Déjà Vu (all over again)

So here we are back in lockdown in November. Thank goodness that we didn’t have a crystal ball in March as it turns out because I’m not sure how we would all have dealt with knowing this was on the cards yet again and just as we go into winter this time rather than when the days were lengthening and summer was on the way.

A crystal ball in March would also have shown that the rural French property market was going to have a very busy year, at least between May and October which certainly seemed unlikely in the Spring. It turned out that the challenges of living in urban areas during lockdown convinced many to sell up and move out to the sticks while others were driven by the wish to be more self-sufficient or for a complete lifestyle change. Noticeably, there has particularly been a rise in the number of young families, drawn in by the post-lockdown appeal of space, country air and fewer people.

In this region, there has been a notable rush from buyers looking to buy property within the newest Pyrenees national park; the Parc naturel régional Pyrénées Ariégeoises. Less mountainous than the Hautes Pyrenees and with more gentle valleys and rolling hills, this is a tucked away part of France that even many French people have never heard of. That was until this year when the appeal of protected countryside, off the beaten track, low population density but within striking distance of a major city suddenly became hugely in demand. And there are not many such places.

The Ariège Pyrenees ticks all of these boxes thanks to its proximity to Toulouse and its international airport along with miles and miles of unspoiled, gently wooded countryside given over to pasture and wilderness unlike much of the more intensely agricultural areas of South West France. Along with the desire for open space and flexible property, there seems to be a growing demand for areas with a bias towards the organic and for local producers and products, fresh water, a good climate and independent shops and businesses. The Ariège has all of these in spades.

In addition, with the increase in people working from home combined with a second national lockdown (which we were assured would not happen), many more people may now start dreaming of an escape to the country especially with the threat of a cycle of lockdowns stretching into the foreseeable future. However, property in many national parks is high on the house-hunting list and hence these properties may come at a high price and sellers have begun to use it as an advertising tool, demanding a premium so, yet again, next year might see a serious lack of supply for increasing demand and rising prices in this region.

In the meantime, I have been trying to find some positives in this latest lockdown; I am certainly driving much less and cooking has become more creative when we are only shopping once a week. I may even get to tackle my filing and sort the overflowing piles of papers on my desk. Even update my website (unlikely!) But most importantly, my dog seems very happy to have me at home all day….every cloud…Bon courage with the latest lockdowns wherever you are and, if you would like help in finding a property in this beautiful part of France, please get in touch: nadia@foothillsoffrance.com

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