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Where to Buy in Burgundy
A choice of landscapes from vineyards to woodlands, rivers to rolling hills, each distinctive and beautiful in its own right. So where do you start looking for a home? Benjamin Haas from Burgundy4U pinpoints the differences in prices and house styles across the region.
Beaune and the COte d’Or
Beaune and its surrounding villages – Puligny-Montrachet, Meursault, Pommard - are well known as the most important wine-producing area of Burgundy. This reputation, combined with all the architectural, cultural and gastronomic attractions, ensures visitors from all over the world at any time of the year. Its prosperity has also brought a high level of employment – with consequences for anyone looking to buy here. For all its prettiness, this is working Burgundy, and workers need to buy houses too… Prices around Beaune and along the Côte de Nuits up to Dijon are therefore high, but this also means that this will never become region of holiday homes, neglected for most of the year; settling here would be moving into a vital and dynamic part of France.
A two-bedroom property in need of some modernisation in a wine village will sell for around 200 000 euros. 250 000 to 350 000 euros will buy a three-bedroom family home, ready to move into. A more imposing “maison bourgeoise” or a town house in one of the prestigious villages such as Meursault can be found between 350 000 and 450 000.
Moving west, away from Beaune and the vines, one finds
another face of the Côte d’Or. The vineyards are replaced
by fields of cattle, sheep or crops. Here, there are also hilltop villages,
hamlets made up of farms, cottages and outbuildings made of local stone,
and busy little towns where small shops still survive. Recently, the younger
generation here have begun to re-discover the charm of these old cottages
and town-houses, eschewed by their parents in favour of modern bungalows
– but there are still bargains to be found around the lovely historic
towns of Pouilly and Semur-en-Auxois. You may find a run-down traditional
stone-built cottage, with two bedrooms, and possibly dubious plumbing,
for under 100 000 euros; a holiday home in good condition, with rental
potential can be had for between 150 000 and 200 000 euros. A budget of 300 000 euros will stretch to a classic stone
house, a good-sized garden and outbuildings to develop. If you want anything grander you need to double the prices as you are competing with the wine growers.
A place to watch for property buyers, this is not the Burgundy of vine covered slopes and hilltop villages, but of gentler rolling countryside, of vast forests and rivers in the north east, reaching out to the borders of Champagne. The town of Châtillon-sur-Seine overlooks the river, has picturesque architecture, and houses the famous “Trésor de Vix” – a wealth of artefacts from pre-Roman finds. Despite this attraction for history enthusiasts, the Châtillon area has escaped mass-tourism. It offers a simple charm for country living, with plenty of opportunities for hunting (a French passion), fishing and other relaxing pastimes. What is more, the property prices have remained quite reasonable, being at least 10% lower than other parts of Burgundy.
A traditional stone one-bedroom cottage in good condition will fetch around 75 000 euros, but this area also offers more grandiose style of property, at anything BUT grandiose prices. A “maison de maître” – a small manor house- with some work to be done can come with a price-tag as modest as 100 000 euros; a stylish home with swimming pool is available for under 300 000 euros.
Situated in the Saône-et-Loire department, the southernmost part of Burgundy, the area around Mâcon and Cluny has quite a distinct character. The traditional “mâconnais” house will be built in stone over wine cellars and have a wooden-framed gallery running across the front, an inviting place to enjoy an aperitif, if you are lucky, overlooking the local vineyards. South of Mâcon the architecture changes, the gently curving pale terracotta roof tiles having a hint of the provençal about them. Here, again, the law of supply and demand dictates higher prices than in most other part of the region, as the area is very popular with the Lyonnais, looking for their own weekend bolt-hole, away from the bright lights and bustle of France’s second city.
Prepare to pay around 100.000 to 120 000 euros for a one bedroom house, probably in need of modernisation. A two-bedroom village house in reasonable condition or a rustic cottage suitable for holidays may be found at 150k. If you are looking for a comfortable family home, with traditional features intact, your budget should be over 250 000 euros.
Proximity to the major motorways, TGV station or airport will be a factor in the price of property, and if you are prepared to branch out into the Charollais or Brionnais countryside you may find that elusive gem for renovation, still within driving distance of historic Cluny or Tournus.
A visit to the lively agricultural market in Louhans, one of the most famous in Burgundy, gives an idea of the character of this region, and the style of property most typically offered: half-timbered low-level farmhouses with long sloping roofs, built in brick, usually with, at least, a small plot of land.
Over the last 20 years many of these traditional farmhouses have been bought by the Swiss, taking advantage of its easy access from Geneva. However, the reputation of the Bresse chicken has saved the area from becoming a holiday haven for foreigners and it retains its French regional flavour.
A one bedroom farmhouse to be renovated can be found for around 80 000 euros; a two-bedroom house in good condition with around half and acre of garden will cost in the 160 000 to 200 000 euros, and there are fully renovated estates with hectares of land at 300 000 to 500 000 euros, suitable for equestrian estates or chambres d’hôtes.
VEzelay and the North Morvan
Vézelay– the very name conjures up images of devout pilgrims following in the footsteps of St James on the historic path to Compostela, pausing in this atmospheric town, dominated by its magnificent basilica. Yet, despite its fame, the area around Vézelay still offers good value for the property buyer. On rare occasions, properties in the town itself come onto the market. A two to three bedroom cottage in habitable condition in a nearby village will cost around between 100 000 and 125 000 euros. 300 000 euros will buy an impressive 6 bedroom residence ready to use as B&B.
Farther afield, heading into the northern part of the Morvan Park or the relatively undiscovered Puisaye area, bargains abound. You will find stone built farmhouses for renovation in these agricultural areas, or quite elegant “maisons bourgeoises”. 160 000 euros can buy a 3-bedroom home in perfect condition with an acre or two, whereas 300 000 euros buys a renovated mill on a riverside setting.
This is the orchard of Burgundy. To the south and east of the town there is the wine growing region which includes the famous town of Chablis, and the lesser known, but up and coming villages of Irancy, St.Bris-le-Vineux and Coulanges-la-Vineuse. In addition to the vines, apple and cherry orchards burst with blossom in spring across the landscape. There is renovation activity around these pretty villages which are popular both with foreigners and Parisians.
Auxerre itself provides everything in the way of services and supplies, and being the administrative centre of the Yonne department, all the government offices are there too. Funnily enough there is a type of no man’s land area in between Dijon and Paris, so in this area you can find some great bargains: take for example a longere in the pays d’othe with 6 bedrooms and nearly an acre of land is going now for 199.000 euros.
Autun and the South Morvan
In many ways the lovely cathedral city of Autun is slightly overshadowed by its more renowned neighbours – and what a bonus for those looking to buy here! Its population is swelled in the summer months by the cosmopolitan visitors who have discovered its secrets. They share the tables of the numerous pavement cafés with the local working and student population, and browse the excellent market stalls with residents of the outlying villages – this is, after all, the gateway to the southern part of the Morvan Natural Park, sometimes compared to the Peak District in the north of England.
With its historical richesse (Roman amphitheatre, 11th
century frescoes, interesting churches), Autun is an interesting place
to visit, but it is also a pleasing place to live, whether one chooses
to town house along one of its boulevards, or a fermette in a Morvan nearby
village. Here an old barn or small cottage for renovation can still be
snapped up for around 50 000 euros, and 150.000 to
A word about the NiEvre
This is the least explored part of Burgundy. The Morvan Natural Park falls in the eastern side of this department and here there is a good choice of reasonably priced property for sale. The western area is a little off the beaten track and it is not yet popular with Parisians or foreign buyers who wish to travel a short distance from the major axes of communication. Consequently, prices remain very attractive. La Charité-sur-Loire and the wine growing area of Pouilly-sur-Loire north of Nevers are waiting to be discovered.