I spent more than a week in the Upper Aude Valley. That week was a whirl wind of experiences, new places, interesting people and a large number of homes for sale varying from very bad to good potential.
Which one is better – Quillan or Limoux?
There are plenty villages in this valley – the main ones being Limoux and Quillan. Limoux is just over 20 km from Carcassonne and Quillan over 50. While I was there and hopped between both I noticed a hefty competition between the 2 places.
Both villages have good and bad qualities and I am kind of torn between the two with the result that I need some time to reflect, re-think and digest all the secrets I have been told.
Comparing them is actually weird as they differ substantially: as a matter of fact they vary in size and offer very different attractions. A little birdie told me that Limoux is trying to get away with promoting some of Quillan’s attractions as their own!
Both have great central squares called Place de la Republique with a number of bars and terraces – perfect places to think while sipping ‘une verre de Rose’
I am travelling by myself and apart from my friend Kathleen’s visit to Quillan, it is just me until my husband Keith and youngest daughter Zoe join me this month in Paris. I have met some great characters from different nationalities – a lot of them Brits and Dutch people who have settled here during the last 15 years.
I even met some nice French people, quite hard not to as I am in France after all. They have been welcoming, start to speak slower French straight away and are intrigued that I came all the way from Australia with the intention to buy a house in France. They really can’t understand why as they all want to get rid of their houses especially the old, un-renovated, dark places with old ‘époque’ characteristics. They hate those features and hide them under layers of wallpaper, paint in screaming colours and linoleum.
Many French, especially the young ones, aspire to move to Down Under as the wages there are a lot higher. I actually like to see their faces when they have to pay 12 dollar for a glass of wine. A 16-17 year old in Australia has to work approximately an hour for that amount. I wonder how that is in France. A glass of wine can cost as little as 1.50 Euro in this area. A 16 year old can possibly not earn that little here or do they?
Quillan – an ugly duckling?
I like Quillan but it certainly wasn’t love on first sight. I arrived on Ascension day which is a public holiday in France. Public holidays are taken very seriously in France and apart from drunks and expats you don’t see anyone.
It was cold and I was seriously asking myself what the hell I was going to be doing for 4 days in that place and even worse entertain a visitor. The streets were deserted, a large number of houses looked like slums, many were for sale and the majority of shops had been closed down and had ‘a vendre’ or ‘a louer’ signs in the window.
My first impression was far from good. I had a coffee in a local bar, the only one that was open and I got a coffee made by an 80 year old lady. The result made my mood even gloomier. The owner from the bar pointed out where my Chambre d’hote was. I walked around the block but I couldn’t find it. The guy of the bar actually showed me and begged me to pass on to the owner that it needs a sign!
My Chambre d’ hote on the other hand was fantastic: Guy, the owner was very interesting. That night I had a yummy pizza in the only restaurant that was open in Quillan. Clever people, I say as it was absolutely packed an I was lucky I came a bit early. I had a dream of a ‘four cheeses’ pizza – straight from Italy and at least 1000 calories!
Limoux- the big sister
Limoux is 3 times the size of Quillan and obviously offers more opportunities to make money. Practically it would make sense to buy a house in Limoux. Also interesting is that Carcassonne, a nearby town is, apart from the historic centre la Citee, not very appealing and people are seeking other options. Limoux, being only 20 km away, is an immediate option so there is a chance that it may grow and push the prices up. That could be good or bad, good for investing, not so good maybe for the charm of the town.
Talking to people about the advantages and disadvantages of either town is confusing. It is also simple as people from Limoux don’t think much of Quillan while people from Quillan don’t like Limoux. The same competition is alive amongst ex-pats as well. I decided to google it and found a 5 page debate about the reasons why one is better than the other. So I am definitely not the only confused one!
Reading those comments kind of validated my confusion but it did not make the quest easier. The tricky thing is that I have found suitable houses to buy in either towns, both in a good state and each one attractive for letting out.
I suppose the best is to wait for Keith to arrive, see the best houses again and brainstorm options.