Bagnères de Luchon makes top 10 of best places to live in France

In the latest ‘Ville de Reve’ (dream town) survey of the almost 40,000 towns and communes across France, the small town of Bagnères de Luchon, here in the foothills of the Pyrenees, came 10th (out of 34,900 towns surveyed). Pretty impressive for a town of just 2,220 inhabitants.

This is, of course, great news for the town but I think it is also indicative of the generally high quality of life that exists in this region (probably not always appreciated by the locals but definitely appreciated by those of us not born and bred locally!)

Bagnères de Luchon is an ancient, elegant spa town and ski resort with grand houses and hotels testifying to its illustrious past when the who’s who of Europe descended to take the waters including Flaubert, Bismarck and Mata Hari. The spa was built in 1848 on the site of the old Roman baths. Today the waters are reputed to help rheumatism and ear, nose and throat problems. In spring, summer and autumn health seekers and holiday makers come to Luchon for the waters, the climate and mountains as well as all the facilities on offer in the town. In the winter it is the turn of the skiers and winter sports fans. Other activities available in the area include cycling (the Tour de France passes through most years), paragliding, walking, golf, canoeing, pony trekking and fishing.

The busy, tree-lined, main boulevard Allées d’Etigny, has rows of restaurants and cafés, boulangèries and chocolateries with the accompanying enticing aromas of coffee, wine and food. The town is full of flowers, fountains and gardens and well equipped with shops. Luchon also produces 30 million bottles per year of its own mineral water which has been classified since 1990 and is said to be particularly therapeutic and refreshing.

This is all surrounded by some of France’s prettiest scenery and soaring snowy peaks making one of the most dramatic backdrops you could hope to find. Plus, of course, Spain is only 10 km over the hill. The people here are also some of the friendliest I have met in the whole region.

So, it is hardly surprising that Bagnères de Luchon always comes high on the best place to live lists, ticking the boxes as it does for easy access to beautiful countryside, good accessibility by public transport (a new trainline is currently under construction which will improve this score yet further) and a great community. Moreover, all amenities are within walking distance, there are excellent sporting facilities on the doorstep, it is both dynamic and safe with excellent schooling and healthcare and a very high overall score for quality of life.

Luchon and the surrounding villages and countryside are some of my favourite search areas. Well known and loved by the French, Luchon is yet to be discovered by many other nationalities but that is beginning to change, and property prices have certainly started to rise over the last decade. However, property here is still very good value, both for country houses and for townhouses or central apartments, perfect for a permanent home or a holiday house or, equally, a rental investment for winter and summer tourists.

You can see the results of the survey (in French) here:

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