The French towns north of Bordeaux in the La Rochelle region are attracting remote workers and second-home seekers.

La Rochelle Region A Destination for “More Discreet” Homebuyers

Well-heeled Parisians have been flocking to La Rochelle and its coastal towns for years.  North of Bordeaux in the Charente-Maritime department, the region of La Rochelle offers stunning natural beauty, sunny weather and well-preserved architectural history.  It also offers an unpretentious vibe.

Angelique Sawtell, the commercial director for Maxwell-Baynes Real Estate, the La Rochelle affiliate of Christie’s International Real Estate, said, “It’s not like the south of France, where everything’s buzzing and there’s a lot of money to show off.  Here, people are much more discreet.  You kind of show the money you have by the wine you’re drinking at your table or the size of your property, or the positioning – the situation of it.”

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Demand in La Rochelle Region Spurred by Pandemic

Like many second-home markets and areas well suited to remote work, demand in the La Rochelle region of France grew dramatically during the pandemic.

Damien Lime, an agent with La Rochelle Ile de Re Sotheby’s Realty, said that his agency increased its sales volume within the upper tier of the market by +30% from 2020 to 2021.  Lime expects sales growth to slow in 2022 to the range of +5-10% due to more limited supplies.

Sawtell also saw an increase in luxury home sales with a steady increase in prices in the La Rochelle region.  Demand is constant for what Sawtell calls “traditional builds” made from stone.  Sawtell said, “…sellers are getting a little bit more greedy, because they can see that tomorrow the prices will have risen again.  And the people that sold a year ago regret what they sold, because the prices have come up so much.”


According to data from the property listing portal Figaro Immobilier, prices increased +11% y/y overall in the Charente-Maritime region with older homes gaining more value than newly constructed homes.  Prices in the coastal town of La Flotte increased +24% y/y reaching $795/square foot in March 2022.

Coastal properties in the La Rochelle region start at approximately 750,000 euros or $790,000.

Luxury homes on Ile de Re start at approximately 1.2M euros or $1.26M, according to Joanna Leggett, the marketing director for Leggett International Real Estate. In nearby Ile d’Olderon and close-by areas of Rochefort, Marennes and Saint-Palais-sure-Mer, apartments cost approximately 200,000 euros or $211,000 and single-family properties start at 450,000 euros or $475,000.

Leggett said, “Those (who) may be selling a million-euro apartment in Paris could easily afford a beautiful home/villa or seafront property in this area.”

Who’s Buying?

Often likened to the Hamptons, the La Rochelle region and its two islands, Ile de Re and Ile d’Oleron, are particular favorites of the French.  Leggett said, “Wealthy families will own second homes here and they are not often sold, but inherited.”

Since the beginning of 2022, approximately 50% of some 40,000 buyer inquiries have come from Britain and 10% from Americans.  The remainder of home seekers come from Ireland, Holland, Australia, Canada, Belgium and Switzerland.

There are no restrictions on foreign buyers in France.  Notaries handle the transactions.  The buyer’s closing costs, notary fee and government taxes run around 7% of the purchase price.

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Thanks to The New York Times.

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