Roanne is one of the ‘subprefecture’ of the Loire department. It is located about one hour from Saint-Etienne, a little bit more from Lyon, at the crossroad between the Rhône-Alpes, Auvergne and Bourgogne regions. The Loire River flows through the town, as well as the Rhin, Renaison and Oudan Rivers. Roanne accounts for 26,126 inhabitants: the Roannais.
The town has a great setting with many gardens, rivers and peaceful areas. The plain of Roannais is situated in the northern part of the Loire department, at the junction of the Lyonnais, Beaujolais and Forez monts. A stroll in the old part of the town will let you discovering the historical squares to the pedestrian streets, going through the covered market place, passing in front of the Italian theatre and the keep of the castle.
Art is essential in Roanne. The town received the label ‘ville et metiers d’art’ (Arts and Crafts City label), which groups together a selection of 64 towns and villages for which excellence and authenticity are top priorities. Roanne is besides home to the ‘maison des metiers d’art’, a place where craftsmen work on materials such as wood, glass or steel. The beautiful port and numerous bridges over the Loire River are not to be missed neither when visiting Roanne. After being an important commercial port, it switched to a marina which is nowadays worldwide renowned. In 2002, more than 300 boats from all Europe stopped in the town. The town has a thriving economy with amongst others the hosiery business, weaving and textile industries.
With an average price of €1,415 / square metre in 2009, Roanne’s property market is really affordable (the national average being €3,197/sq m). Apartments are really cheap as prices were comprised between €900/sq m and €1,320/sq m in 2008. As regards new apartments in Roanne’s surroundings, they are dearer than old ones with an average price of €2,530 / sq m in 2008. A 3-room property costs about €96,000, 5 and 6-room ones cost respectively €156,600 and €181,000.
The rental market is quite interesting is the town with almost 62% of the inhabitants being tenants. Given the important part of students in the town, many properties in Roanne are apartments (76%). This town is a good location if you are looking for a buy-to-let or a second home.
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Culture and art: visiting the ‘maison des metiers d’art’ is a must, as well as the musée Déchelette which has wonderful collections of fine arts on offer with amidst others very interesting temporary exhibitions. The castle is a great piece of architecture which is worth seeing. Its donjon dates back to the 12th century and was built with pebbles from the Loire River. This monument is classified by UNESCO and houses today the tourism office.
Activities: the area has plenty of activities on offer. The lakes near Saint-Etienne and Roanne allow the practise of water sports or boating for instance. In the small but great ski resorts of the Pliat and Forez monts, people ski in winter and practise mountain bike in summer. The spa at Montrond-les-Bains is perfect for a more relaxing time.
Access to the town: Roanne is easily accessible from major French cities such as Paris with the motorway A77, Lyon with the A89, Saint-Etienne with the A72 or Clermont-Ferrand with the A89. For those who prefer to use to train, the train station provides regular trains to the latter. The traffic between the town and Lyon is very important with 1,476,557 travellers in 2008 on the journey Lyon-Roanne. Flying is another possibility with Roanne-Renaison airport which has been renovated recently. Three major airports are also located close to Roanne: international airport Lyon-Saint Exupéry, Saint-Etienne-Bouthéon airport and Clermont-Ferrand Auvergne airport.
Return on investment: some buildings of the universities of Saint-Etienne and Lyon are present in Roanne, which is also home to a university. Therefore, many students live in the town for the college year and rentals are very sought-after. Buying a property in Roanne, especially in an apartment or studio flat, ensures prospective buyers to have a good return on investment.
Wine: wine-growing is very important in the area around Roanne - known as the Roannais. Indeed, vineyards have been producing good wines since the Middle Ages. The Loire River allowed a quick development of this activity with many boats which could dispatch the wines to Paris. Since 1994, wines of the Côte Roannaise have the AOC label. These wines are light and fruity and accompany perfectly cooked meats and local recipes.
Stone properties: be a farmhouse or a just a barn, you will find many stone properties in Roanne and its surroundings. Of large dimensions, these properties are full of authenticity. They come with a large piece of land on which you have the possibility to park your car and/or do a garden, even a kitchen garden if you like doing some gardening. Sometimes in need of renovation, stone properties are most of the time located in the countryside, in very quiet areas.
Maisons de Maitre: surrounded by a very large piece of land which may be composed of forests and rivers, maisons de Maitre are luxury properties. Dating back to the 19th century, they have impressive dimensions and can sometimes be compared to small castles! Apart from the numerous rooms, the garden is the greatest asset of such properties.
Town houses: detached or not, town houses can have small-to-large dimensions. They may come with a garden, a terrace and/or a garage. Close to all amenities, they are perfect for families or young couples. The materials in which they are built may vary, from cement to bricks going through local materials.
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