Located in the Loiret department and in the Centre region, Gien is a lovely medieval town of 16,110 inhabitants, called the Giennois. Overlooking the Loire River, the last wild European River, Gien offers many old monuments, vestiges of its prestigious past. It also offers two museums, for which the town is renowned, the International Hunting Museum, and the earthenware factory museum.
Gien is a town rich of a unique historic heritage. First traces of occupation date back to the prehistoric period. Over the centuries, Gien developed, and the small hamlet became a town with four surrounding walls. In 1199 the town was incorporated to the French crown. After this period, Gien suffered from many wars, from the one that opposed the Armagnacs againt the Bourguignons, to the World War II, with in the middle the 100 years war, Religious war, etc.
However, nowadays Gien has recovered from these times of suffering and is a lively and peaceful town which attracts as much tourists for its past heritage, as permanent residents for its dynamism. Its proximity to Paris (150km) has helped it a lot to develop, as well as the numerous communication axis going through or next the town.
In 2009 a property is sold €3,197 /sq m in average in France. In Gien properties are sold around €1,670 /sq m, which is very affordable noy omly when compared to the French average, but also to the Loiret department (€2,020 /sq m). These prices are surprising if we take into account all the assets the area displays: proximity to the French capital city, good quality of life, including good food and nice landscapes, good transport location. Moreover, as 52% of residents are tenants, and considering that the area is a key destination for tourists, buying a property in Gien can be an excellent investment for a buy-to-let.
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Culture, art and historical heritage: due to its unique historical past, Gien displays many monuments and places, vestiges of wars and influential people. Of course, the main monument that must not be missed is Anne de Beaujeu’s Castle (see below). Other impressive monuments include the Sainte Jeanne d’Arc Church (former Saint Pierre Church). It was erected during the 15th century and then destroyed during World War II in 1940. Following the war it was reconstructed in a Roman style, under André Gélis supervisory control, the chief architect of Historical Monuments. Alix’ house is another incontrovertible monument that ought to be seen. It is one of the only houses that have been saved from WW II bombings. Finally, vestiges of what used to be the surrounding walls can be seen all around the town.
At the heart of touristic itineraries: Gien, with its historical monuments, is located in three key touristic itineraries. The first one is Jeanne d’Arc Road, which records the ride of the French heroin across France; the second one is Jacques Coeur Road, which goes from Culan (in Cher) until La Bussière (in Loiret) and gathers full of character towns, castles and places of interest; and finally the last but not the least, the Historical Road of Kings’ Valley, which is a renowned itinerary that gathers many significant places where Kings’ history used to follow the Loire course.
Good food: the Centre region is prosperous to grow all kind of fruits and vegetables. Gien area is not an exception. Honey, fuits, vegetables, farmer cheeses, etc. can be found in the traditional street markets. Do not forget to taste the typical Saint-Gondon andouille, which was awarded many prizes (between others, the first European prize), or Saint-Brisson asparagus.
Tourism – sights: apart from architectural monuments, you will also find two main museums, worldwide renowned: the earthenware factory museum and the International Hunting Museum. The earthenware factory was created in 1821 and since then it has made the town famous. It is indeed the most prestigious within France, and it reached its peak during the 1889 universal exhibition, where they made the 3metre high and 1.12metre wide “peacock vase”. In the museum you can see one of the finest masterpieces of this beautiful art. The International Hunting Museum is located into Anne de Beaujeu’s castle. It shows the evolution of hunting techniques and habits from Middle-Ages until today.
Anne de Beaujeu’s Castle: it is said to be one of the first Châteaux de la Loire, as much for its geographical location, as for its date of construction. Indeed, the castle was built during the 15th century, over the ruins of a fortress which dated back to Charlemagne’s period. Only one square tower was left from this fortress. Anne de Beaujeu was Louis XI’s daughter and the castle was erected for her. During the French revolution, Louis XIV and Anne d’Autriche took refuge into the castle. It did not suffer from the Revolution, neither from the WWII, unlike Gien town. The architecture is rather original: it was built at the beginning of the Renaissance; hence it has some Renaissance features, while the Italian style is not present.
Location – transport links: the geographical situation of the town is a significant asset. It is located at only 150km from Paris and linked to the capital city by the A77 motorway and by the Paris - Nevers train line. There are also many national and departmental roads leaded to Paris. Whence it is close by international airports, such as Orly and Roissy-Charles de Gaulle.
As the town was partly destroyed during WWII, unfortunately you will not find many old houses in sale. You will be more lucky to find town houses and apartments.
Town houses: they are very varied, as their size can range from 100sq m to 150sq m. On the ground floor you will usually find a modern kitchen, a living room with a fireplace, a bathroom and separated wc. The stairs lead to bedrooms, 2 or 3 depending on the size, another bathroom and sometimes a small workroom. The advantage is that they are close to all amenities, hence no need to take the car. However they do come with a garage and sometimes with a piece of garden.
Apartments: there is no special architecture for apartments in Gien. They represent 42% of dwellings, and since 52% of residents are tenants, they can be an excellent buy-to-let investment.
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