The Loire department belongs to the Rhône Alpes region. The name of the area comes from the eponymous river which passes through it. Loire was created in 1793 when the original department of Rhône-et-Loire was split. It is surrounded with the following departments: Rhône, Isère, Ardèche, Haute-Loire, Puy-de-Dôme, Allier and Saône-et-Loire. The capital of the department is Saint-Etienne, Montbrison and Roanne being the other main towns of the area. The central part of the department is the former French province of Forez. The Loire department accounts for 728,524 inhabitants called the Ligériens.
Loire is split into three arrondissements: Saint-Etienne, Montbrison and Roanne ones. Not to be mixed up with the Loire Valley, the Loire department is also home to wonderful castles. The château de la Bastie d'Urfé and château de Chalmazel, amongst others, are worth visiting.
The Loire department is full of varied treasures. In the north, the Roannais area is renowned for producing textile as well as offering good food. Saint-Etienne and its surroundings (south-west) have both lakes and beaches and wooded mountains on offer. Whether you prefer leisure or sporting activities, you will always find a way to discover the Stéphanois. Located south-east of the department, the Pilat seduces nature lovers: 65,000 hectares of forests, pastures in plains, orchards and vineyards. The major western part of Loire - the Forez - is also composed of many forests and plateaus. The wonderful Forez’s mountains are a real haven of peace from which you can admire an outstanding view over the region.
From the Forez highlands at the foothills of the Massif Central to the Roannais hillsides on the outskirts of Burgundy, the Loire department boasts many assets. The department is a land of tradition which has preserved the historical heritage of its rich industrial past. In other words, Loire is a lovely area with a great heritage waiting to be discovered as well as an unspoiled nature. Many prospective buyers are attracted by this beautiful and authentic area. There are countless ways to discover the charming Loire department.
With an average price of €1,719 / square metre in 2009, the Loire department has an affordable property market. Indeed, the neighbouring departments have higher prices in terms of dwellings: the average property price of Isère is €2,688/sq m and in Rhône it is €2,804/sq m in 2009. But the Rhône Alpes region is still under the national average which is €3,197 / square metre.
Buying an apartment in Loire cost about €1,360/sq m in 2008. Prices vary according to the locations. Saint-Etienne remains the most expensive town of the area. As regards new apartments, the price is about €2,550 / square metre. If you plan to invest in a house in the department, you will spend between €111,000 and €207,000 (estimation), depending of course on the type of house and location. With 47% of the properties being apartments and almost 42% of the population renting their house, there are many rental opportunities in the area.
To get updated info about property prices in Loire, please browse our French Property Market Reports published in the News Section every month.
Click here to learn more about Rhone Alpes’ Property Prices.
Historical heritage: whether it be religious monuments or traces of ancient industries, the Loire department boasts a fascinating historical heritage. The abbeys of La Bénisson-Dieu (Cistercian monastery) and Charlieu (Benedictine abbey) are for example worth seeing. The church called La Grand’Eglise located in the historical centre of Saint-Etienne is listed as an historical monument, as well as the puits des Combes in La Ricamarie. The latter is the one of the rare ‘witnesses’ of the coal extraction of the Loire area. Indeed, the coal basin of the department was the first French one to be mined...
Castles: the department has an abundance of castles. Even if some of them are now private properties, you can still visit the château de la Bastie d'Urfé for instance. Many shows are held there in summer in the frameworks of the Nuits de la Bâtie d’Urfé. The château de Chalmazel is listed by UNESCO as an historical monument. If you love admiring castles, we suggest you to do an itinerary and travel throughout the department. They are just amazing ! The château de Bonson, château de Couzan, château d'Essalois and château de Matel are other jewels not to miss amongst the very long list of castles in Loire.
Culture: plenty of museums can be found in the Loire department. These places recall the long and rich history of the area. Amidst others, there are the Archaeology Museum in Feurs, Allard Museum in Montbrison, Petanque Museum in Saint-Bonnet-le-Chateau, Modern Art Museum in Saint-Etienne and Silk Museum in Charlieu.
Tranquillity and scenery: the main asset of the region is to be a perfect place for relaxing and enjoying tranquillity. Spending time in the area is a good opportunity to forget the stressed daily life and rest. The numerous paths give access to the peaks of hills and mountains. Valleys and hills covered with fir and spruce trees, springs, gorges, lakes and rivers…you can’t help loving this area!
Activities: skiing, climbing, paragliding and fishing are just a few examples of activities that the area has on offer. The numerous lakes of the region are great for water sports. The 4,000km of marked routes allow holidaymakers to discover the region: 800km of pedestrian paths in Pilat regional nature park, 650km of mountain bikes routes, 450km of bridle paths, etc.
Apartments: the Loire department has an abundance of apartments on offer. The proportion of rental properties is pretty high and many people live in apartments in the area. Whether small or large, 5-room apartments or studio flats, these properties are always close to all amenities. Sometimes they belong to housing estate which offer facilities such as parking, garage, intercom and automatic gate. Apartments are definitely the best kind of properties to invest in for lets.
Detached houses: located in the town centre (in this case, they can be semi-detached or even attached) or in the countryside, these houses have several rooms on offer. They can be built in different materials (bricks, slates, etc.). They come with a garden, a garage and even a cellar. Detached houses are great properties for families or young couples.
Click here for more info about Architecture in Rhone Alpes.
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