations in France for those seeking tranquility and tradition.
The proximity of the mountains to the south and the influx of Italian vignerons in the early 20th century enhanced an already southern atmosphere, bringing nuances which have integrated comfortably and created a friendly and peaceful region.
Regional produce is an important factor of daily life. Colourful markets provide fresh fruit and organic vegetables, free range eggs, fresh fish, delicious cheeses and tasty charcuterie and, of course, the world-famous specialities foie gras and Armagnac brandy, the latter pre-dating Cognac by some 200 years. The absence of mass tourism is a hallmark of the region, which offers regular cultural events, country hiking routes, scenic river boating and a wide choice of golf courses including continental Europe’s oldest club at Pau.
Beautiful, quiet and gentle, Gascony is an idyllic place to live and there is a range of affordable and high quality property available to purchase, with a selection of châteaux, manor houses and renovated farmhouses to choose from.
Mark Wilkins is the Managing Director of Champions of Gascony, an independent estate agency specialising in residential sales in Gascony, and the founding partner of a multi award-winning property marketing agency in London. He and his family have lived in Gascony since 2006 and he is a proud UK Armagnac Ambassador and a member of The Company of Armagnac Musketeers.
Mark explains why his family made the decision to up sticks and move to the French countryside:
“Children remain children for longer in Gascony. The pace of life is slow and the stresses of modern life simply melt away. One has the time and plenty of ways to relax, and the beautiful countryside entices you out to explore and keep fit on foot, bike or horse.
It is perfectly possible to be completely alone in Gascony; the small towns are generally widely distributed, so although you can enjoy glorious views across a rolling landscape dotted with beautiful structures, there is plenty of space for everyone. Low population density, lack of heavy industry and few regional motorways ensure that Gascony is blessed with some of the cleanest air in Europe.
Did you know that Gascons live longer than people in any other area of France? Gascony has a very warm and gentle climate. Mild winters mean that the chance of snowfall is rare and temperatures seldom fall below freezing. Thanks to the southern sun you can expect warm summers; ideal for exploring the mountain trails, rivers, and bastides.
Although a quiet and peaceful region now, Gascony has had an interesting past. There are a staggering 146 castles in the Gers alone, and around a third of the villages that exist today derive from medieval bastides – fortified settlements with grid pattern streets and an arcaded market at their centre. French castles are stunning in their architecture, and combined with the bastides that pepper the landscape, create incredible views all the way across to the Pyrénées in the south.”
Here are six of the best properties currently on the market with Champions of Gascony
1 A beautifully renovated 18th century maison de maître with maison d’amis, stables, barns and breathtaking 360° views over its pasture land and the surrounding rolling Gers countryside. Set in an elevated position and approached by a pretty private lane leading up from the valley.
2 Built in 1822 with equally imposing north and south facades, this magnificent chateau was an Armagnac estate. Benefiting from high ceilings and classic, well proportioned rooms and set on the edge of a picturesque 13th century bastide village.
3 Idyllically situated at the end of a country lane, this irresistible stone farmhouse with converted barn/cottage have been exquisitely restored with quality materials and retaining period features.
4 This character Gascon farm hamlet is divided into two properties; a 19th Century 3 en suite bedroom farmhouse and an 18th Century 2 bedroom cottage/gîte. Delightfully set in a very peaceful country location with beautifully maintained gardens, orchard, grassed areas and salt-water swimming pool.
5 An enchanting 18th century Chartreuse, peacefully located at the end of a private drive within beautiful gardens featuring century old trees, tennis court and a swimming pool.
6 A fully-renovated Gascon farmhouse with independent cottage/gîte and open-faced barns forming a private courtyard with swimming pool. Set amid a small, sleepy hamlet and surrounded by beautiful rolling countryside to the west of Auch.
Champions of Gascony is an independent estate agency specialising in residential sales from offices in both London and Gascony. Its 20 years experience gives it an acute insight into the French property market and a team of devoted professionals provide a friendly and impartial guide to your proposed property investment in France.
Find your dream home in Gascony by visiting championsfrance.com or telephone Mark Wilkins on +33 6 88 06 66 10 to discuss your requirements.