Dreaming of a rural escape in the heart of France? The country’s picturesque landscapes offer a treasure trove of idyllic rural locations where you can not only find tranquility but also make a wise property investment. For expats yearning for a slower pace of life and a charming countryside home, these top five rural locations in France promise a perfect blend of tourism, activities and cost-effective living.
Table of contents
Brittany, located in the northwest of France, is a region renowned for its diverse landscapes, rich cultural heritage, and a captivating blend of coastal allure and countryside serenity. From dramatic coastlines to medieval towns, Brittany offers a unique and charming setting for those seeking a home in rural France.
Tourism and activities: The coastal beauty of Brittany is a major draw. Expansive sandy beaches, rugged cliffs, and picturesque harbours invite residents to explore maritime activities and enjoy the fresh sea air. Medieval towns like Dinan and Vannes provide a glimpse into Brittany’s historical charm, with cobbled streets and half-timbered houses. Celtic traditions are celebrated through festivals, music, and art, adding a distinctive cultural dimension to life in Brittany.
Visit the Office du Tourisme website to find out more about what to do and what to see in Brittany. Click here to access the website.
Cost of living: Brittany presents a more affordable option compared to some of the more exclusive coastal regions in France. The region strikes a balance, offering an accessible cost of living without compromising on the quality of life. This makes Brittany an appealing choice for those seeking a coastal lifestyle without the premium price tag.
Cost of properties: Breton cottages are a hallmark of the region’s real estate landscape. These charming homes often feature distinctive architecture with elements like exposed beams, stone walls, and colourful shutters. Coastal properties, including seaside cottages and villas, provide stunning views and easy access to the region’s pristine beaches. The variety of housing options in Brittany caters to different preferences, ensuring there’s a perfect home for every expat. As of 2023, the average property price in Brittany stands at 2,745 € per square meter.
Interested in learning more about Brittany? Download our FREE guide to the region today.
Nestled in the southeastern corner of France, Provence-Alpes-Côte d’Azur (PACA) is a captivating region celebrated for its sun-soaked landscapes and timeless charm. Encompassing the Mediterranean coast, the Alps and the idyllic countryside, PACA offers a diverse range of experiences for those seeking a rural escape.
Tourism and activities: Provence’s allure lies in its picturesque vineyards, vibrant lavender fields, and enchanting historic villages. The Luberon, a mountainous massif, invites exploration with its medieval hilltop villages like Gordes and Roussillon. Indulge in the region’s rich cultural tapestry by visiting the Roman amphitheaters in Orange or strolling through the vibrant markets of Aix-en-Provence. Culinary enthusiasts can revel in the Mediterranean cuisine, with local markets offering fresh produce and delightful Provençal specialities.
Visit the Office du Tourisme website to find out more about what to do and what to see in PACA. Click here to access the website.
Cost of living: Provence-Alpes-Côte d’Azur strikes a balance between the sophistication of the Côte d’Azur and the rustic charm of its countryside, resulting in a moderate cost of living. Residents can savour the exquisite local wines, indulge in regional delicacies, and enjoy the Mediterranean lifestyle without breaking the bank.
Cost of properties: Property options in Provence vary from quaint stone cottages to luxurious country estates. The region offers a mix of real estate opportunities to suit different preference and budgets. While the coastal areas may feature higher-end properties, the countryside presents charming and more affordable options for those looking to embrace the Provençal lifestyle. As of 2023, the average property price in Provence-Alpes-Côte d’Azur stands at 4,253 € per square meter.
Provençal properties: Charming stone cottages adorned with vibrant shutters epitomise the rustic elegance of Provence. Lavender fields often surround renovated farmhouses, providing a quintessential Provençal experience. For those seeking a touch of luxury, country estates with sprawling vineyards and panoramic views of the Mediterranean landscape are also part of the region’s real estate charm. Whether it’s a historic village dwelling or a countryside retreat, Provence’s properties encapsulate the essence of French rural living.
Dordogne, located in southwestern France, is a region steeped in history and renowned for its medieval towns, sprawling landscapes, and gastronomic delights. This area, often referred to as Périgord, beckons with its captivating blend of cultural richness and natural beauty.
Tourism and activities: Dordogne is a treasure trove of medieval wonders, with towns like Sarlat-la-Canéda boasting well-preserved architecture and charming cobblestone streets. The region’s picturesque landscape are dotted with castles, limestone cliffs, and the winding Dordogne river. Culinary enthusiasts can indulge in the local fare, exploring traditional markets, savouring truffles, and enjoying the famed foie gras. Outdoor activities abound, from canoeing on the river to hiking through the lush countryside.
Visit the Office du Tourisme website to find out more about what to do and what to see in Dordogne. Click here to access the website.
Cost of living: One of Dordogne’s compelling aspects is its affordability. The cost of living in this region is relatively moderate, allowing residents to enjoy the exquisite local cuisine, fine wines, and the vibrant cultural scene without straining their budget.
Cost of properties: Dordogne offers an array of charming farmhouses, manors, and historic properties. The real estate market in this region provides an opportunity for buyers to acquire character-filled homes at a reasonable cost. Whether it’s a stone farmhouse surrounded by vineyards or a renovated manor with views of the Dordogne river, the properties in this region capture the essence of French countryside living. As of 2023, the average price in Dordogne stands at 1,581 € per square meter.
Typical type of properties in Dordogne: Charming farmhouses with honey-coloured stone, rustic features, and sprawling gardens are quintessential to Dordogne’s architectural landscape. Manors with ivy-clad facades and historic elements provide a touch of grandeur amidst the rural tranquility. The properties in Dordogne seamlessly blend historic charm with modern comfort, creating an inviting haven for those seeking a peaceful retreat in the heart of France.
Nestled in the heart of France, Auvergne is a region celebrated for its unspoiled natural beauty, characterised by volcanic landscapes, rolling hills, and charming villages. For those seeking a tranquil escape surrounded by nature, Auvergne holds the key to a serene countryside lifestyle.
Tourism and activities: Auvergne is a paradise for outdoor enthusiasts. The region is home to the Massif Central, a mountainous area with extinct volcanoes, providing a stunning backdrop for hiking, cycling, and nature walks. The Puy de Dôme, one of the region’s iconic volcanoes, offers panoramic views of the countryside. Picturesque villages like Salers and Besse-en-Chandesse invite exploration, showcasing medieval architecture and a rich cultural heritage.
Visit the Office du Tourisme website to find out more about what to do and what to see in Auvergne. Click here to access the website.
Cost of living: One of Auvergne’s appealing aspects is its notably lower cost of living. Residents can enjoy the simplicity and beauty of rural life without sacrificing financial comfort. This makes Auvergne an attractive option for those looking to escape the hustle and bustle while maintaining a modest budget.
Cost of properties: The real estate landscape in Auvergne is characterised by rustic farmhouses and traditional stone cottages. These properties, often surrounded by expansive landscapes, offer a genuine countryside experience. Whether it’s a renovated barn with modern amenities or a charming cottage nestles in the hills, Auvergne provides a variety of housing options for those looking to make a home amid nature’s embrace. As of 2023, the average property price in Dordogne stands at 1,595 € per square meter.
Typical Auvergnian properties: Auvergne’s properties echo the region’s natural charm. Rustic farmhouses with stone facades and exposed beams capture the essence of traditional French country living. Traditional stone cottages, often adorned with climbing vines and flower-filled gardens, offer a quaint and idyllic retreat. Properties in Auvergne seamlessly blend into the picturesque landscapes, creating a harmonious connection between the home and its natural surroundings.
Nestled in the southern part of France, Occitanie is a region characterised by its diverse landscapes, ranging from the majestic Pyrenees mountains to the sun-kissed shores of the Mediterranean. This region’s allure lies in its rich history, thriving vineyards, and a welcoming atmosphere that makes it an ideal choice for expats seeking a rural escape.
Tourism and activities: Occitanie invites residents to explore its varied landscapes. From hiking in the Pyrenees to relaxing on Mediterranean beaches, the region offers a plethora of outdoor activities. Lovers of wine will find themselves in a vinicultural paradise, particularly in Languedoc, where vineyards dot the countryside. Historic sites, such as Carcassonnes’s medieval fortress, add cultural richness to the region.
Visit the Office du Tourisme website to find out more about what to do and what to see in Occitanie. Click here to access the website.
Cost of living: Occitanie maintains a reasonable cost of living, allowing residents to enjoy the finer aspects of French life without breaking the bank. The region strikes a balance between affordability and a high quality of life, making it an attractive prospect for those seeking a rural haven in France.
Cost of properties: The real estate landscape in Occitanie is diverse, offering expats a range of options. Historic village houses exude charm and often come with architectural features unique to the region. Renovated farm properties showcase the pastoral beauty of Occitanie, providing spacious living surrounded by the stunning landscapes that define this part of France. Whether it’s a quaint village abode or a renovated farmhouse, Occitanie offers a variety of property styles to suit different tastes. As of 2023, the average property price in Occitanie stands at 2,245 € per square meter.
Interested in learning more about Occitanie? Download our FREE guide to the region today.
Where to buy a property in France: What you need to consider
France’s diverse regions offer a range of lifestyles, landscapes, and cultural experiences, making it crucial to carefully consider your priorities when deciding where to buy a property. Here are key factors to ponder:
Lifestyle preferences: Consider the lifestyle you desire. Coastal regions like Brittany offer maritime charm, while Provence provides a sun-soaked, vineyard-dotted environment. Understanding your lifestyle preference will guide you toward regions that align with your interests.
Budget and cost of living: Different regions come with varying costs of living and property prices. For instance, rural areas like Auvergne might offer more affordable properties compared to bustling cities. Evaluate your budget and prioritise regions that strike a balance between affordability and the lifestyle you seek.
Climate: France’s climate varies significantly across regions. The Mediterranean south enjoys a warm climate, while the north experiences cooler temperatures. Consider your tolerance for different weather conditions and choose a region that aligns with your climate preferences.
Proximity to amenities: Think about your proximity to amenities such as healthcare, schools, and shopping centres. Rural areas may offer tranquility but could be farther from essential services. Urban or suburban locations typically provide easier access to amenities.
Accessibility: Consider the accessibility of the region. Some areas may be well-connected by transportation networks, making it easier to travel within France and beyond. Access to airports, train stations, and major highways can impact your convenience.
Cultural and recreational activities: Evaluate the cultural and recreational activities available in each region. Whether you’re interested in historical sites, outdoor adventures or vibrant city life, different areas cater to various interests. Research the cultural richness and recreational opportunities in potential regions.
Whether you’re captivated by the lavender fields of Provence or the historic charm of Dordogne, France’s rural locations are waiting to be explored. These top five rural locations not only offer a serene escape but also present a golden opportunity for expats to own a slice of France countryside paradise. Embrace the tranquility, savour local flavours, and make one of these rural havens your home away from home.