Landes is one of the departments composing Aquitaine, in the south west of France. Covering a small part of the former province of Gascony, which at that time was huge, the Landes has become an ever more popular destination for French property buyers. Indeed, you will be seduced by its diverse cultural heritage, fantastic cuisine, lovely seaside resorts and beautiful scenery!
Landes is the second largest department in France. It also accounts for a huge forest mainly composed of pines, several times destroyed/damaged by violent storms (1999, 2009). The Foret des Landes is actually the largest forest in Europe, and it covers 67% of the area. The remaining 33% of the territory are divided between Chalosse, a hilly and green area, where livestock farming (ducks and beefs) as well as corn growing dominate, and Tursan vineyard in the east of the region.
Landes is a very authentic place, a typical southern French department with strong traditions and a nice weather all year round. The prefecture is Mont de Marsan, a lovely town located in the middle of the pine forest. In summer, when the weather is generally very warm, these woods allow the local properties to stay cool.
The Landes department is famous for the local food and for the windsurfing spots along its coasts such as Biscarosse and Cap Breton. The area also stands out for its very popular summer partying habits. In terms of property, the traditional Landais-style cottages with a canopy and surrounded by forests are great assets, in Occitan (the local language) they are called Oustau houses.
Last but not least, with great transport links to Spain and the rest of France including the TGV high-speed train line, several motorways and an international airport, this sunny piece of France is nowadays just a stone throw from Great Britain/ Paris.
Prices in Landes have been soaring since 1998, the only exception to this rule being large properties comprising at least 3 or 4 rooms. Between 2003 and 2006, rise in prices was very sharp while for the last 3 years the market has cooled down, with more reasonable rates. Many bargains are available in the major cities and towns of the department.
Obvious reasons for the popularity of the department are the climate and the slower rhythm of life in this area of France (an outstanding number of sunshine hours per year), to give but a few. If you are a food lover, the Landes department will definitely be a heaven for you as many delights are produced in this area of France, such as the Foie Gras, Duck confit, local truffles and Bayonne ham for instance.
Nowadays, the most common investments are second homes, with an average price of about €210,000 for a house. Buy to let in this area of Aquitaine is a clever idea as the climate and environment of the area are very seductive, tourism being one of the main economic strengths of the region. In cities such as Dax, the rental market for an apartment is also positive as students are constantly looking for flats or studios – especially because the well-know Ferias feasts in summer!
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Landes is renowned amongst foreigners for its climate, food traditions and sand beaches. It is very appealing for international property buyers but also a great place to purchase if you plan to open a bed and breakfast, restaurant or guest house. As a result this area of France is one of the most loved ones amongst Brits.
Location and transport links: the location of the Landes department is probably its main asset as it is the reason why so many people want to go over there. With 106km of sand white beaches, the area is a heaven for surfers, and also for people looking for a sunny and warm place to spend their holidays or to have their second home. Its proximity to the Basque Country, and hence to Spain is also an advantage. As far as transport is concerned, the department is directly linked to Paris thanks to the TGV (high speed train) going from Dax to Paris in only 4 hours. There is also an international airport in Bordeaux, only 1h45 from Dax and Mont de Marsan.
Gourmet food: all the south west area of France is renowned for its delicious gastronomy, and the Landes department is not an exception. The specialty of the area is of course the traditional duck, with its Foie Gras, but also the magret de canard and the Confit de canard. A typical dish to order in restaurant is the assiette landaise (also called salade landaise) which gathers most of the duck meat, with lettuce, tomatoes and some toasted bread. With over than 100km of coastline, fishes and sea fruits are also part of the local gastronomy. Mussels ‘a la plancha’ with garlic and parsley is a delicious and easy specialty to make. The typical desert is the Pastis landais, which is a kind of brioche with a vanilla and Armagnac flavour. Many renowned chefs have settled in the area, for your taste buds’ satisfaction. For instance in magescq you will find the Relais de la Poste with the famous chief Coussau.
Thermal spots: there are five thermal stations in the department that attract many tourists: Dax, Saint-Paul-lès-Dax, Saubusse-les-Bains, Préchacq-les-Bains and Eugénie-les-Bains. Dax station is the first one in France, while Eugenie-les-Bains is the first slimness village in France. Buying a property near these thermal stations can be a very good investment for a buy-to-let, as demand for rents is very high especially in summer, but even during the rest of year.
The “sliver coast”: with 106 kilometres of coasts, the Landes department represents the largest fine sand beach in Europe. Most of tourism concentrates around the silver coast (from Bordeaux to the Basque Country), where surf spots are worldwide renowned. Beach resorts are also numerous, and include: Biscarosse, Mimizan, Messanges, Moliets, Vieux Boucau, Hossegor, Capbreton, etc. The Silver Coast can be characterized by large white fine sand beaches, a lot of waves and very crowded in summer. This provides an abundant clientele for guest houses and restaurants.
Lifestyle: way of life and culture in Landes are similar to the rest of the south west of France, this is to say, very laid back and festive. During summer, each town and village has its own Feria, which is a typical festivity that lasts around 4-5 days including the week end. The ferias of Dax and Mont de Marsan are amongst the most famous ones in France. If you want to have a traditional experience in Landes you must not miss these traditional ferias, they are an opportunity to meet with the locals, while discovering the true culture.
Biscarosse property: the town is split in two parts: the part around the lake and the city centre by the seafront. Between them there is the large Foret landaise. with two lakes and the seafront, Biscarosse is the ideal place for nature and water sports enthusiasts.
Capbreton property: is worldwide renowned for its surf spot, the 'Quicksiliver Pro', which takes place every year and is a round of the world championship. Capbreton is also a very posh beach resort which offers beautiful beaches and the Landes forest.
Dax property: it has been renowned since very ancient times for its thermal baths. Nowadays it is the first thermal resort in France. It is also well renowned in France for its traditional festivities and for its laid back lifestyle.
Mimizan property: it is a small coastal town which is full of charm. The nickname of this town is ‘the jewel in the crown of the silver coast’ for its lovely beaches and town centre boasting some architectural gems such as the Woolsack castle (built by a duke of Westminster in 1911) or the Art Déco post office.
Mont de Marsan property: it is called locally ‘the town with three rivers’. Located along the Landes pine forest, it is renowned for its extreme temperatures in winter as in summer - the current record being -22°C in January 1985 and +41.5°C during the summer 2003.
Soustons property: with 6,800 inhabitants, Soustons is one of the biggest towns in the Landes Atlantic Coast. With a 6km beach, a lake and a golf course, Soustons is an ideal place if you like outdoor activities.
Tarnos property: this coastal town comprises 12,000 inhabitants. Located in the Landes department it has however a string Basque culture, owing to its closeness to Bayonne, its neighbour.
The Landes classic house styles are the result of the local climate, economy and history. Aquitaine has been a very sought-after piece of land for centuries, thus the region has plenty of castles. Other property styles are the result of the climate, notably the strong winds from the Atlantic.
Bastide houses: this type of house has a square or rectangular shape, with a tiled - almost flat - roof and stone walls sometimes covered with stucco or whitewashed. During the 19th and 20th centuries, many Bastides were used as summer houses by wealthy citizens of Aquitaine - they are still ideal holiday properties.
Oustau properties: the original Oustaù is a half-timbered property with a wood pigeon wing-shaped roof. A carpenter would generally build the whole house using local wood and trees. These traditional houses are generally oriented with the back of the house facing the dominant wind direction coming from the Atlantic ocean.
Longere: the longere is a traditional lengthwise house with the back of the house facing the dominant wind direction. Similarly to other traditional properties in France, regional materials were often used to build a Longere. Many longères offer accommodation on only one storey. The attic is now often converted into a first floor accommodation to increase the total living area.
Click here for more info about Architecture in Aquitaine.
|Take a closer look at the Landes property market:|
|Biscarosse Property Information||Capbreton Property Information|
|Dax Property Information||Mimizan Property Information|
|Mont de Marsan Property Information||Soustons Property Information|
|Tarnos Property Information|