House-hunting out of season

Autumn in the Foothills – Betchat, Ariège

Traditionally late November is the start of the low-season in the property world; summer and autumn house hunters have usually found the home of their dreams or, if not, have decided to wait and try again in the New Year and somehow our thoughts turn to hibernation and home comforts rather than new horizons and starting over.

In this part of France however, late autumn and winter is a beautiful time of year with lots of sunshine during the day, followed by chilly evenings that provide the perfect excuse for hot chocolate in front of the fire. It is also an ideal time of the year to visit the region and discover it laid bare; no roses around the door, wisteria over the pergola and shimmering swimming pools to distract from the actual property and your list of must-have criteria which can all go out of the window on a perfect summer’s day.

The lovely thing about this area is that there are many thriving, all-year-round communities unlike so many places in France which literally shut up shop in the winter months. Before arriving here, we spent a winter living in an area that went into complete hibernation from November–March; every house was shuttered and abandoned, every restaurant closed and the few locals who remained barely ventured out. Hence it was a relief to find a region that does not rely just on summer trade and tourists, where people actually live and work all year long. Here of course we are only an hour from numerous ski resorts which means that the winter ski season is about to begin (it is beautiful weather down here but I am looking at fresh snow on the mountains). We are also only an hour from Toulouse which, like any city, has something going on at all times of year and whatever the weather.

The property market has been very busy here since the Spring and there are still a great selection of properties for sale at all budget levels, as well as some good deals to be had with sellers keen to accept an offer before Christmas so that they can move on in the New Year.

Finally, here is a list of the Top 20 property blogs which I discovered quite by accident – and as I am on the list (albeit at the very bottom!) I thought it would be a shame not to pass it on:



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