Pas De Calais – the Golden Triangle?
When we bought our first house in the Pas De Calais, just a mile or two from the site of the Battle of Agincourt, we could reach it in 3 hours by car from our home in Central London. It was this arbitrary limit on travelling time that defined our search area in the first place, and we congratulated ourselves many times on the decision, as it made it possible for us to spend almost every weekend in France, starting late enough on Friday evenings to take an off-peak rate shuttle yet still arriving at our house before French midnight.
The nearness of the Pas De Calais to the most densely populated and richest part of Great Britain was an advantage to us then, and it remains an advantage now, even though we long ago left London to settle permanently here. Though the clientele for the holiday gite business we established came from all over Britain, the majority were from the South-East, and it was equally this region that provided almost all our useful out-of-season short break business – the icing on the cake for holiday landlords.
Statistically the Pas De Calais is one of France’s poorer regions, so prices here tend to be lower than in other more traditionally touristic areas of France. It’s a stroke of great luck (for homeowners and gite landlords, at least) that such an affordable region of France should be situated so close to much of Europe’s most expensive real estate, not only in England’s overcrowded South-East, but also in Brussels (2h20m drive), Paris (2h20m), Rotterdam (3h40m), Luxembourg (4h), and even Cologne and Dusseldorf (4h20m).
New high speed rail links from Germany and Holland to the Channel Tunnel are expected to be developed soon, bringing the region even closer to the richest cities in Europe.
This means not only that we have a vast and rich market to exploit, right here on our doorstep, but also, in the longer term, that every euro invested in our homes and holiday properties stands a good chance of being repaid with interest when, in the fullness of time, and perhaps with retirement in mind, we put up the “For Sale” signs.
These, anyway, are the thoughts and prayers that have comforted me and helped me get off to sleep during these days of Gordon-Brown-assisted recession and, hopefully, economic recovery.