The Indre-et-Loire department is more famous as the Touraine area. It is one of the six departments of the Centre region and is situated in the south west of the region. It gathers 580,310 inhabitants, called the Tourangeaux , which is actually the same name as Tours’ inhabitants. Tours is the administrative centre of the department, the sous-préfectures being Chinon and Loches.
Touraine area has been highly marked by the Middle-Ages and the Renaissance periods, when it used to be the French Kings’ main residence. Landscapes, towns and villages, history, culture, everything in Touraine will bring you few centuries ago, at the 100 years war or at the Renaissance time. The gastronomy is another incontrovertible asset of the department. Touraine is also called the ‘French garden’, in reference to its parks and flowers gardens, but above all to its delicious vegetables and fruits grown in this region where climate and geography are gathered to produce the best ingredients ever!
Indre-et-Loire was created in 1790, at the same time as the other 82 French departments. Its territory gathers almost the entire former Touraine province, more the eastern part of the Anjou province. Climate in the department is temperate. Actually, the Loire River, which runs through the department, is said to be the climate border between the north and the south of France. Thus, summers are usually quite hot (around 30°C), while winters are not too cold (no less than -10°C). Finally, pluviometry is rather low (between 500 and 700mm per year).
As regards economy, the Indre-et-Loire department must be divided into five different sectors. First of all, Tours, an administrative and tertiary centre which houses a significant scientific and technological pole; and then four rural areas characterised by their geographical difference: the axis along the Loire River is favourable to market garden produce; the axis along the Vienne Riverand around Chinon is more favourable to wine production; economy in the south east of Touraine, around Loches, is based on tourism and holidaymakers; and finally, the Gâtine (north/north west of the department) has been hit by the mutations in farming and is having a bad time.
|Property prices in Indre-et-Loire department in 2009|
|Property types||Price €/ sq m||Average price €||Average size|
|Duplex apartment||2,884||269,618||102sq m|
|Indre-et-Loire Total||€2,170/sq m|
Indre-et-Loire is a very attractive area, both for its numerous assets and for its house prices. Since the national average is around €3,197 /sq m, it is very surprising to notice that Touraine prices are slightly lower than €2,200 /sq m, which makes it a very affordable place. However, it is more expensive than the Centre region average, which is around €1,843 /sq m. This can be explained by the presence of Tours and all the very famous castles within the department. Since prices are quite low, and since the very good location as a touristic key destination, buying a property in Touraine can be a very good investment for a buy-to-let. Tourists are looking for authentic houses, which can explained the number of gîtes and the presence of troglodytic hostels.
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Religious and historical heritage: during Middle Ages Touraine was an important religious and pilgrimage centre, as the starting point of the Saint-Jean de Compostelle pilgrimage road. As a result, many beautiful religious monuments were built. They all have one thing in common: Saint Martin. He used to be the bishop of Tours, and during his reign the town developed a lot. To its honour, Tours’ basilica bears its name. Apart from Tours’ monuments, the religious influence is also present in the entire department.
Good food: as already mentioned, Touraine is renowned to produce excellent quality fruits and vegetables, as well as tasty mushrooms (truffle) and wines. All this fresh food can be found in the typical street markets in any towns of the department. Thanks to the Loire River and its tributaries, the department has also to offer a large range of fishes, such as: pikes, pike perches, salmons, eels, etc. Owing to its natural culinary assets, many gastronomic artists come from Touraine; they are as varied as winemakers, pork butchers, pastry cooks, etc. All of them cook in a traditional way, perpetuating centenary recipes. Finally, you must not miss the typical fruits tapés. They are dehydrated fruits in a bread oven. Each village has its speciality: pears in Rivarennes, apples in Turquant, etc. They can either been eaten dry, either rehydrated in a cup of wine!
Cultural tourism: in the Indre-et-Loire department many museums, mostly art and cultural ones, are to be found. They tell the story of the area, mainly through famous people and Kings’ history. In Tours there are the Beaux-Arts museum, the Compagnonnage museum (a French organization of craftsmen and artisans dating from the Middle Ages, but still active today). In Descartes you will obviously find the Descartes museum, while in Azay-le-Rideau the Dufresne museum is to be found. Between others, you will find the Leather museum in Château-Renault and the Poire Tapée museum in Rivarennes. As a result of being an inspiration destination for many writers, you will also find in the department three main houses that can be visited: The Devinière, François Rabelais’s house, Saint-Cosme, Pierre de Ronsard’s home and Saché castle Honoré de Balzas’s residence.
Gardens and parks: during the Renaissance, when wars started to stop in France, fortresses have opened towards immense lands, making parks and gardens a new life space. The new competition then was to have the most beautiful and imaginative garden. Among them, Villandry is renowned to be one of the most attractive gardens in the world. Its fame is based on its French squares, for which there was a big celebration in 2008 for its 100 year anniversary. However, gardens and parks are varied and numerous in Touraine, and offer an amazing show almost every day of the year. No wonder Touraine was called “France gardens”!
Castles: with no doubts, Touraine is worldwide renowned for its Châteaux de la Loire, which attract thousands of tourists every year. In Indre-etLoire there are 13 castles out of 40 in the whole Centre region. Even though all the castles are not in Touraine, the most beautiful and renowned ones are in the area. Hence, you will find the Chenonceau castle, one of the most beautiful Renaissance architecture models, the Amboise castle, it used to be the royal castle, built according to the Italian fashion, Clos Lucé castle, where lived and died Leonardo da Vinci, and the Chanteloup pagoda, a Chinesesque unique monument from where you have a breathtaking view over all the area.
Troglodytic houses: this kind of housing is very common mainly in Anjou, Touraine and Saumurois. They used to be caves dug during Middle Ages in order to extract freestone from the rock. Then they were dwelt by poor farmers. Due to the location, they used to be very small houses, one storey high, and usually with a unique room. However, over the years, additions have been built outside the rock, making them comfortable and luxury houses. These latter are called semi-troglodytic houses, and are the more common in the market. Nowadays, these houses have been transformed into luxury hotels, museums, and some of them into common houses.
Farmhouses: in the countryside you will ind this kind of dwellings. They are huge houses and come with a big piece of land that can be used as a garden. They have usually been restored, or if you are manual and have time, you might want to buy an old one and restore it yourself, which of course would be cheaper for you. Farmhouses are traditional French house, hence they come with a traditional kitchen, a stone fireplace, a big dinning room, and few bedrooms according to the size. There are also some independent buildings, which used to be stables for cattles.
Half-timbered and stone houses: these houses were built during the 15th century and are mainly situated in medieval quarters in towns such as Tours and Chinon. As many half-timbered houses, the down part of the house is in stone and the upper part boasts a beautiful colombage where timber frame and bricks are mixed into beautiful geometrical shapes. These houses are usually quite big, are two-storey high. Some of them might come with an interior courtyard; they have a traditional big kitchen, many bedrooms, 1 or 2 bathrooms, independent toilet. The inside is beautifully decorated with timber and freestone.
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|Take a closer look at the Indre-et-Loire property market:|
|Amboise Property Information||Chinon Property Information|
|Loches Property Information||Richelieu Property Information|
|Tours Property Information|