When most people think of the French Basque Country, they imagine upscale coastal cities such as Biarritz and Saint Jean de Luz, but the backcountry (known as “Les Terres”) has quite a lot to offer when it comes to quality of life. Small villages tucked away are obviously less popular than emblematic cities with tens of thousands of inhabitants, but trends are gradually changing and more home buyers are leaning towards home purchases in more rural areas.
Advantages of living in “les terres” of the Basque Country
Better Bang For Your Buck
This would be the most obvious advantage. To give you an example, the average price per m2 in Biarritz is 6 680 €, and 2 500 € in Saint-Jean-Pied-de-Port. This means that you’ll be able to afford more for less and have more space for increasingly important home offices, guest rooms, and bedrooms. However, if this sounds like something you’d like to take advantage of, now is the time to act.
Due to COVID, a much higher percentage of home buyers are moving to rural areas, which is driving up real estate prices in such markets. This trend will only continue as remote work becomes more commonplace and paying a premium for paying in major cities where everything is closed becomes increasingly pointless. Needless to say, the value of your home in les terres will inevitably increase as more people leave larger cities to live “the good life”, which the Basque Country personifies. Since real estate prices in les terres are more accessible, a significant portion of the recent influx are populating the area.
You’re Not As Isolated As You Think
Regardless of where you are in the Pays Basque, you’re never more than roughly an hour from the ocean and the amenities of larger cities such as Saint Jean de Luz, Bayonne and Biarritz. There are also a plethora of beautiful, authentic villages located throughout the Basque Country, all with their own schools, local businesses and communities, such as:
- La Bastide-Clairence
Ainhoa, La Bastide Clairence, Saint-Jean-Pied-de-Port and Sare have been labeled among the “plus beaux villages de France” (most beautiful villages in France). Time appears to have stood still in these quaint villages that have preserved their traditional Basque architecture to an impressive extent.
Better Air Quality
Fresh air and an absence of sound and light pollution is a modern luxury.
The further out into the country you get, the higher the quality of the air thanks to less pollution and a higher concentration of trees and grass. Phytochemicals released from plants, fungi, and microbes improve the quality of human cells. Country air has been shown to protect from health conditions including asthma and heart disease.
Living in urban environments over-stimulates the regions of the brain associated with emotions and anxiety. Scientists believe this is the reason they see higher rates of mental health problems in cities compared to rural areas. In more natural settings, the brain does not experience such excessive stimulation that it was not designed to handle on a daily basis.
The psychological benefits of living in rural areas include a lower risk of anxiety disorders and mood disorders. There is also research showing that city living increases the risk for more mental health issues, such as schizophrenia. Stressful environments negatively impact developing brains.
Now, you’re not going to be able to completely prevent mental illness by living in the countryside, but you will avoid common risk factors.
Foods Right From the Source
As we’ve already established, prices in les terres are much cheaper, which means that you’ll likely have a sizeable yard. Not only will your dog be happier, but you can also grow your own fruits and vegetables. A chicken pen would be another possibility.
There are a variety of local farms located in les terres, so you can buy products right from producers, which decreases the price and increases the quality of your food.
Les Terres of the Basque Country provides for some excellent hiking. One fantastic example would be les Gorges de Kakuetta in Haut Soule, a 4km long hike located in an area that is one of the wildest and most prestigious in Europe. The entire hike can be done in a total of two hours, and along the way, you’ll see a gorgeous, turquoise colored lake and waterfalls surrounded by lush vegetation. Undeveloped, picturesque landscapes certainly are a commonality throughout the Basque Country, especially in Les Terres.
With mountainous terrain and a relatively moderate climate, the Pays Basque is a mountain biker’s dream.
Some of the most popular Mountain Bike paths:
- Descente du Jaizkibel
- Forêt d’Urrugne et falaises de Socoa
- Lac d’Ibardin
- Ascension de la Rhune
- Tourbières d’Ascain et hauteurs d’Ibaron
- Tour de l’Ursuya
- Parcours des palombières de Sare
- Col des trois croix d’Espelette
- Col des veaux et la montagne de l’ours
- Bidarray et le village abandonné
From June until October, the Basque Country provides a favorable environment for Cèpes.
Some starting points would include:
- La forêt d’Irtaty
- La Forêt de Saint-Pée-sur-Nivelle
- Forêt d’Haïra en haute vallée des Aldudes
Not only does Les Terres in the Pays Basque offer accessible real estate prices, but also an exceptional quality of life with plenty of activities for the whole family. If you would like to learn more about buying a home in Les Terres, feel free to contact O’Plus Immobilier so we can find you the perfect home and make your transition be as smooth as possible.