Cotes d’Armor Property Insight
The Cotes d’Armor department is located at the western tip of France, in the Brittany region. Surrounded by the Finistère (west), Morbihan (south) and Ile et Vilaine (east), this authentic department also borders the English Channel. As it is very close to the UK and easily reachable, the Cotes d’Armor lure visitors as well as investors who long for authenticity and are eager to discover the Breton traditions. As the original name of the region Arvor (“sea” in Breton) referred to, the Cotes d’Armor’s economy and popularity rely on the sea – water sports, local produce and activities relating to the 17 harbours the department hosts.
This homely department of Cotes d’armor offers various landscapes, from the peaceful 350km-long coastline along the Channel to the unspoilt countryside filled with stone houses and hedged farmland. The departmental council thus developed sustainable projects to promote and protect the natural settings – the six so-called “Maisons Nature” for example are cultural centres throughout Cotes d’Armor with specific play exhibitions and tours to make visitors and locals discover and enjoy the region.
One of Cotes d’Armor’s assets is indeed the rich and wide choice of activities adapted to every audience – from disabled people to kids or students. The main cities of the department – St Brieuc (the prefecture), Dinan, Guingamp or Lannion (sub-prefectures) – are now much popular amidst foreigners, offering different sights from the well-known Atlantic coast or French Riviera.
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Cotes d’Armor Immobilier & Property Market Trends
In spite of its perfect location and precious natural assets, the Cotes d’Armor department is still the second cheapest area in Brittany: about €1,700/ sq m on average for ancient buildings when property prices in Morbihan and Ille et Vilaine can go up to €2,000/ sq m – the average for the whole Brittany being €1,950/ sq m. But be aware that prices are constantly increasing (including when the property market is globally slowing down).
There is no doubt that the thriving economy and tourism in Cotes d’Armor over the last decade have led holidaymakers to buy second homes there or to run letting businesses. Some villages have even more holiday houses than main dwellings – implying that their population is likely to double in the summertime!
Guingamp retains the best bargains on offer (typical stone houses for less than €100,000 can still be found) whilst Saint Brieuc and Lannion are already at the same rank than the neighbouring popular cities in Morbihan. Nevertheless, over the last months, housing prices have accordingly been soaring in the towns that border the E50 European road: the homely towns of Guingamp and Lamballe have indeed been “victims of their own success”.
To get updated info about housing prices in the Dordogne, please browse our French Property Market Reports published in the News Section every month.
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5 Reasons to Buy a Property in Cotes d’Armor
Impressive relief, peaceful beaches, preserved areas, friendly locals and eco-friendly facilities – do you need more than that? Below are some of the Cotes d’Armor’s assets that both locals and holidaymakers can enjoy all year round.
- Coastal scenery: with 350km of craggy coast, les Cotes d’Armor lure sailing enthusiasts as well as holidaymakers. The coastline includes small sandy beaches hidden at the foot of hills, majestic pink-granite boulders, medieval castles like the famous Fort la Latte, archipelagos with natural reserves (such as the surprising ornithological park on the Sept Iles). Saint Brieuc’s bay is the second largest in France – after the Mont St Michel’s one.
- Dynamism and job offer: economically speaking, Cotes d’Armor department is very dynamic, hosting some major research institutes – telecom and high technology in Lannion and biological studies near Saint-Brieuc being the most important. The exploitation of the sea is also a boosting factor – a huge production of scallops, 7 ports for trade and 17 fishing harbours – as well as agriculture in the inlands (especially pork breeding). The third thriving sector is obviously tourism, mainly developed in Perros-Guirec, Erquy, Pléneuf-Val-André and Saint-Cast-le-Guildo seaside resorts.
- Gallo-Breton traditions: Cotes d’Armor is a perfect combination of Gallo lifestyle (developed there in 1000, from the east) and Breton traditions (west). Both dialects are still spoken by the natives, popular feasts and festivals gather up both influences and, last but not least, local heritage (especially the architecture) recalls Roman as well as Celtic cultures. Even road signs have been translated in the different languages (in the 80s). An outstanding – thankfully preserved – regional melting-pot!
- Rental potential: as tourism has been thriving in western France – especially with Brits who appreciate the homely yet refreshing ambiance in the authentic Bretagne. Since 2006, the portion of second and holiday homes has been increasing – up to 50% of the accommodation in some resorts like Saint-Jacut-de-la-Mer, Elquy and Saint-Cast-le-Guildo. L’Ile de Bréhat is another highly regarded destination today.
- Transport links: recent lines have been introduced from/to London and East Midlands to Dinard airport (45minute-long, via Ryanair) and to Lannion airport (via Brit Air/Air France). Cotes d’Armor is also easily accessible by car (using the A11 motorway from Paris and RN 12, RN164, RN 176 national roads). Saint Brieuc and Lannion stations have also convenient high-speed train lines from/to Paris. Travelling from the UK by ferry boat can be another solution, the Cotes d’Armor being about 5h20 away from Calais and 4h from Dieppe.
Local Property Market: 5 Popular Towns
- Dinan property: Dinan abounds with particularities! Encircled with ramparts, this little fortified town was said to be inhabited from the Antiquity. It is crossed by the river Rance, implying stunning architectural styles (outstanding basilica, church, castle, convent, to give but a few). Bordering the Normandy, Dinan was highly regarded for its weavers.
- Guingamp property: although the town is famous for its football club (“En avant Guingamp”) in France, it is also the ambassador city of Breton dances, hosting a renowned folkloric festival every year.
- Lamballe property: named “capital of art and history” in 2005, the quaint town of Lamballe will seduce every lover of architecture, Breton culture and traditions. Offering impressive monuments, authentic handcraft and museums, Lamballe is well worth a visit – especially riding horse as the town is also renowned for its stud farm!
- Lannion property: located at the western tip of the Cotes d’Armor, Lannion is very close to the Finistère department. Built over the river Léguer, the market town is highly appreciated for its picturesque settings. This little town has been mainly boosted by the local airport (offering regular flights from/to Paris) and by the business park nearby (called “Anticipa” with foremost telecom and high tech companies).
- Saint Brieuc property: this charming town is the major city (prefecture) of the Cotes d’Armor and it also gives its name to the bay in which it is set – the second largest bay of France. Hosting more than 46,000 “Briochins”, St Brieuc is pretty lively and dynamic, making the most of its natural settings – halfway between Brest and Rennes, it is a well-known port of call when driving southwards from the UK!
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Property Styles and Architecture in Cotes d'Armor
Reminding both locals and visitors the history of the region, the ancient buildings of the Cotes d’Armor are some gems of architecture. From castles and hill-forts to abbeys and churches to mills, the department is honeycombed with historical monuments but it also offers traditional houses that used to match the Bretons’ daily activities.
- Timbered houses: the main feature of Cotes d’Armor’s town houses are their half-timbered façades. Dinan is particularly renowned for these typical high and narrow, corbelled buildings in which the ground floors were usually used as taverns or convivial venues whilst the upper floors were inhabited. Some of these timbered houses were built before 1600.
- Castles and manors: if the coast holds most of the 23 chateaux, Cotes d’Armor’s hinterland is honeycombed with authentic massive manoirs which date back to the 16th century and merge the Italian Renaissance style with the Gothic architecture. These huge estates were generally owned by wealthy Breton families. Some Gallo-Roman remains can also be found in the surroundings, like the great villa of Quiou which was recently refurbished.
- Mills: using water or wind, the 13 mills sitting in Cotes d’Armor are really worth a visit! They are indeed generally open to the public from June to September. Located on the riverside or on one of the picturesque little islands along the Channel coast, these lovely moulins have been generally restored in the 80s or 90s but still work as authentic mills working with tides, winds or river streams to produce flour.
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