Deauville may be the star attraction in Lower Normandy, but other areas of the department offer great value for money.
The famous seaside resort of Deauville is certainly a great place to visit, not only for equestrian eventing, but also for the seemingly endless stream of festivals and other high class sporting tournaments that take place in the town throughout most of the year.
Inevitably, therefore, if you want to buy property in the town there is a price to pay, at least double the national average of €2,500m², and you can double that number again for one of the top drawer manor houses and villas of the town.
You can probably get a pied-à-terre for under €150,000, but expect no more than a 25m² for your money! Up to €300,000 and you might be able to obtain a small town house of around twice this size.
It is a town that is very popular with Parisans, which inevitably pushes up the prices. Around 80% of purchases made by them. No wonder the town is known as the '11th arrondissement of Paris', despite the fact that the capital is 200 kilometres away.
Of the 8,000 properties in the town, around 70% are holiday homes.
The result is that since the 1960s the number of permanent residents in the town has actually been going down, with now only 4000 inhabitants there all year around, against nearly 6000 in the 1970s.
Whilst many other areas of France have suffered in recent years under the weight of the financial crisis, in Deauville demand continues to outstrip supply.
If prices in Deauville are unreachable for most ordinary mortals, where to buy if you want to be within range of the town?
Well, if all you want is proximity and functionality then within a radius of 3 to 10 kilometres there are a large number of small villages and hamlets with properties that are more affordable.
Some of the rather charmless, modern developments in a number of these areas have suffered in the market over the past few years and now look better value for money, provided of course you have no important aesthetic considerations.
For character and life neighbouring Trouville offers a similar ambiance to Deauville, with an attractive, animated town centre near the seaside, where home owners can enjoy themselves without the bother of having to jump in the car. The town is frequently regarded as more authentic than its illustrious neighbour.
Although you should not expect to find a bargain here, in comparison with Deauville it does have a larger stock of small houses over apartments. Many of them are attractive, if small, ex fishermen’s cottages, which can be had for from upwards €150,000. Other attractive properties can average around €4,000m² to €4,500m².
There’s not much in Trouville in need of major renovation, but if you are prepared to pick up a shovel they are the properties where price negotiation is a more realistic possibility. The further away from the town centre, the greater the discount you should be able to obtain.
If you are prepared to go further afield, and particularly if you are prepared to resist the lure of a seaside location, then Lower Normandy holds a treasure of wonderful properties and villages.
The average price in the region for older houses is around €135,000, but with large variations between the three departments (Calvados, Manche and Orne) and the type and size of property.
Some of the most beautiful properties in the region fetch an asking price well over €500,000 but for a budget of around €250,000 you can get a lot for your money.
Not surprisingly, the department of Calvados in the north is the most expensive area, with average prices of €165,000. However, according to the notaires, house prices have fallen in each of the past three years and have continued to fall in the first quarter of 2014.
Further south into the Orne department it is even more affordable, with house prices averaging around €100,000. While property prices in France over the past 10 years have risen by over 100%, in the Orne they have risen by half this amount. Here again, according to the notaires, house prices have fallen considerably in the past three years to December 2013, a trend that has continued into 2014.
The rural nature of Orne (and for that matter the Manche) is very attractive for those seeking a more relaxed and laid back lifestyle, and to those looking for self-sufficiency, as many homes come with large plots of land.
The Pays d’Auge, an area which stretches over the departments of Calvados and Orne is a particularly bucolic part of the region, where every other village you encounter seems to bring up a name of one or another famous cheeses, such as Pont l’Eveque and Camembert.
One of the attractions about buying away from the coast is that over 70% of the sales are to those who currently live in the department, so not only is there less international competition, but the areas are more stable and traditional.