Discover Life in Mesmerising Brittany
Brittany is one of the areas of France in which the Brits choose to retire. Although, according to the comic, the legendary heroes Asterix and Obelix used to live in a village in Armorica, we don’t think really that this is the reason why Brits seem to be attracted to the idea of retiring in Brittany. Sir Winston Churchill preferred to spend his holidays in Dinard, which many people call the “Cannes of the North.”
Brittany is the area of France right opposite to Cornwall in the UK. Sometimes, it has been referred to as Lesser or Little Britain to compete with its northern neighbour. For many centuries, Brittany had been a proud independent realm for many centuries and some of its citizens still speak the old Breton language, which is a south-western Brittonic Celtic language closely related to Cornish. Brittany is more than a simple region. It’s a country in itself because of its rich Celtic culture and tradition.
Whether you want to travel or retire in Brittany, you will discover that the Bretons are people that give a warm welcome to foreigners, but also that Brittany offers a majestic natural wealth. The hospitality, the picturesque landscapes and the fact that Brittany is only a short distance from the UK are a few of the many reasons why this part of France is packed with British people all year round. Some of them like travelling in the French country side, while others prefer to retire there.
The sizeable British community in Brittany will allow you to postpone French language learning that you always tried to avoid in school. In case you need help with anything, the community has a ready solution for you. The AIKB (Association Integration Kreiz Breizh site) is a non-profit organisation which was founded in 2003, to help newcomers settle into their new life in Brittany. The members of the board are all British that have stayed in the lovely area of France for many years and are there to help you or integrate into the community.
The AIKB can help you with translating official letters, help you fill your tax form or register your car. It will also offer you opportunities to meet new friends in various social events and will help you enrich your cultural sense by organising visits in museums, galleries etc. Even if you want to learn French, the AIKB will bring you together with French volunteers who will help you with that.
Brittany has always been a popular choice for Brits looking to buy a house abroad. The ease of access from the English ports of Plymouth, Portsmouth and Poole and the low-cost flights between the UK and the north of France is an important reason for that. However, being easily accessible from the UK affects the cost of a property. Prices have risen in the last 3-4 years, since British investors have flooded the market. Some say that this happens because the French consider the British buyers rather wealthy so they increase their prices. On the other hand, notaries say that vendors increase the prices, something that puts off many buyers. Analysts say that fighting this trend has helped stabilise property prices.
Most properties in Brittany are less than an hour’s drive from the beachside allowing owners to enjoy the sea, but also the beautiful rivers and towns of the area without having to endure traffic jams as you would experience in the South of France. Prices are high when the property is located around the coast, and they get much more expensive if you want to have a house on the Breton Islands. According to the French notaries’ index, houses in rural areas are usually less expensive than those in villages and towns. The average resale price is around €148,000 compared to the national average of €156,000. The cheapest area is Cotes-d’Armor with an average price of €121,000, making it very popular with expats and second home owners. Morbihan is also popular with holidaymakers and pensioners and because of that it’s the second highest property place with an average property price amounting to €160,000. Rennes, which is the capital of Brittany, and the famous harbour-town of Saint-Malo are the reasons why you will find it expensive to buy a house in the Ille-et-Vilaine area. In that area, you will need to spend around €135,000 for a 3-bedroom apartment.
If you want to buy a new house, look no further than Morbihan, which hosts the majority of the newly-built seaside apartments. In this case, you will need £2,560 per square meter for a 3-bedroom family apartment. While the buyer can be tempted by the low purchasing prices, he should calculate the additional costs of renovation. The cost of renovation remains the same, no matter how cheaply a property has been bought for. Improvements and maintenance should be calculated in the buyer’s budget. French notaries say that renovation project prices start from £29,000.
If you’re a fan of getting some well-deserved peace and quiet, perhaps you should consider buying a traditional Breton Longere house. It can be rather expensive, but owning a house such as that will make you feel like a real Breton. Longere literally means “long house”. Made of stone, longeres are one storey long properties that can be found everywhere in Brittany. The price for an average longere ranges from £175,000 to £255,000. Brittany is full of these houses that were mainly used as housing for manual labourers, but now that the need has diminished, they suffer long-term neglect and they just need someone to renovate them.
The old British aristocracy loved Brittany for its beautiful beaches, the Celtic tradition and the medieval citadels. If you got tired of life’s manic pace in the UK, you can swap it for a more relaxed life in the French countryside. And did we mention that Brittany is where the delicious crepes come from?!