Dax was built along the river Adour, between Bayonne and Mont de Marsan, in the Landes department. With 20,810 inhabitants, called the Dacquois, the town is the sub administrative centre of the department. Dax is renowned since the Antiquity for its thermal waters, which made it the first thermal resort in France.
Historically, Dax belongs to the Gascony area; however, its location at the crossroads of different countries has made it a town rich of different cultures and influences. As a matter of fact, the town is situated between the Chalosse area in the east, the Marensin in the north west, and the Grande Lande in the north. Moreover, this also explains its diversified landscape, composed of green hills around Chalosse, pines forest in the south west and wooded plains in the north.
The Adour River, which runs through Dax, is a very important asset of the town. The River is the natural border between two historical areas: the Marensin and the Chalosse. The construction of the bridge in Dax to cross the river and then the construction of the fortifications made by Romans made the town a very important centre in the area. It became a harbour-town, a bridge-town, and a market-town. Owing to the fact that the Adour used to be the only commercial axis in the south of France, Dax was also a trade centre, and the existence of markets and fairs was important during its whole history.
Climate in Dax is fairly the same in the whole department. Owing to the proximity to the ocean, summer is usually warm and lasts from June to Septembre, fall is rather sunny, winter and spring are rather rainy. Dax is located 30 kilometres from beach resorts, but is still a very busy town all year long owing to the thermal resort.
Since the national average for property prices in 2009 is around €3,200/sq m, Dax with €2,489/sq m can be considered as a rather affordable town. This is all the more true that the Landes average is around €2,726/sq m. The fact that Dax is cheaper than the department average can be explained as properties along the coastline are very sought-after and as a consequence rather prohibitive, which of course brings prices up.
As far as the rental market is concerned, Dax offers great opportunities. With 60% of residents being tenants, and with high demand all year long, thanks to the thermal station, buying in property in Dax is definitely a good investment for a buy-to-let.
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Thermal resort: with 55,000 patients going to thermal baths every year, Dax is the first thermal resort in France, even in front of Vichy and Vittel. Actually, the whole economy in Dax is based on tourism and on the thermal station. The later is composed of 15 buildings, all offering the same water and the same mud, but they are more or less specialized according to the patient’s illness. Dax is specialized in three field: rheumatology, phlebology and gynaecology. The Fontaine Chaude, located in the centre of the town are the symbol of the balneology in Dax. They were built during the Gallo-Roman era by Romans who were already using the 60°C.
Outdoor activities: Dax is located between the sea and a huge lake. It is also surrounded with a pine forest which allows many activities such as walking, cycling etc. Dax has the following sport and leisure clubs: two horse riding clubs, canoeing, windsurfing club, surf club, fishing association, two swimming pools, bicycle rentals, quad bike riding, one golf course and a paintball club.
Historical heritage: as already mentioned, Dax was an important town during History, thanks to both its bridge and its thermal station. As a consequence, the town is full of many beautiful buildings, vestiges of its time of glory. In some places you are able to see some remains of the Romans ramparts, while the Notre Dame Sainte Marie cathedral is impressive and one of a kind in the south of France. Strolling in the old centre is a good option to visit and discover the town. Do not miss the many mansions located everywhere in the town and which are a good representation of the luxury way of life they used to have in this town. The bullring is an important asset of the town. It was built in 1913 and is one of the seven first category bullrings in France.
Festivities: Dax would not be a true Gascony town if it did not display the traditional Feria. Actually, Dax boasts the feria, around the 15th of August and an other festivity called Toros y Salsa around the second week of Septembre. Dax ferias are very renowned all around France and attract thousands of people each year. They last six days and are characterized by corrida (bullfighting). There are nine of them (four different types) during the whole week of festivities. During these six days the town is unrecognizable and an atmosphere of party and joy dominates. Bars and pubs are full days alike nights, you can hear bandas (traditional Spanish-like group of music) in each squares, etc. festivities in Septembre are a bit different, as they are quieter and less crowded. They focuse more on bullfighting and salsa than on partying. However, they are both an excellent way to meet with locals and to share this tradition which means a lot to them.
As every town of character, there are particular architectural styles to respect if you build a house in Dax. Here are the most renowned:
Landaise houses: the original Oustaù is a half-timbered property boasting a wood pigeon-shaped roof. These houses are generally located in or around woods. A carpenter would basically build the whole house, using local wood and trees. The walls are traditionally made up of a clay mixture with straw, filled with cob (sometimes replaced by bricks).
Arcachonnaise houses: if the Victorian architecture of Arcachon’s villas is nowadays considered to be charming, this property style has yet been criticised for decades. These houses generally feature stained glass, ornate balconies and intricate brickwork.
Basque-style houses: the traditional Basque property is the Etxe. With its white, red colours, its door exposed to the east, that traditionally displays the date of construction and the name of the owner above the entrance, the Maison Basque is unique. It is of rectangular shape, is often of large dimensions and represents the very strong Basque identity and culture. The main feature they all share is to provide warm accommodation for the occupying family - and their livestock (in years gone by).
Longères: the longère is a lengthwise house oriented with the back of the house facing the dominant wind direction. These are usually very simple and affordable houses. The materials used are local stones, and often, longères offer accommodation on only one storey.
Maisons de Maitre: this type of house is large and elegant. The shape of the house is square or rectangular with a tiled - almost flat - roof, the walls are made up of stone and sometimes covered with stucco or whitewashed. The layout is symmetrical with many windows. A large piece of land comes with the house, ideal for your summertime BBQs!
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