Cheap French Property
A case study - properties for sale in the village of St Lary, Ariège
Here's an example of a typical French village - a bit off the beaten track in the Ariège département, about 80 minutes by car south of Toulouse. You'll recognize the picture: our header is taken from it. We visited it in January at which time 17 houses were on the market; that's right, 17 properties for sale in one tiny (about 50 viable houses in all) village.
It lies on that wonderful 'piedmont highway', a road through the foothills of the Pyrenees joining the ends from Perpignan to Biarritz. In this stretch it is the mid-point between St Girons and Bagnères-de-Luchon, both important commercial and tourist centres. Finally it sits at the base of one of the staple passes in the Tour de France - the Col du Portet d'Aspet.
We've just taken the most appealing examples here, most of which are visible in the photograph.
N°1 is a 3-storey house with large garden out front. At present it is divided
into two: a one-bedroomed gite on the ground floor and a vast four-bedroomed
flat above. 2 separate entrances. It has central-heating and reasonable insulation.
Asking price: 135,000 euros. Would accept around 80,000 - there's quite a bit of work to be done although the roof is good.
N°2 is apparently in better shape (we couldn't visit it that day) but the owner has read al lot about "the English buying up the half of France" that she's put a ridiculously high price tag on it: 250,000 euros. But you get a lot for your money: 4 floors and a garden.
N°3 is a tiny three storey house with a room on each floor. A basic hideaway, without garden, and going for 15,000 euros.
N° 4 is a lovely little house which is still used as a holiday home by Toulouse people. It's simple and welcoming: three bedrooms, bit of a yard/garden and a balcony giving on to the main street. They're asking 60,000 euros but we reckon they'll accept 30,000.
N°5 is actually just tucked in behind the blue-shuttered one in the picture: this has to be seen to be believed: a five bedroomed house (in fact two houses converted into one) with balcony at the back over-looking the trout stream. Kitchen and two reception. Brand-new oil-fired central heating. The whole place has been totally restored and refurbished to acceptably high standards. Cost? They're asking 100,000 euros, but will accept... ? They are at the end of their tether.
The interesting thing is that all these properties have been on the market for at least 6 months now - sometimes more - and all the owners are prepared to lower their prices considerably. Why? Because the boom is over - it hardly started here in the mountains but people heard about it and wanted some of the action.
The village of St Lary is a lively place: there's a café, a restaurant and two shops. There's fabulous walking in the mountains nearby (3000 metre peaks) as well as the Tour de France in summer, hunting wild boar in Autumn, skiing about 20 kms away in winter and wild flowers galore in Spring.
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