1st May 2019
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Culture and Calm - Where To Live in Style Within Easy Reach of ParisParis, with its fabulous galleries and restaurants, good schools and chic lifestyle has always been one of Europe’s most desirable locations. The regions surrounding the French capital offer access to all this iconic city has to offer with the added charm of glorious countryside and a relaxed pace.
Paris and Hauts-de-Seine
For those who don’t want to be too far from the action, let’s start with the city itself. Many of the areas in and around Paris have excellent transport links into the city and the added advantage of being on the international schools’ bus routes. Some of the most popular areas with expats, particularly those coming to live here from the UK, are Issy-les-Moulineaux, Meudon, Neuilly-sur-Seine and St Cloud, which is ideally placed for the American School of Paris and the Lycee Corneille. Sevres, with its Lycee International is another popular choice with expats. For more insider advice on where to live in Paris read our article on buying property in Paris.
The Rest of Île-de-France
A little further out, Maisons-Lafitte in the Yvelines department of Île-de-France is a residential haven and a major horse racing centre. This part of France is hugely popular with those who want the bright lights of Paris close by but appreciate having the space for horse-riding, golf, weekend walks and perhaps a larger home with a garden. The Val d’Oise department offers similar benefits to Yvelines along with easy access to Charles de Gaulle Airport.
Still within easy reach of Paris, Hauts-de-France has long been a weekend retreat for Parisians who come here to enjoy the fresh air and natural beauty of the Compiègne Forest and historic fairytale castle such as the fine example at Pierrefonds.
These days city folk and expats alike regard departments like Oise and Somme as home, preferring to make the journey to the city when they need to rather than the other way around. Good internet connectivity and broadband speeds make this a real possibility with many business people now choosing to work from home for part of the week rather than commuting every day.
There are some beautiful properties in these areas, from contemporary architect-designed homes to countryside cottages and barn conversions with pretty views. Amiens, which is the capital of the Somme department, is a desirable location thanks to its pretty canals, plentiful shops and vibrant market which sells produce grown on the city’s floating market gardens. The area is served by Paris-Beauvais Airport, which lies about 80km north of Paris and has year-round flights to most parts of Europe including Dublin, Stockholm, Madrid, Barcelona, Milan and Rome.
Normandy is particularly popular with British expats because of its proximity to Channel ports. The Seine-Maritime department is home to the seaside port of Le Havre as well as the vibrant city of Rouen, making this a good choice for anyone who wants a taste of French life without being too far away from civilisation. Bordering onto Ile-de-France, Normandy has good access to Paris with the added benefit of many miles of sandy beaches and some superb seafood restaurants. Property is very affordable in Normandy compared to other parts of Northern France and there is always a good selection of countryside homes for sale. Wondering where to start your search? Orne, in Southern Normandy, is a favourite with hikers and horse riders whereas Calvados attracts those looking for somewhere to live within easy reach of the coast.
South of Paris and the Ile-de-France lies the picturesque Loire Valley which is famous for many things, most notably castles and wine. This land of kings and queens is just a short journey by train or autoroute from Paris yet retains much of its historic medieval charm. Popular locations include Le Mans ,home of 24 hour motor racing, which is just an hour from Paris by train, the attractive university town of Tours on the banks of the Loire and Angers which is well known for its historic old town.
The local Chinon wine, made from the Cabernet Franc grape, is the perfect accompaniment to this region’s gastronomy which includes Sainte Maure goat cheese, fouée bread and pork rillettes. The entire Loire Valley is a Unesco World Heritage Site with chateaux, fortresses and ancient vineyards at almost every turn. If you fancy owning your own chateau in France the Loire Valley is a good place to start your search.