Aude is geographically diverse. While driving, you will find the high mountains of the Pyrenees, gorges, rolling hills full of vineyards, picturesque farming scenes, and the Mediterranean sea. It has the best of everything. Being France’s second-largest producer of wine, it is difficult to become bored when the scenery changes every 30 minutes while driving. The history is rich and dates from before the 11th century. Most of the villages in this region are part of the Dolomite Road that connected the Roman Empire.
Local Cathar history inspires best-selling books even today. Healthcare and education always rank top 10 in the world. France is on the International Living list as one of the best countries for retirement, and according to Time Magazine, it is number six as one of the most productive countries in the world for 2019 (YES! with six weeks vacation and 2-hour lunches!) Let’s not forget the most important factor: 300 days of sunshine.
Now you may have come across real estate sites that show you amazing deals of beautiful country homes in France for under 20,000 dollars, but there’s a catch. These homes are extremely rural. Parts of France are so rural that there is no internet, cell service, or even cable. These zones are called “Zone Blanche”. Imagine, if you will, France is the size of Texas and can easily be compared to the Lone Star State. Much of the population lives around major cities, the rest is a vast rural farming region with gaps of coverage. Knowing this and adding sunshine as a key factor limited our areas to live in France.
The problem: How do I choose where to live? The Buffet of Aude!
Small Town With Plenty of Choices: Carcassonne
Carcassonne is a city with just 48,000 inhabitants. It has a small international airport for flights within Europe.
Toulouse International and Montpellier International airports are both 1 hour away. Barcelona’s International Airport is a 3-hour drive or 1.5 hours by train. Carcassonne is ideal, providing a variety of museums, restaurants, and music festivals.
It is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, known as one of the best-preserved medieval cities in Europe. Rent in Carcassonne varies on square footage. A studio apartment can cost around 200 euros. A single-family home with a small yard goes for around 800 euros. Home prices vary, depending on size and if they are within the city limits.
One can find a small house in a village within a ten-minute drive of Carcassonne for as little as 50,000 Euros. A larger architectural house with an acre of may cost under 200,000 euros. Many choose to live here, as the cost of living is considerably less than in other major cities within a few hours’ radius.
Rurality With Amenities: Quillan
Quillan is 1 hour south of Carcassonne and has amenities, views, and rurality. It is a small village in the Pyrenees Mountains with roughly 3,500 inhabitants and many tourists during spring and summer. Visitors enjoy the eco-tourism and local produce (wine included) of the area.
Quillan has three bakers, two butchers, three banks, several doctors, two chain supermarkets, and 17! restaurants.
This is an immense variety of amenities for a small village in France, not to mention, it also has all levels of schooling for children. The cost by train or bus is 1 euro or $1.18 (average exchange rate) to any city toward Carcassonne or Perpignan.
Want higher mountains, the sea, or Spain? Just drive one 1.5 hours in any direction! A small furnished rental can be found for as little as 500 euros a month off-season, double for summer.
Long-term rentals are based on square footage. A one-bedroom apartment costs under 400 euros. Houses vary in the area, but a small home in the village could be as little as 20,000. It may be ugly but fully habitable!
A Gem on the Coast: Narbonne
Prefer the sea? Want the Mediterranean sea at your doorstep? Then check out Narbonne. Narbonne catches the attention of many Europeans who come down for their yearly dose of vitamin D.
This hidden gem has beaches as beautiful as Nice, Cannes, and St. Tropez at a fraction of the price.
Nearby towns like Gruissan have been mentioned in articles by Vogue as some of the best places to have oysters.
Narbonne has a variety of museums, many with vast Roman history.
One can even walk on the original Dolomite road. A small apartment of 250 square feet in the center of town can cost you 50,000 euros! One could rent a small studio for 268 euros a month.
Larger provincial homes surrounded by lavender and vineyards within 15 minutes of the beach could be easily found under 300,000 euros.
Where would you choose to live if you moved to France? Let me know in the comments!
by: Maday Miralles-Carnley