Alright, so you know how to go about finding your new digs but how are you going to narrow down choosing a town or village. When we first decided to move to the French Pays Basque there were only two towns on our radar. Bidart because that is where my husband's firm is based and Biarritz because that is the go to town for the region. However,knowing just two towns can significantly reduce your chances of finding the right home and trust me there is a wide range out there and each offers something unique.
We happened to stumble across Bidart as the flat we had found at the time was bordering the two towns.However, over the first 9 months we really got a lay of the land and were able to make an informed decision when it came to purchasing a property.
By the way, in case I had forgotten to mention in my last post, it is pretty easy to find rentals but you need to know they are often seasonal and subject to rate changes during peak season. In our case, when we first moved to Illbarritz in Bidart we got a 2 bedroom flat with a garden ,walking distance to the beach for 850euros a month. However, that was the rate from the end of September to June. After June we had the choice to continue renting for 5,500euros a month for the months of July,August and September and then the previous rate of 850euros from November.Naturally we opted to vacate at the end of June and invest in our own property.
My advice to you is to make up a list of:
1)what you need to have around you
2)what you would like to have around you but can live without
3)what type of environment you are looking for - calm, busy,somewhere in the middle
4)Rank your preference - sea side, country, town
5) Your budget
6) square footage you need (bear in mind that in the bigger towns like Biarritz,Bayonne,Anglet and Bidart you will pay through your nose to live in a shoe box)
8)what is your mode of transport and what you require as not all places are accessible by public transport and taxis are expensive.
9) Would you need parking
10) Do you need a garden or are okay with public playgrounds (which are awesome in this region! There are several in each town and they are all well maintained and up to date)
Now let's be honest.Where you live is a reflection of your lifestyle.Therefore, it is useful to get an idea of each of the villages and towns before settling down and investing in a piece of property or signing a rental contract.
64 Postal codes :
So here is a quick guide to help you determine where to live.Bear in mind that everywhere is in close proximity
64100 Bayonne is a "big" town. There are a lot of things to do here with respect to restaurants,bars,shopping (boutiques,brands and Gallery Lafayette) and the hospital,rugby stadium, botanical gardens , the industrial zone, indoor recreation facilities and the big annual Christmas circus is set up here. Let us not neglect to remember this is the place of Fete de Bayonne which welcomes millions of party-goers every year around the end of July which can cause parking to be a nightmare.This town offers mainly apartment living and lots of traffic during peak hours.It has very good public transport but no beaches.
64600 Anglet - big town, can find seaside housing or housing by the forest, lots of beaches,bike paths,restaurants, outdoor and indoor activities such as surfing, adventure parks,horse back riding,ice skating and ice hockey.Can be affordable but if you chose to be by the coast like Chambre d'Amour or by the golf course at Chibirta you will find yourself forking out a pretty penny.
64200 Biarritz ,Arcangues,Bassussarry
Biarritz - a walking city, not so much fun if you have a disability and need to use a wheelchair. There is boutique shopping,Gallery La Fayette restaurants, spas, beaches, outdoor activities,spectacular views when walking,lots of tourists and traffic during peak seasons,expensive.Apartment or houses but very small spaces for high prices.
Bidart - Grocery shopping and bakeries,restaurants, beaches, outdoor water activities,spectacular views when walking,lots of tourists and traffic during peak seasons,expensive.Great ambiance. In my opinion,it is the ideal place to live except for all the traffic and tourists for 3 to 4 months of the year .However, it is prime property and is expensive.
Ahetze,Arbonne - These villages are all 1 minute to 5 minutes from Biarritz. Countryside living as you get into Ahetze and Arbonne. They are all quiet, away from the traffic and tourists,beautiful and in close proximity to everything. There are also several shortcuts you can take during summer to avoid traffic and still get to your favourite beaches in Bidart.Beaches are 10 minutes by car.
64500 St Jean de Luz is about 30 minutes away from Biarritz and is a charming and charming seaside town. During the low season it can be very quiet. It has several indoor and outdoor recreational facilities such as the beach,surfing ,water sports,hiking up La Rhune and the St Jean de Luz indoor pool.A lot of small boutique shops and restaurants. It is a small town and you can walk around it very easily.
64310 Ascain,Sare,St Pee sur Nivelle
64700 Hendaye,Urrugne, Socoa,Ciboure - These are nearer to the Spanish border so you will find massive Spanish communities. Therefore if you speak Spanish and not French and want a place to start of in while you lean the language these places would be ideal for you. They all are cute and have beaches and outdoor water activities and historic sites.
Well there you go.There are several other villages and obviously a lot to say about each town and village but this should get you started.Good luck in your search!