Herault – Department 34
It wasn’t really until the 1980’s that Herault became a popular destination for the discerning traveller and expat home owner. It’s astounding that it took so long for people to realise just how perfect this department is, with its mild climate, 300 days of sunshine, miles of golden sandy beaches, salt water lakes, inland gorges, mountains, river beaches, field after field of vineyards, olive groves, the Canal du Midi and picturesque towns and villages.
There’s also something about the rhythm of the seasons that you feel when you live in Herault. I used to love watching the vines go from looking like wizened old men through the winter, to showing tiny bright green shoots in April and what felt like overnight, by May were thick and bushy with lush green leaves. I’d then watch as the tiny dots of green grew and grew through the summer turning ever darker, until by September they were a rich purple black and literally dripping off the vines. Then we’d have the grape harvest and the department would be buzzing with tractors piled high with their valuable cargo, portable bottling plants appearing in the most bizarre of places and the air would be thick with the sticky sweet smell of wine making. Even the roads would be stained purple.
Herault consists of a fabulously diverse landscape, from the flat coastal plains and salt water lakes (Etangs) around Sete, Cap d’Agde, Meze and Marseillan, to the dramatic gorges of Herault and Heric, with vineyards and olive groves filling in the gaps in between.
Montpellier, the magnificent capital city of Herault and the 8th largest city in France, really does live up to it’s reputation as the Paris of the south; with it’s plane tree lined boulevards, elegant buildings, wine bars, chic boutiques, fabulous restaurants, state of the art tramline. It even has it’s own Arc de Triomphe …. All this and you’re just a few minutes from Montpelliers very own beaches. Little wonder that it’s one of the fastest growing towns in France, with property prices to match.
Population: 257,000 by 2010 (compared to 207,000 in 1990)
Beziers town is bordered on three sides by the river Orb and the Canal du Midi. This is a town for the locals and whilst it has plenty of shops, bars and a vibrant café culture it’s not on the tourist trail. This makes Beziers a great place to visit if you want to experience the charm of town living, in what can only be described as the real Languedoc. No hoards of tourists, just great markets (with the flower market on Fridays being definitely worth a visit), some lovely restaurants tucked down little side streets that you have to route out, the stunning cathedral which can be seen from miles around and the Canal du midi.
Another very ‘real Languedoc’ aspect of Beziers is the 4 day Ferria in August when the town goes a little bull crazy and basically doesn’t sleep for the duration of the festival. Then it’s back to business as usual of being charming old Beziers once more.
Pezenas is a vibrant medieval town, Pezenas was formerly the capital of the Languedoc. It’s past means that it’s a sophisticated town with cobbled streets, pretty little squares, fabulous shops and restaurants and stunning architecture. It’s certainly a town where you’ll want to take your camera. There’s also a huge market on Thursdays and Saturdays spanning the length of the main boulevard, which is a food lovers paradise.
Herault property market overview
Herault has the most expensive property prices of the 5 Languedoc department with the average running at around €2,841/sq m for an apartment and €2,325/sq m for a house. However, this varies dramatically depending on the specific location you’re interested in, with Montpellier at around €3,000 /sq m but Beziers as an example being far lower at around €1,800/ sq m.
Car: Over the past few years and going on for a few more there’s been an ambitious road network project, linking the A75 with the A9 at Beziers. This will not only make getting to and from this department far easier than it ever has been, it also diverts the heavy summer traffic away from the small towns and village of the old route, meaning peace and tranquility will be restored in these villages all year round.
Air:Living in Herault means you’re never more than 1 hour to an international airport, especially now Ryanair now have routes to Beziers. Then there’s also the larger airports of Carcassonne and Montpellier too, both easy to get to from pretty much anywhere in Herault.
SNCF train stations in Herault
Average income: €18,000
Teraine: mountains, gorges, vineyards, Mediterranean.
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