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Expert property guide to Herault, Occitaine

Herault, on France鈥檚 Mediterranean coast, is a renowned centre of wine and olive production. With pretty seaside towns, dramatic river gorges and a rich architectural and cultural heritage, the area has a lot to offer residents and visitors alike. It has a geography that ranges from maritime forest and heathland close to the sea, through to the foothills of the Massif Central mountain range.

The beautiful inland Lac du Salagou is the perfect spot for swimming or water sports, while the calm shallow waters of Etang de Thau near S猫te, are used to farm the oysters that you may find on your lunchtime platter of fruits de mer at one of the coast鈥檚 many seafood restaurants. Herault enjoys an average of 300 days of sunshine a year, but while the south enjoys a warm Mediterranean climate, the north experiences more seasonal changes. All this means you鈥檙e never far from a change of scene or a change of weather should you want one.

Herault鈥檚 capital, Montpellier is historic and cultural, home to one of the oldest universities in the world, founded in 1220, when the city was ruled by Spain before being sold to the French in the 14th century. Its imposing citadel was built in the 1620s for King Louis XIII. Known as the city of 100 fountains, Montpellier also has several museums. On a more modern note, it’s one of France’s wine-growing cities, meaning your tipple doesn鈥檛 have to travel far to reach your glass.

Property hotspot

Daniel Lake, estate agent with , the multi-award-winning estate agents in France, calls this beautiful part of France his home. He moved here from the UK with his husband Kevin to P茅zenas, just a few miles from the coast. With its creamy stone buildings and historic squares, the town centre鈥檚 architecture spans the late Middle Ages right up to grand 17th and 18th century mansions. He tells us what he loves about this part of France, the local property market, and why it鈥檚 such a great place to live.

What inspired you to move to P茅zenas?

鈥淚 spent many years holidaying in, and then living near, Montpellier and fell in love with the parasol pines, azure Mediterranean Sea and the breath-taking countryside. We loved the idea of being able to access our favourite towns in the region, such as La Grande-Motte, S猫te, Agde, Montpellier, P茅zenas and Beziers. It鈥檚 also easy to fly into Gatwick from Montpellier airport, with flights all year round.

This is also the perfect place to base our businesses. As estate agents with international agency Leggett Immobilier, we always communicate to our sellers the importance of how they present their homes to potential buyers. We also run Dapper Maison which helps clients who want to present their home at its best.鈥

What made you fall in love with the place?

鈥淥ur house is fully renovated with many original features and low maintenance gardens. We also have a pool, which is a must in this part of France. P茅zenas is a 20-minute drive from the coast and less than a 10-minute drive away from our home, offering a large range of shops, restaurants, caf茅s and bars.

The nearby villages of Caux, Neffi猫s and Roujan are thriving, with great bars and restaurants. We really wanted to live somewhere lively, rather than a sleepy villages with nothing going on. We chose the town not only for its stunning appearance and year-round activities, but also because of its proximity to everything this region has to offer.

We have beautiful beaches less than 30 minutes away from our home. We also have access to fantastic wines from a vast number of estates and we鈥檙e less than hour from the Spanish border, it鈥檚 an ideal location.鈥

What are some of the best things to do in the area?


鈥淭here鈥檚 so much to do. The Mediterranean coast, windsurfing or taking a lazy lunch. Excellent shopping in Montpellier and Beziers. Great mountain walks and mountain bike routes nearby and Lac Salagou is seriously good for water sports. Then there are the year-round festivals. Local vineyards and the many co-operatives offer visits and tastings of their excellent wines.

S猫te is a definite must-see with the canal passing through the middle of the town where you can sit and watch the boats. It鈥檚 the perfect place for a seafood lunch, shopping, or hiking up to one of the viewpoints to see the coastline in all its glory. The large waterfront is lined with examples of wonderful, typically French architecture and the marina is filled with hundreds of brightly decorated fishing boats. The town has as superb market. Shops, restaurants and bars line the bustling streets, and my top tip is to visit the spectacular viewpoint at the hill of Mont Saint-Clair or one of the many golden sandy beaches which wrap around the town.

M猫ze is home to some of the best oyster beds in France. Along the coastline you鈥檒l find plenty of huts and restaurants serving oysters and wine, many have views of Mont Saint-Clair. La Grande Motte has wide boulevards and a unique architecture – think cruise liners! Originally designed in the 1960s, this seaside town has been totally regenerated and rebranded as LGM.聽 It has a very chic marina with luxurious yachts, excellent restaurants and funky cocktails lounges.

To the west of S猫te is the town of Agde. Founded as a Greek colony in about 500 BC, the beach of La Tamarissi猫re is memorable, with sand dunes, clusters of pine trees and an azure blue bay. It doesn鈥檛 get overcrowded, a great place to swim and relax and, like most places here, parking is free.鈥

Which are some of the most popular spots for property seekers?

鈥淧茅zenas with its large Saturday market every Saturday is very popular with expats. Tourists and locals alike gather for the very best produce, to listen to live music and absorb the vibrant atmosphere. Neffi猫s is also popular 鈥 the village has around 1,000 inhabitants and a high expat population. Many villages in this area are surrounded by unspoilt countryside, great for walking and ideal for those with dogs. The villages of Roujan and Gabian have reasonable property prices and are on the list of places to consider that are up-and-coming.鈥

What are foreign buyers looking for?

鈥淓xpats love the charm and character of the regional architecture. Outside space is a must, a garden or, if they are using it as a pied 脿 terre, a balcony. Those seeking property outside of P茅zenas look for lively vibrant villages, and it鈥檚 the dream to want to be able to walk to a boulangerie and get a baguette 鈥 there鈥檚 just something iconic about carrying a baguette in paper around with you! This is why the region is so perfect – so many villages have been restored and are thriving, largely due to the influx of international buyers.鈥

What can home buyers get for their money?

鈥淧roperties range from small lock up and leave apartments in the centre of P茅zenas, to luxury hidden escapes. Bargain properties can still be found in the region, but you have to be quick and sometimes pay the full asking price. As an example, a charming two-bedroom village house with a large, accessible terrace, completely renovated with some of the best countryside views in the village of Neffi猫s was on our books at 鈧115,000 (2024).鈥

So why should we consider buying here?

鈥淭he H茅rault region of France is still a bit of a secret gem for expats wanting to live in almost year-round sunshine and great for those who want to live near beautiful Mediterranean beaches. The area has effortless style and beautiful provincial landscapes – but without the C么te d鈥橝zure price tags.鈥

See Daniel鈥檚 portfolio of properties:

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