Property prices are relatively low in all three regions, despite their geographical advantage, with access to other major European countries, the international airport at Strasbourg and TGV links throughout the three regions.
Lorraine’s Meuse department is the cheapest of all the regions, with an average of just €1,022 per square metre. In the department’s préfecture Bar-le- Duc, this average drops to just €1,001 per square metre, despite the department’s recently completed TGV Est link to Paris. The department also houses a number of Jardins Remarquables, châteaux, the village of Beaulieu-en-Argonne, which was awarded four stars by the Grand Prix National de Fleurissement, and part of the Parc Naturel Régional de Lorraine. To the south of the department, Bar-le-Duc is particularly striking, surrounded by vineyards and flanking the Ornain river. The town is divided into the lower, more commercial part and the residential ville haute, which clings onto a steep hill, watched over by the remains of the château.
Neighbouring Meurthe-et- Moselle houses the other half of the Parc Naturel Régional de Lorraine, as well as Nancy. The capital, Nancy, is a spectacular town with its UNESCO World Heritagelisted Place Stanislas. Prices here average out at €1,855 per square metre, on a par with Lorraine’s other major town, Metz, in the Moselle department. Epinal, meanwhile, in Lorraine’s southernmost department, Vosges, is also well known for its artistic tradition. Often called Cité de l’Image, the town has played host to many famous illustrators and stencillers. Prices here are a low €1,297 per square metre.
The Vosges mountains, to the south of Lorraine, separate it from Franche-Comté. This region is known for its fermes comtoises. These large farms, which are usually nestled on mountain slopes, are distinctive for their large wooden roofs and tuye – tall, pyramid-shaped chimneys traditionally used to smoke meats and sausages. Franche- Comté has a lot going for it; its proximity to Basel airport and stunning countryside would sell it to anyone looking for a country retreat.
Meanwhile, the TGV Rhin- Rhône line, due for completion in 2012, is bound to have an effect on property prices. Construction was inaugurated in Villersexel-les- Margny in 2006, and the line will connect Dijon to Mulhouse (eastern branch), Montbard (western branch) and Lyon (southern branch), transporting an estimated 12 million passengers per year, and drastically improving commuter services in Franche- Comté. Thanks to this new line, the journey time between Belfort and Paris will drop from almost four hours to just 2h20, meaning that Franche-Comté will be just over five hours from London by train.
Those looking to buy a holiday home could do worse than the Jura department. Prices here stand at €1,269 per square metre, and the area boasts both skiing in winter and watersports in summer. Meanwhile, Geneva airport is easily accessible from Doubs, and the regional capital, Besançon, with its thriving cultural life and stunning architecture, would make a great city base. Besançon connects with both Lille and Paris by TGV, so is handy for Eurostar passengers.
In Alsace, prices are understandably more expensive, due in no small part to Strasbourg’s important role in the EU. The Bas-Rhin department’s average property costs €1,843 per square metre – rising to €2,387 in central Strasbourg. The Haut-Rhin department is marginally cheaper, with average prices standing at €1,838 per square metre.
Both of these departments are set to benefit from the new TGV line – with journey times between Strasbourg and Lyon reduced to 2h05 from 4h35 and Marseille just 4h30 away. The eastern branch is the most advanced of the three to be constructed and is due for completion in 2011. It would seem, therefore, that investors can’t go wrong with property in Strasbourg – not only is there a thriving buy-to-let market but transport links couldn’t be better.
Source: French Property Buying Guide 2010 / 2011