French property watch: Why buy in Loir-et-Cher and prices to expect

Famous chateaux and a great position not far from Paris make this a popular department for city dwellers looking for a country retreat

Loir-et-Cher is home to some of France’s most famous chateaux, including Chaumont above

Loir-et-Cher is in a strategic position, not far from Paris and in the central Centre-Val de Loire region.

Its prefecture Blois, along with Tours to the west and Orléans to the east, is part of a vibrant cultural axis.

Much of this is due to Jack Lang, local MP for many years and mayor of Blois for a decade, who was a flamboyant culture minister under François Mitterrand.

His most famous legacy was the Fête de la Musique, held every year on June 21.

As a result, Blois is a familiar name among French people despite its relatively small size as a city of 45,000.

The department also has some of France’s most famous chateaux, including Blois, Chambord, Chaumont and Troussay.

Transport links are good, including the A10 Paris-Bordeaux autoroute.

TGV stations from either Tours or Orléans are accessed via a TER service running along the Loire valley.

The contrast between the view from the autoroute and the rich agricultural land, lakes and rivers of the department is great.

There are plenty of restored properties at near-chateau prices, aimed at rich city-dwellers after a country pile.

An example is a very good conversion of a longère into a seven-bedroom house on two hectares of land, including a mature flower garden.

It is at Villechauve, to the west of Blois, and on the market for €494,000.

For those looking to do their own renovation, smaller towns and villages have properties with potential.

These include a former rail crossing cottage with two bedrooms and a 900m² garden for €22,000 in the village of Gièvres.

Occasionally, cave houses, dug from soft tuffeau stone, become available.

One two-bedroom cottage with a cave now used for storage was recently on the market for €47,000.

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