Privas is the prefecture of the Ardèche department, in the Rhône Alpes region. With its 8,692 inhabitants - called the Privadois - the town is the smallest French prefecture. Along with 15 other towns and villages, Privas belongs to the communauté de communes Privas Rhône et Vallées. This community of communes is the second most important of the Ardèche department. It aims at economical, tourist and environmental development as well as town planning.
Located at the foothill of the Coiron plateau, in the Ouvèze valley, Privas has a good location as it is situated only 40min by car from Valence ( Drôme’s prefecture) and close to the Rhône River. Three rivers flow through the town: the Mezayon, Ouvèze and Charalon Rivers. Wonderful gorges and steep hills are parts of the landscape of this area full of character. Furthemore, Privas is very close to the Parc Naturel Régional des Monts d'Ardèche, a nature park which offers varied activities: hiking, canyoning, rock climbing, etc.
Privas has a long and interesting history. Indeed, the town played an important role during the French Wars of Religion. It was a Protestant stronghold, but was then pillaged and burned. Many monuments are proofs of the rich history of the town: the Tour Diane de Poitiers, Pont Louis XIII, Couvent des Récollets, etc.
The town is the capital of the famous marrons glacés (candied chestnuts) and crème de marrons (chestnut cream). Indeed, the area is famous for being a major French chestnut producer. Tourism is also important in Privas and its surroundings, being another source of income after the chestnut production.
In comparison with other departments of the Rhône-Alpes region and the rest of France, the Ardèche department offers a good property market. The average price in 2009 is €1,818/square metre, against €3,197/sq m for the national average. Privas also boasts properties at affordable prices. In 2008, it cost about €1,350/sq m to buy an apartment in the surroundings of the town. Prices for a property to buy in the area have decreased since July 2008: from an average price of €2,250/sq m, housing prices fell down to €2,060 in December 2008.
As regards rentals, there are great opportunities in Privas. Indeed, 62% of the dwellings are apartments and 52% of the inhabitants are tenants. Given its remarkable quality of life, nice setting, varied facilities and tranquility, the prefecture of Ardeche is a lovely place to settle in.
To get updated info about the property prices in Ardèche, please browse our French Property Market Reports published in the News Section every month.
Click here to have an overview of Rhône Alpes Property Prices.
Historical heritage: the town suffered a lot from the Wars of Religion during the 16th century: pillaged and burned, a few monuments still remain from the past and testify Privas’ history. The bridge of Louis XIII, Diamond Door, tower of Diane de Poitiers, convent of the Récollets brothers and site of Mont-Toulon are not to be missed when discovering the town. If you are interested in religion and history, we suggest you to visit the Musée du Vivarais, a museum about Protestantism located in the town of Pranles where you can relive the history of the Huguenots resistance in the area.
Les marrons de Privas: do taste the local speciality. The marrons glacés (candied chestnuts) and crème de marrons have made the town’s reputation since 1882. Many local recipes use chestnut, it is a real delight!
Tranquility and scenery: Privas is famous for its exceptional surroundings. The town is surrounded by a countryside that has managed to remain natural. In all seasons the climate is moderate and enables both locals and visitors to enjoy life in this quiet area. The regional nature park of Monts d’Ardeche is the perfect place for a pleasant and relaxing stopover.
Events: the town offers its inhabitants a lot of leisure facilities amongst which a theatre, multimedia library, a music school and varied sport facilities. There are cultural activities all the year round in the smallest prefecture of France. The national festival of archaeology has taken place in Privas since 2006. This event offers the possibility for archaeology lovers to meet professionals and discuss with them about different topics during conferences, exhibitions, etc. Every year, from mid-October to mid-November, the Castagnades are held in numerous towns and villages of the Ardeche mountains. Chestnuts are honoured during this festival which is a meeting place between locals, visitors, chestnut producers and artists.
Location: Privas is situated at the heart of the Ardeche department. It is located about 40km to the south of Valence and not too far from Lyon, Saint-Etienne and Grenoble. The only drawback of the area is that there is no train station. So the easiest way to reach Privas is by road with a car or by bus.
Town houses: as the name indicates, these properties are located in the town centre. The size of such properties may vary: there are sometimes 5 or 6 room, and in other cases only 2...Town houses are always close to all amenities (supermarket, school, shops, post office, etc.), which is very practical as you don’t need to drive 20km before finding a shop or school. These properties often come with a garden and sometimes a garage and a cave.
Apartments: as said before, 62% of the properties in Privas are apartments. It is not rare to see houses converted in several apartments, usually one on the ground level and one on the first floor. Some apartments are pretty luxury, being large lofts. Apartments also have different dimensions and can be modern or traditional. This kind of properties is ideal for a first purchase or a let.
Click here for more info about the Architecture in Rhône-Alpes.
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