Rolling hills laden with vines…medieval stone villages where locals sit on café terraces by winding cobbled streets…a Mediterranean climate of warm, sunny days… You’d be forgiven for thinking you were in Provence.
But this is somewhere, in my opinion, altogether more special. This is the Languedoc.
As the new year rolls in I’ll be sending team members back to Europe.
France is big with lots to offer but any scouting trip there will have to include the Languedoc…
My team are already researching the trip and have found some stunning looking properties from just $50,000. Details on those in just a moment.
First, let me tell you about this part of France…
The Languedoc offers views to match anything in its more famous neighboring region of Provence.
Once known as the “poor man’s Provence” the Languedoc region of southern France is a place where I see a lot of potential.
On my last trip there I found historic village homes with the potential to pay for themselves and throw off handsome gross yields of 6% renting short-term in the summer months. That leaves you the rest of the year to enjoy this beautiful part of France at your leisure.
Languedoc-Roussillon essentially covers the area of southern France where the Occitane language was once the common tongue. It’s just west of Provence, stretching all the way to the Spanish border where you’ll find Roussillon—French Catalonia—sandwiched alongside the Pyrenees Mountains.
The sun-drenched coastal part of Languedoc-Roussillon offers Mediterranean beaches and colorful resort towns like Coliere. It’s also where you’ll find most of the big towns and cities—like Perpignan and Montpellier.
Montpellier is among the most attractive and exciting cities I have ever visited. It gets 300 days of sunshine a year and offers the strolling visitor a mostly pedestrian old town of winding lanes amid Renaissance-era mansions. You’ll find avant garde architecture too, art galleries, museums, superb nightlife and dining, the city even has its own arc de triomphe.
As you move inland from the sea, the sun-drenched coastal plain gives way to rolling, forested hills and jagged mountains. No other part of France I know of is so varied. In fact, the micro-climates you’ll find in the Languedoc can pose a challenge to the real estate buyer. A short drive from one village to another can mean a difference of a few degrees in temperature.
The Languedoc is a well-connected region with six airports connecting to destinations across Europe and North Africa.
Then there’s the wine…
The Languedoc sports the oldest planted vineyards in the country—dating back to the 4th century BC when ancient Greeks, and then later the Romans, cultivated the soil for their wine.
As a wine-producing region, the Languedoc has some serious chops. It is the largest producer of organic and rosé wines in the country, leaving Provence in the dust for sheer volume in these categories.
Historically, the majority of wine made here was lower quality intended for the masses of mine and mill workers, partly why the region earned the questionable title of “poor man’s Provence.” But since 1975, there has been a shift in priorities and now the vineyards here offer wines to rival anything else in the country, and boutique vineyard experiences for the tourists that are slowly starting to discover the place.
Another reason for the “poor man’s” moniker for the Languedoc is that it is simply much cheaper here than in over-touristed and over-priced Provence.
You get the same romantic French feel, with fairy-tale castles perched on rugged mountain peaks and medieval villages where the food is amazing and the wine is local, but you’ll pay much less for the privilege.
My contact on the ground there tells me that the pandemic has driven French buyers from larger towns to look for homes in the Languedoc countryside and in its small villages.
But what’s very interesting here is what I’m calling the “Brexit effect.”
British buyers discovered the charms and value of this part of France a long time ago. The market soared from 2003 to 2006. Buyers flooded in. It was a five-minute conversation with a bank manager in London and your home was re-mortgaged to get you your French idyll. Many embarked on extensive renovations thus creating many of the very high quality resale properties we have today.
But now Brexit is beginning to change things. Less Brits are buying, and more are selling up. Thousands of expats who lived in France for years failed to apply for residency before the deadline and are now limited to only spending 90 out of every 180-day period in France (or anywhere in the EU).
I like expat-owned properties in particular because many of these owners embarked on extensive renovations, thus creating many of the very high-quality resale properties we have today.
The Brexit effect is creating an interesting buying moment in France right now, and I see the Languedoc as a region ripe for harvest as a result.
That’s why I’m gearing up to send my intrepid real estate scouts there as part of 2022’s Mission France.
My guys will put boots on the ground in France early in the year and scour the country for the best real estate deals and property plays—sniffing out opportunities that you’d never find without being there, pounding the pavement.
In the Languedoc, the best play is to look for what’s called “a house of character,” a historic home. These appeal to both foreign and French vacationers coming for heritage and wine tourism and I recommend focusing on the villages along the coast and closest to the sun belt ensuring you get the best of the weather year round. As you get into the highland regions the climate is cooler and wetter and the season shorter.
Avoid houses in need of renovation. You won’t see any additional return for the additional costs you incur doing the work—and they could be hefty. Keep your buying costs as low as possible to maximize your return. In this market there are plenty of turn-key renovated properties available.
Many foreigners—including plenty of those British expats that now have to return home thanks to Brexit—arrived in the Languedoc, fell in love with a historic home, and paid handsomely for impressive renovations that will never be reflected in the price when they sell. You need just swoop in and enjoy the fruits of their labor and bank account.
Here are a few promising examples of what awaits in the Languedoc, unearthed by my scouts in their initial preparations for the in-depth exploration that will be Mission France.
In a pretty little hamlet known for its wine, there is a charming three-bed pied-à-terre on the 2nd floor of a stone house listed for just €50,000 ($56,331). It could do with a lick of paint (and in my opinion definitely some different wallpaper), but there is no obvious need of renovation—which is something at this price point.
Heading out into the countryside a bit, and taking a step or two up the price ladder, there is a characterful stone house about 10 minutes from the town of Saint-Pons de Thomières currently listing for €132,000 ($148,715). It’s a rambling affair, typical of France, with three bedrooms, a dining room with open kitchen, a lounge, a washroom and an attic as well as terraces overlooking the countryside.
For something a bit more ambitious, there is a historic 18th-century stone house, a former B&B complete with covered terrace and pool located in the Minervois winegrowers’ hamlet for €454,750 ($512,334). With two main bedrooms, a studio and six ensuite bedrooms, it could work as a turnkey B&B or just a lavish vacation home for large families.
Note: These properties were turned up in initial research by my scouts preparing for Mission France next year—I haven’t visited any of them myself, nor have my scouts yet.