Many people thinking about relocating to South West France will automatically head towards the Dordogne but more and more are realising that it’s neighbouring department the Lot & Garonne is the up and coming region where you can still find great property for reasonable prices.
In fact if you live in the north of the department in the areas around the bastide town of Duras you are only about 10 minutes away from Eymet in Dordogne and 10 minutes from the lovely bastide of Monségur in Gironde.
If you are looking to visit, invest or relocate to the South West but are undecided if you really want to be far away from everything, this area could be the perfect answer to your question.
Marmande boasts everything you could need from a large town including a sous-prefecture and a 37 minute rail link to Bordeaux. Now with the high speed train link to Paris you can be in the capital in under 4 hours.The proximity to Bordeaux means a day out in the city can give those still in need of a dose of retail therapy or culture a break from the rural life. It takes under 2 hours to get to the beautiful Atlantic coast at Arcachon, Cap Ferret, the Dune de Pyla or Biscarosse or further down the cost is Biarritz and in 3h30 minutes you could be enjoying sangria in San Sebastien in Spain.
As well as the rail network you also have the choice of flights from either Bordeaux or Bergerac airports. Bordeaux with all its international flights is 1h15 away and Bergerac with its many low cost flights to the UK and Holland is only 35 minutes from Duras.
All this gives you the possibility of living the French dream whilst still having the opportunity to taste big city life if you want to.
The local communities are very welcoming to their foreign residents and an eclectic mix of Brits, Americans, Germans, Dutch, Belgians and many other nationalities of all ages have made their home here mixing in well with the French population.
In the small village of Allemans du Dropt there is a non stop calendar of events; the bridge club meets in the local bar twice a week, a curry bus parks outside the bar on a Saturday evening and partners with the owners who are more than happy to provide the drinks or you can just pop over for a take away. Live music events and street parties bring in people from all around the surrounding area and form a real sense of community. Many of the local villages and towns have similar all year round activities and many people find that their social life has taken a dramatic upturn since their move here.
The months of July and August are buzzing with the local night markets and you can be out every night of the week but contrary to many places in rural France things do not come to a stop outside of high season, the year long calendar of events will make sure that you never get bored.
The relaxed, convivial and simple lifestyle is of course amplified by the climate which lends itself to being outdoors, in fact 20°C in December is a common occurence.
The area is renowned for fresh seasonal local produce especially prunes and tomatoes and there is also a thriving wine industry. The “Côtes de Duras” and “Côtes de Marmande” may not have the prestige of certain Bordeaux wines but are certainly very drinkable and if you prefer a St Emilion, well it’s only 40 minutes up the road.
For lovers of sport and leisure activities there are ample opportunities to enjoy the outdoor lifestyle. Biking, hiking and walking trails in the area are well documented and canoeing and kayaking, whether on the Dordogne river itself or on one of its many tributaries, are all within easy reach. A leisurely boat ride on the Canal de la Garonne can be done as a day trip or you can hire a boat for longer to explore the region or for those that appreciate taking the waters in a more leisurely manner the Spa at Casteljaloux makes for a great treat.
The north of the Lot & Garonne with its sunflowers, vineyards, rolling hills and rivers is a hidden jewel in the Nouvelle Aquitaine region and well worth getting to know