French property watch: Why buy in Landes and what prices to expect

Coastal areas have developed into a holiday and retirement playground but you can still find bargains inland

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Departmental capital: Mont-de-Marsan

Main cities/towns: Dax, Biscarrosse, Tarnos, Saint-Paul-lès-Dax

Landes, tucked away in the south-west corner of France, is, for the casual driver speeding down the autoroute, a huge, flat pinewood forest, often baking in the sun.

The forest is artificial, planted in the 19th century after engineers realised they could drill through a layer of impermeable rock and drain the mosquito-plagued swamps that, until then, covered most of the surface.

It was an ecological disaster for aquatic birds that overwintered there but such points did not register then.

In recent times, Landes has seen a sharp rise in population.

Read more: French property market: what notaires and experts expect for 2023

Almost all growth has been on the coast

The Landes beach, part of the 200km Côte d’Argent that runs from the Gironde estuary down to the Basque Country, has developed into a holiday and retirement playground.

Thermal spas, especially around Dax, also attract tourists.

In the south of the department is an area of rich farmland known as La Chalosse, famous for foie gras and prime beef.

Landes’ capital, Mont-de-Marsan, is a military town.

It marches to its own rhythms, a long way from the sea, sand and surf that have brought so many newcomers.


Photo: Landes’ capital, Mont-de-Marsan; Credit: Migeli Barrios

Cheaper homes inland

The department has two north-south autoroutes, the A63 and the recently completed A65.

Bordeaux is the nearest international airport and TGV station.

Read more: New resident tax to help fund high-speed rail link in southwest France

Property prices are generally high along the coast but inland it is possible to find family homes, needing work but with some land, for under €50,000.

For under €100,000, you might find a small studio flat in one of the coastal resorts, such as a 27m² apartment in Seignosse with a communal swimming pool and only a stone’s throw from the dunes.

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