Annonay is a town located in the Ardeche department, in Rhône Alpes. With 17,088 Annonéens, the town is the most populated town of Ardeche. Annonay is situated in the north of the department, close to important towns and cities: 40km from Saint Etienne, 45km from Valence and 60km from Lyon.
Located at the foot of the Monts Vivarais, Annonay has a nice setting. The town was built as an amphitheatre on seven hills at the confluence of two rivers: La Cance and La Deûme. Annonay is surrounded with varied reliefs. Due to its privileged situation, the area easily became an important commercial crossroad: between the Rhone Valley and Saint-Etienne as well as between Lyon and the southern part of the Massif Central. Annonay’s main assets are thus its geographical situation, but also the fact that people can live in a town and enjoy the pleasures of nature at the same time. The town is nowadays a touristy destination where life is really pleasant.
Annonay has a rich history. The town was indeed already very active during the Middle Ages. It was situated on the itinerary taken by the pilgrims of the Alps and Rhone Valley who went to pray the Virgin in Puy-en-Velay. During the French Wars of Religion, the town was attacked many times and built therefore fortifications. There are several hypotheses about the origin of Annonay: the name of the town may come from Annoniacum or domain of Annonius, a rich Roman who lived there.
As regards economy, commerce has been the main source of income since ages. Several inventions were done in Annonay. The paper factory was implanted in the town during the 18th century by the Montgolfier brothers, who invented the hot-air balloon in 1782. Marc Seguin built the first suspension bridge and created the tubular boiler which was part of the locomotive of the first French railway line between Saint Etienne and Lyon.
As far as property prices are concerned, the Ardeche department still offers reasonable prices. It is below the national average in 2009: €1,818 / square metre against €3,197 / square metre. In May 2009, it cost about €2,000 / square metre to buy a property in Annonay. Housing prices have decreased a lot since 2007: the average price per square metre for a property to buy was €2,470 in August 2007. Renting a property in Annonay costs about €7.5 / square metre / month. This price is very low compared with the French average of €12.22 / sq m / month. There are great opportunities on the rental market. More than 63% of the properties are apartments and 57% of the inhabitants are tenants.
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Historical heritage: plenty of historical monuments are displayed in the town. Amongst others: the door of the ancient castle (12th century), Valgeras bridge (14th century), martyrs’ tower (vestige of the fortifications - 12th c.), Sainte Marie convent and Saint Claire chapel (vestiges of an abbaye built during the 14th c.). The museum César Filhol recalls the historical past of the town. The Paper and Montgolfier Museums are also worth visiting.
Street markets: Annonay is home to numerous street markets which attract many people. The Place de la Liberté and Place de la Libération spring to life on Wednesdays and Saturdays which are market days. The atmosphere is full of colour on these markets where you can buy fruits, vegetables, local produce (gingerbread, jams, honey, etc.), cheese, cooked meats, but also clothes, hardware and so on. A flea market takes place the second Sunday of each month and lasts the whole day.
Events: life in Annonay is far from being annoying! Events and festivals are held all year round and allow locals to celebrate the history and traditions of their town. An international film festival in February, la fête de la Montgolfière (air-balloon celebration) in June, Les Gourmandises d'Ardèche et du Haut-Vivarais (exhibition with local food) in November and the French championship of air-balloon are some of the events you can attend when visiting Annonay.
Economy: the town was famous for its paper production and leather industries during the Middle Ages. Nowadays, industries are varied in the area: from mechanical engineering to textile, going through carriage works and pharmaceutical products. The tertiary sector is more and more important, as well as high technologies and tourism. Given its activities and quality of life, it is worth investing in Annonay, either for a main home or for a let.
Location: as said before, the town has a very good location within the Rhone Alpes region. Only situated 15min by car from the north-south axis motorway A7, Annonay is close to the main cities of the area: Lyon - 1h, Saint-Etienne - 45min, Grenoble - 1h30, Valence - 45min.
Town houses: close to all amenities, town houses have small-to-large dimensions. They may come with a garden, garage and cellar. They can be single or two-storey properties. They are perfect for a first investment and for families or young couples.
Villas: you can find properties of very large dimensions in the area around Annonay. Villas have often painted walls (in light colours such as write, ochre or yellow). Surrounded with a large piece of land, they come most of the time with a swimming pool and outbuildings. They are great properties if you are looking for a second home.
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