French property watch: Life in full swing in Haute-Garonne

This department is ideal for those who are considering buying a second home, but also those who want to live and work full-time in France

Views of Toulouse
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Departmental capital: Toulouse

Main cities/towns: Muret, Saint-Gaudens, Aspet Montesquieu-Volvestre, Montréjeau, Colomiers, Boulogne sur Gesse

Haute-Garonne is a narrow department following the course of the Garonne river for 200km from the Spanish Pyrenees. On its way it passes through Toulouse, the capital of the department, which has a rich workforce, from Airbus factories at nearby Blagnac, and a large student population.

Around Toulouse, properties are mainly red brick – in the rest of the department, stone-built homes are more common.

Property prices are on the high side, especially in the very populated area around Toulouse.

Occasional bargains can be found in the quieter south, where mountain views and access to ski stations are an attraction. For example, a village house with an attached small barn but no land was recently sold for just over €30,000. The house was habitable and a conversion project on the barn half done.

By contrast, ordinary-looking new-build flats near the airport, offering two bedrooms and a large kitchen/living room, will set you back at least €300,000.

If buying in Toulouse, consider air-conditioning – the combination of flat river valley, blazing sun and a built-up area makes the town very hot and humid in summer.

Toulouse is a transport hub, with autoroute, roads and railway all running along the Garonne valley from Bordeaux, passing the international airport on the way. Funding has been agreed to bring TGV trains to Toulouse via Bordeaux, which will bring rail times from Paris down to three hours.

The department has also been faster than others in providing high-speed internet – often even in mountain valleys.

Away from the main hubs, roads narrow and journey times increase, but the rolling countryside and views of the mountains make up for a lot.

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