Ain Property Insight

Ain is one of the eight departments composing the Rhône Alpes region, in the south east of France. It is located in the northern part of Rhône Alpes and shares borders with Saone-et-Loire, Jura (north), Haute-Savoie, Savoie (east), Rhone (west) and Isere (south). The préfecture of Ain is Bourg-en-Bresse, the main other towns being Belley, Gex and Nantua. The department accounts for 573,500 inhabitants. Its name comes from the Ain River, which runs through the area from the north to the south.


Located between Lyon and Geneva, the Ain department offers varied landscapes. The western part of the area has an abundance of plains (Bresse, the Ain plain, etc.) or low plateaus with numerous lakes (Dombes), whereas we can find many valleys and mountains like in Revermont ridge in the eastern part of the department (Gex, Bugey…). The highest peak of the Jura massif and department is called Le Crêt de la Neige - 1,720m. Snow-covered peaks, pastures, pond or hedged farmlands, nature in this department will definitely surprise and seduce you! The area of the Dombes is home to the largest bird park in Europe. The numerous lakes of the area offer wonderful sceneries and allow the practise of varied leisure activities.

The Ain department is full of traditions and boasts a great gastronomy as well as delicious wines. Numerous vineyards can indeed be found in the area around Bugey. Plenty of villages and towns are worth visiting such as the character towns of Pérouges or Trévoux. Bourg-en-Bresse, Nantua and Divonne are historical towns which have many assets.

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Ain Immobilier & Property Market Trends

With an average price of €2,592 / square metre in 2009, Ain is not the cheapest departments of the Rhône Alpes region. However, housing price in the department is still below the national average: €3,197 / square metre. In 2008, an apartment in the area cost about €2,050 / square metre. Studio flats are more expensive than 4-room apartments: €2,430/sq m against €2,030/sq m. This can be explained by the higher demand for studio flats in the department. If you plan to buy a new apartment, you will spend about €3,260 / square metre. Prices may vary of course depending on the location and size of the property.

Investing in a house in the Ain department cost about €226,500 in 2008. The range of prices vary a lot according to the area. For instance, a house in Belley costs in average €167,100, whereas one in the surroundings of Gex it should cost about €451,700. The Ain department has plenty of beautiful properties on offer, why not be the owner of one of them?

To get updated info about property prices in Ain, please browse our French Property Market Reports published in the News Section every month.

Click here to learn more about Rhone Alpes’ Property Prices.

5 Reasons to Buy a Property in Ain

  • Nature: nature lovers will be seduced by this department which has an unspoilt nature and numerous natural areas of a great beauty on offer! La Dombes spreads over the Saône et Ain departments and has an abundance of ponds (about 1,000). The area is highly appreciated amongst fishers and hunters. We can also find plenty of birds there: ducks, pheasants, cormorants, gulls, herons and so on. People can admire them in the great birds’ park located in Villars-les-Dombes. The highest area of the department is home to a part of the regional natural park of Jura, which is also present in Jura and Doubs departments. You can enjoy mountainous landscapes in the Pays du Gex and Valserine valley for instance.

  • Religious heritage: Ain has a fantastic religious heritage with many monuments listed as historical ones. Amongst others, do not miss Ambronay’s abbey (benedictine abbey - historical monument), the shrine of Ars, Saint-Jean Baptiste cathedral in Belley (neo-gothical style), Notre Dame des Marais collegial in Montluel (14th century - historical monument), Saint André church in Bagé (historical monument) and the royal monastery of Brou.

  • Events: the area is home to numerous events you will enjoy attending. The music festival of Ambronay has been held since 1980 and attracts more and more people each year. During this festival, you can enjoy listening to ancient and baroque music from the Middle Ages. The Fête de l’oiseau is a traditional celebration in the area which has taken place since the Middle Ages in Gex. Belley houses each year since 1985 an event called Les entretiens de Belley which promotes the regional gastronomy of France through exhibitions and conferences.

  • Activities: the Ain department offers varied activities that can be done throughout the year. In winter, you can ski in the Bugey and Gex areas, in the Jura mountains. The upper part of the Bugey area and Hauteville plateau boast an outstanding situation. In summer, mountainbiking, quad biking and hang-gliding are very popular in several spots across the department. Fishing and hunting are also sports which can be practised in the Ain department.

  • Gastronomy: the department boasts great culinary specialities such as delicious cheeses - Bleu de Bresse, Bleu de Gex, Ramequin and Comté - dumplings in Nantua crayfish sauce and AOC chickens of Bresse. Chickens of the Bresse area are indeed renowned for their high quality. They are cooked in varied delicious dishes and shared during convivial meals. Ain also produces great wines such as the vins du Bugey, Cru Manicle and Le Cerdon. Bugey’s vineyards spread on a large part of the territory: 500 hectares from the Jura to the Ain Valley. Famous wines such as Chardonnay, Gamay and Pinot Noir are produced in these vineyards.

Local Property Market: 5 Popular Towns

  • Belley property: the town accounts for 8,500 inhabitants and is the subprefecture of Ain. Belley is a lovely town set in the middle of vineyards, surrounded with massive hills. Mouthwatering local produce and rich architecture draw many visitors especially during summer. Along with this, buying property in Belley is less expensive than in most other towns of Ain.
  • Bourg-en-Bresse property: the administrative town of the department boasts a fascinating religious heritage as well as a good gastronomy and vibrant cultural life. The town is set in a natural area: the plain of Bresse, characterized by hedged farmlands. The Jura mountains and Dombes are also close to the town whose property market is really affordable with an average price of €1,653/sq m for a property to buy.
  • Gex property: located only a few kilometers from the Swiss frontier and the capital, Geneva, Gex benefits a lot from the neighbouring activities around the Leman Lake. The area offers plenty of activities and interesting places to visit (Fort l’Écluse for instance). Property prices in Gex are expensive, but there are great rental opportunities in this lovely area.
  • Oyonnax property: located in the north of the department, at the foot of the Jura mountain range, Oyonnax is a charming town with plenty of parks and green areas. The town itself has been influenced a lot by industrial activities, and is still nowadays an important industrial area with the Plastics Valley. Prices in this town are very affordable in comparison to the rest of the department or to the French average.
  • Thoiry property: located 20 minutes from Geneva, Thoiry benefits from great transport links through its airport and the landscapes around are simply stunning. The higher prices of properties in the town are compensated by a very good rental potential especially as sport and nature lovers love the area.
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Property Styles and Architecture in Ain

  • Renovated farmhouses: you will find numerous farmhouses in all the department. Situated in the countryside, these properties come with a large piece of land and outbuildings. Farmhouses, especially once restored, are full of character. They often date from the 18th century and offer great possibilities of extension. Farmhouses have many rooms of large dimensions as well as an attic, garage and so on. Inside the property, wood beams are visible in the ceilings. Stone walls give all the authenticity to the house. They are the perfect kind of property for those looking for a large property in a quiet area.

  • Town houses, apartments, etc: the Ain department doesn’t have many particular property styles. Indeed, we can find all kind of properties there such as town houses (attached, semi-detached or detached), apartments of varied style (small or large, modern or traditional, etc.), but also renovated water mills or 18th century manors. Given the properties the area has on offer, you will definitely find your dream house there!

Click here for more info about Architecture in Rhone Alpes.

Take a closer look at the Ain property market:
Belley Property Information Bourg-en-Bresse Property Information
Gex Property Information Oyonnax Property Information
Thoiry Property Information