Property in Brittany
Property in Brittany has always been popular with British buyers due to its affordability and accessibility. You can sail with your car to the Brittany ports of St Malo and Roscoff from several English (and Irish) ports, or fly into Rennes, Brest or Nantes airports. Door to door in half a day is easily feasible by plane, within a day by ferry.
In Brittany, they have worked out how to create the most classy and liveable of seaside communities. The kind of places where you can enjoy practicing your French while ordering mouthwatering seafood in a restaurant overlooking a harbour full of the very fishing boats that caught your dinner just a few hours before.
Brittany is the far north-west corner of France, roughly the same size and appearance as England’s West Country, but a few degrees warmer and with considerably nicer food (arguably!).
The modern region of Brittany is made up of four departments; Finistere, Cotes-d’Armor, Ille-et-Vilaine and Morbihan. Culturally and historically the department of Loire-Atlantique is also a part of Brittany.
Brittany has a population of 4.5 million. Significant cities including Rennes and Brest, plus Nantes historically. Brest is mainly modern after heavy damage in the last war, but Rennes is an attractive old university town of around 200,000. Nantes is larger, but equally attractive and historic. From either it is easy to get to Paris in a couple of hours by train and both have thriving property markets.
The region gets its unique character from the sea. In parts rocky and rough, in parts long, wide sandy beaches; none of the coast could be said to be spoiled. Resorts such as Dinard, near St Malo have always been popular with the British, or Erquy, a favourite spot for retirement but, like all these beaches, resorts and villages, packed with families in August. If you enjoy sailing or kayaking, you will love Brittany.
There are long sandy beaches at resorts such as La Baule-Escoublac near Nantes, backed by some of France’s most high-class seaside homes, Morgat in the far west or Binic in the north.
Inland you have a huge choice of homes available from unspoilt medieval towns, such as Paimpont, surrounded by the Forest of Brocéliande, or Rochefort-en-Terre, officially one of France’s plus beaux villages. Many of us come to Brittany for the country properties and to get our little patch of land for a fraction of what you’d pay the other side of the channel. In Brittany it is possible to choose from picture-perfect French cottages for under £100,000, right up to your own chateau for a million or two.
Where to Buy Property in Brittany
The links between the UK and France’s most westerly region, Britanny, are there to see in its name. And the long historical and cultural links continue today making it the sixth most popular place to live in France among the British, some 13,000 of whom live full time there. It’s also a favourite with British holiday makers, tens of thousands of whom sail, drive or fly to Britanny every year to holiday in the region.
Its allure is not hard to understand. Brittany has the same warm climate as the Channel Islands and is much easier to get to than other more southerly regions of France. Ways to get there include the airports at Brest, Nantes and Rennes as well as the regular boat service from Plymouth to Roscoff. By car it’s a five-hour drive from Calais.
British buyers are drawn in by Brittany’s long and winding coast and the myriad ports, villages and beaches that shelter from the Atlantic on it including favourites such as Dinard, Ploumanac’h, Morgat, St Briac-sur-Mer and Quiberon, to name a few. It also offers medieval towns and villages such as Montcour, Becherel, La Gacilly and Josselin.
Brittany is split into five departments which are (working from west to east) Finistère, Cotes d’Armour, Morbihan, Ille et Vilaine and Loire Atlantique. Many of these regions owe their beauty not just to natural features and coastlines, but also the many still largely Medieval towns and villages in the region. Brittany also has a large number of Art Deco homes, but is best known for its pretty ‘maison longere’ which are low, rectangular cottages. Other property types include chaumiere houses, which are thatched, and the region’s eye-catching fisherman’s cottages, both of which are popular with Brits.
You’ll know the name Finistère if you sail. It’s one of the famous Shipping Forecast areas and is the most westerly department of Brittany. It’s also the tourist hub of the region, partly because of its stunning coast but also because it’s where ferry arrivals disembark at Roscoff and where air passengers land, at Brest. Its principal towns and cities include Quimper and the port of Concarneau in the south.
In the north there’s Morlaix and Saint Pol de Leon. In between there’s the huge Parc National Regional de Armorique. But many of the popular Finistère towns among British buyers are near Quimper including the pretty little port of Clohars-Carnoet and the quiet village of Bannalec.
Next to Clohars-Carnoet is the stunning estuary village of Moëlan-sur-Mer. But the town that many make a beeline for is Huelgot just outside the Parc National Regional de Armorique. Away from the coast very substantial homes often with B&B potential can be had starting at €200,000 while coastal properties with sea views can fetch up a little more.
This northerly department of Britanny is said to be the favourite of many Brits. Its English-Channel facing coast is both sometimes ruggedly gorgeous but also offers dozens of secluded inlet and wide public sandy beaches, many of which are found north of Lannion. Cotes d'Armor also harbours a Brit favourite, Dinan, on the river Rance where between €200,000 and €300,000 buys a wide range or properties including maisons longere, medieval townhouses as well as more substantial detached houses outside the town.
Three towns that also merit a mention include the seaside resorts of Perros-Guirec and Plenuef Val Andrew, both of which feature amazing beaches. Inland there are plenty of villages that offer incredible value for money, one example being Plessala where around €250,000 buys large four- and five-bedroom properties.
Travel writers all agree that the Gulf of Morbihan is one of the loveliest stretches of coast in Brittany featuring myriad inlets and secluded beaches all not far from the department’s capital, medieval Vannes, a favourite among both British ex-pats and holiday makers. The department covers most of southern Brittany and includes two other Brit hotspots – Carnac and Quiberon, both of which are to the west of Vannes.
This area, particularly around Vannes, is where upmarket Parisians like to have holiday homes and this shows in the prices. Property here is around 25% more expensive than other parts of Brittany and you’ll need €500,000 or more to buy a substantial detached house, although smaller four-bedroom houses can be had for €300,000, but they’ll be far flung from the coast.
Ille et Villaine
This north-westerly department of Brittany is named after the two rivers that confluence at Rennes, a large city that is both Brittany’s and this department’s capital city. The other big conurbation is St Malo, the main port for ferries arriving from Portsmouth, Poole, Weymouth and Plymouth.
But Ille et Vilaine is less popular with British buyers, partly because it’s got fewer tourist attractions than those further east, and because it doesn’t have much coastline to lure buyers in with. It’s not a bad place to choose if you’re after a rural retreat, nevertheless. The department is large and contains a wide range of prices and property types from €700,000 luxury houses to €50,000 rural cottages.
Officially Loire Atlantique is not part of Brittany and instead is the westerly element of the Pays de la Loire, as its name suggests. But for many of those in Brittany its heart and culture are theirs and it contains what many consider to be Brittany’s real capital, Nantes. But for many Brits the place to be is St Nazaire, or to be more precise, the seaside resorts to the west of it. But these areas can be pricey particularly Piriac-sur-Mer, Guerande, Batz-sur-Mer and Le Croisic where reasonably large detaches houses start at around €400,000. Houses both inland and on the coast in the best locations often sell for €1 million or more.
Buyers Need to Know
When you’re planning where to buy in Brittany, remember that not all the airports and ports in the region run regular services throughout the year. Some offer very much Summer-only services only with much less regular ones during the low season.