As the colder weather comes in, our thoughts are turning to the sunny south – and it would seem we’re not alone, with picturesque Uzès being our most searched-for location in France this month! It sits in the beautiful region of the Gard, whose historic villages and towns are popular among both French and overseas homebuyers. But what is living here really like, and where are the best places to buy property in the Gard?
Living in the Gard
The Gard is the eastern part of the Languedoc, located in the sunkissed south of France, and enjoys year-round sunshine with very low rainfall levels. The southernmost part, the Petite Camargue, enjoys a warm climate year-round, with temperatures getting hotter the further inland you go. Past the central Garrigues and Uzégeois areas, you enter into hillier land covered with unspoilt forests. Typically, the only exception will be ‘épisodes Cévenols’ – a few dramatic thunderstorms in October.
The Gard is largely an area of small, historic villages and towns, many dating right back to the medieval times. It’s ideal for anyone looking for a holiday home or a full-time home with the intention of having a bit of an adventure! The warm weather lends itself to outdoor activities, whether it’s cycling through the hills and narrow village streets, visiting one of the many markets, hiking along the coast or taking a dip in the Mediterranean.
What sort of properties can you buy in the Gard?
Most homes here are either historic or constructed in a ‘sympathetic’ style, built in the local honey-coloured stone. Village houses are generally tall and narrow, with small windows to shade against the summer heat, and a small courtyard or garden at the back. They make ideal ‘lock-up-and-leave’ holiday homes (or full-time homes for anyone who doesn’t want to do much maintenance!). Rural properties usually come with a good amount of land and often a swimming pool to enjoy the long summers in.
How easy is it to get to the Gard?
Access is easier than you might think for a rural region. Besides the small airport at Nîmes, which flies to Luton, Stansted and Liverpool, you’re within easy driving distance of the large airports of Marseille and Montpellier. As for train connections, a TGV whisks you from Paris to Nîmes in about three hours. The local road network is excellent, albeit narrow and winding.
Where are the best places to live in the Gard?
The Gard is filled with characterful villages and towns, some of which feel like stepping back in time. However, in some areas, you’ll find that they do tend to ‘close down’ over winter – so here’s our list of Gard villages and towns with a year-round buzz!
Uzès is a gorgeous historic town, centred around the impressive castle – home of the Dukes of Uzès, once the ‘premier dukes of France’. The narrow streets of the old town are filled with small cafés, bistros and boutiques, and people come from all over the Uzège to its bustling Saturday market, the largest in the region. Somewhat unexpectedly, this picturesque town is also home to a Haribo factory!
There are plenty of impressive village houses in the centre, many built over a century ago by wealthy textile merchants. The outskirts largely consist of single-family, detached villas with a bit of land. A village house will go for around €170,000-€300,000, while villas can go for anything from €280,000 to millions. Most, however, will be around the €400,000 mark.
Situated in the Petite Camargue, Vauvert has previously won awards as the best place to live in the Gard, and it’s easy to see why. For the southern coastal region, properties are less expensive than you might expect, with traditional mas selling for €300,000. You can find small village homes to be renovated for under €100,000. There’s a strong community spirit, with over forty associations available to join, from charities to sporting clubs and more. In 2019, Vauvert was awarded the title ‘Villa sportive’ for its active lifestyle.
Perched at the entrance to the Ardèche Gorges, with dramatic views over the river and surrounding countryside, Aiguèze is a fantastic place to enjoy the best of the Gard countryside. Properties here are mainly historic village houses, built in shaded, closely-packed streets. Outside space is at a premium, but if you head just to the other side of the river (and technically outside of the Gard!), you will find the modern modern village of Les Grandes, with large villas in the vernacular stone and a bit more in the way of gardens.
Le Grau-du-Roi enjoys the distinction of being the only village in the Gard to have a seafront directly on the Mediterranean – much of the coast is taken up by the Petite Camargue natural park. It’s perfect for beach-lovers, with 18km of sandy beaches, and is also known for the variety of its wildlife and birdlife. The old town is where you’ll find rare-to-market, historic homes, while the charming Port Camargue, on the seafront, has been built in a sympathetic ‘neoclassical’ style.