Departmental capital: Chartres
Main cities/towns: Dreux, Lucé, Châteaudun, Vernouillet, Nogent-le-Rotrou, Mainvilliers
Eure-et-Loir gets its name from the two rivers that cross the department – the Eure, which heads north-west to join the Seine near Rouen in Normandy, and the Loir (without an ‘e’), which heads south-west to join its big sister, the Loire (with an ‘e’) near Angers. Separating the two is a low watershed, rising to around 200m.
Broadly speaking, the two sides of the watershed have different landscapes. The north-east is mainly flat, with wheatfields stretching to the horizon, hence the name the ‘breadbasket of Paris’, while the south-west has rolling hills and valleys. Wind turbines are everywhere but especially along the ridges separating valleys in the south.
The prefecture, Chartres, with its world-famous cathedral, is situated in the centre. It is only 90km by road from Paris but has an air of being a busy, important provincial town in its own right. The main transport links, the A11 autoroute and TER trains feeding Paris, all run by or through Chartres.
Eure-et-Loir saw a 141% increase in property queries in June last year, mainly from better-off Parisian families looking for more space after the lockdowns. Whether this translates to more second homes remains to be seen. As it is, between 7% and 10% of houses are classified as such.
There are few properties in the department below €170,000, with most being around the €200,000 mark, and those over €400,000 not uncommon. Demand is high – the department is busy, with both ‘Cosmetic Valley’ around Chartres (specialising in the production and packaging of perfumes) and ‘Polepharma’ (pharmaceutical production) providing lots of high-skilled and well-paid jobs.