Haute-Saône is part of the Franche Comté region in the east of France. It is a rural department which accounted for 235,867 inhabitants in 2006. Its urban population is split up into 5 towns: Luxueil-les-Bains (known for its thermal baths), Gray, Lure, Héricourt and Vesoul, the préfecture. As the population density is only of 43 inhabitants /sq km – which is less than the national average - it is the right place to live in tranquillity. This ‘green’ department with its 2,100 km of watercourses has also a rich and diversified heritage on offer.
The history of this department was hectic. During the Middle Ages, it continuously passed through different kingdoms. It also nestled numerous religious communities and was the theatre of several civil wars. During World War II, it was a hot-spot of the Resistance. Traces of this past are to be seen in the architecture and have moulded Haute Saone.
The department can be divided into five geographical units: a plain area crossed by the Saône, the river which gave its name to the department, the Ognon valley with limestone plateaus, a sandstone hills area in the north, the crystalline bulges of the southern Vosges and the dépression sous-vosgienne, which is characteristic of ancient massifs. This diversity of landscapes accounts for 2,250sq m of forests, it almost represents the half of the department’s area.
The coldest areas are in the north-east in the Vosges Massif where the climate is very unequal. The south-east area is usually warmer but winters are still hard. Due to its geological characteristics, the climate is often humid. The rainfalls are close to the national average.
Its economy is mainly based on the industry and service sectors but farming has been growing over the last years. It is turned towards the future but does not forget its past. This department of tradition and authenticity is proud of its local handcraft and makes every effort to preserve it. Most of the events taking place in Haute Saone are farming or cultural-linked. Along with the popular beliefs and legend, they contribute to the unique quality of life ruling here.
This department is particularly appreciated as a second place of life. Indeed, it accounts for 10% of second homes. There are also more large properties than small apartments with an average area of 140sq m. Apartments are mainly located in big towns while traditional houses are more present in the countryside.
The average buying price for an apartment is €1,308 /sq m and €175,559 for a house. Besides, prices tend to be higher in the biggest cities (for instance Vesoul with an average price of €1,757 /sq m.) It is important to notice that property prices in Haute Saone are really cheap compared to the average price in France (€3,197 /sq m). In Haute Saone, you will mostly find properties to buy in a price range from €1,000 /sq m to €2,100 /sq m.
As for the whole region, prices remain stable but slight evolutions depending on the type of property have to be noticed. From April 2008 to April 2009 prices of duplexes have increased by 34% and apartments of 8.7%. On the contrary, prices of villas have decreased by 8.2 %. At the end of 2008 prices halved but have since stabilized to reach a rather constant price, with an evolution of more or less 2% per month.
Properties for sale in Haute-Saone are for the most part old farmhouses, either already renovated or to renovate yourself, if you wish to live in a house really conform to your dreams. If you choose this second option, you can also drive a great bargain, as the property market for this type of estate is very affordable.
To get updated info about property prices in Haute Saone, please browse our French Property Market Reports published in the News Section every month.
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Local produce and wine: the two more consumed cheeses in Haute Saone are the emmental and the cancoillotte. To accompany it you can try the Luxeuil ham. For a more copious meal there is the pochouse, a delicious fish stew made with freshwater fish in white wine. If you have a sweet tooth, lots of different desserts are on offer: the Montbozon biscuits with their orange blossom flavour, the gusto cake, cherries in spirit or the belles-comtoises, which are sugar candies with chocolate in shape of cows. This department is also home of the absinthe and of the Champlitte, a fruity sparkling wine.
Tranquillity and scenery: this department is more rural than urban. Here you can enjoy the tranquillity of the countryside and the beauty of untouched landscapes. You can choose to discover Haute Saone from a typical ancient-like caravan pulled by horses or from a water point of view with a cruise along the numerous rivers. Views from the houses in the countryside are images of pure nature, allowing you to believe you belong to another century. The most beautiful area is without any doubt the Ballons des Vosges , with its rich fauna and flora.
Architectural sites: the Haute Saone department offers many castles to visit. From the Castle of Oricourt, a unique piece of medieval military architecture to the Castle of Villersexel which is part of the French Historical Monuments, the choice is wide. Religious art is not left behind, you can for instance gaze at the St Colomban abbey with its great organs. A must-visit site is the Chapel Notre-Dame-Du-Haut in Ronchamp. Designed by the famous architect Le Corbusier, one of the pioneer of the International Style, it is considered to be a real masterpiece of contemporary art.
Outdoor activities: there are plenty of nature-linked activities to practise. In winter you can train you at skiing or snowshoe trekking; for the rest of the year you have the choice: hiking, fishing, cycling, rollerblading, karting, playing golf... For the more adventurous, other activities like canoeing and paragliding are widely offered. To be fully in the heart of nature, you can go to the ‘adventure park’ of Montbozon and have a go at different courses in the trees. In order to refresh yourself during hot summers, you can bathe in the numerous rivers as well as in two aquatic complexes. To discover the region, you also have the possibility to do it actively with the Vélorail, a special bike on rails for several persons.
Curiosities to discover: Haute Saone is a department of curiosities. It has its own Tour Eiffel in Soing, a replica to the 1/20th of the Paris one. You can also take a look at the impressive St Albin tunnel, a 681 metres long underground canal. If you are willing to visit atypical museums, then you have to go to the Ecomuseum of Fougerolles, dedicated to the cherry (the emblem of the region). There you will learn about the history and production of the cherry, from the griotte to the kirsch. Another variant is the visit of distilleries, called the ‘gardens of aromas’.
Lava-roof farmhouses: these farmhouses are covered with a steep slope roof and the two equal sides fall towards the entrance and the back of the house. Lava is a special type of stone used mainly in roofs in Burgundy. Their putting in is delicate but with a regular maintenance they remain very solid and can last forever. This type of house is to be found in the Haute Saone area which is near to the Vosges.
Rural houses: you can find them mostly in the Saône Valley. Most of the time they are blockhouses separated in three spans: the dwelling, the barn and the cowshed or stable. Gaps are limited in order to protect from the cold. They are by the way the most ancient kind of properties to be found in this department.
Winegrower’s houses: there are generally attached aloft houses. The ground floor made of stone and the predominant wood with apparent beams in the rest of the house give a rustic charm to the property. The large ground floor gates used to permit the access of barrels to the cellar, which is usually buried. You can sometimes also find a pigeonnier, which is a kind of tower adding to its majestic aspect.
Click here for more info about the Architecture in Franche Comté.
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