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There is a small, little-known corner of the north western end of the huge Rhône-Alpes region in France which is waiting, somewhat patiently, for discovery and greater attention. This area is called ‘Le Roannais’ in the departement of the Loire.
Yes, of course, many tourists, including business men, from the UK and other parts of Europe visit, or drive through the region down the famous rue N7 every year. This is exactly what they often do – drive straight through or around it without stopping and taking a ‘breath’! They are missing a lot.
Roanne is the main township with, for example, France’s second city of Lyon just over an hour’s drive or train journey away.
Vichy, with its famous spring waters, is also nearby, and Saint Etienne on the edge of the stunning, volcanic region of Puy-de-Dôme.
Vineyards decorate the surrounding hillsides, with Cote Roannaise wine, made from Gamay grapes, being the local tipple. Also, the popular vineyards and succulent wines of the Beaujolais are just 45 minutes away.
There is much to see and do – from a large number of heritage sites, medieval villages, (some buildings
Medieval castles and renaissance country houses abound – “Chateau de la Roche” being, probably, the most romantic.
Set on a rocky outcrop in the middle of the Loire, this classic ‘fairytale’ castle Is stunning. Every year in August there is an incredible son et lumiere including dramatic firework displays celebrating its medieval history. (Brilliant for all the family!)
Roanne is surrounded by the uplands known as Monts de la Madeleine, Monts du Beaujolais and Monts du Lyonnais.
They provide breathtaking panoramic views of the Roanne Valley, and are easily accessible for hill-walking, mountain-biking, and, of course, ski-ing and snow-boarding during the winter months.
This is a region which is developing, and is becoming much more easily accessible due to new links to France’s ever-growing auto-route network.
Lyon, in particular, continues to expand, and the Roannais is becoming even more commutable.
Most villages and townships within 25 kilometres of Lyon have seen massive increases in property prices during the last 10 years. The Roannais is less than 50 kilometres away, and is such a ‘prize’ of a place for country living (but with all amenities, shops, entertainment, schools, colleges, etc.), for people wanting to live ‘the life’ whilst working and earning in the city.
There is even the possibility of a direct TGV link into Roanne in the near future. Even now, access to the TGV to Paris and Marseille, for example, is simple with easy connections to Lyon.
The ski resorts of the Alpes are around 3 hour’s drive away, and the popular southern regions and French Riviera are in easy reach.
There are several convenient airports such as Lyon (St.Exupery), Saint Etienne, Grenoble, Chambery, Geneva .
Property opportunities abound, and with all the rapid, ongoing regional development it seems, therefore, to be a particularly good time to invest.
Such opportunities include remarkable, ancient chateaux, farmhouses, barns, and medieval village townhouses (either in the mountains, hillsides, or amongst the forests and rich farmland.
Prices are good. There are absolute bargains and renovation opportunities to be had.
You can pick up a huge chateau for less than 550,000 euros, a farmhouse for less than 150,000 euros, or barn or cottage, ripe for renovation, for less than 50,000 euros.
Prices, of course, like most regions throughout France, vary a lot, and the willingness of the Roannais locals to negotiate is well known.
In the last 10 years property prices have increased throughout the Roannais region, and in the next 5 years, or so, prices, despite the current economic malaise, it is certainly expected that property prices will move upward further.