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Mortain Area - your Opinions/Views?

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Hello Everyone! Bonjour!

We are in the beginning stages of our house/property search, so please bear with us as we ask loads of questions....

We would really appreciate "hearing" your opinions about the Mortain area from those who live there, or reasonably close. We have found a potential property that looks good on paper, but would trust first-hand opinions before treking across the channel for a viewing.

Which port is best for travel to the area? Caen, Le Havre, St. Malo?

Is there a weekly market?

Distance to mod-cons; e.g. Super Marche's?

Weather? Is it similar to southern England? Or is it more sun than gloom? (sorry, but ned to ask)

How long have you lived, or owned property, in the area?a. And, are you happy that you chose the area?

I think that should get some dialog started....

Many thanks in advance!

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Caen and St Malo are approximately the same distance in time - 1 hr 20 / 1 hr 30. Le Havre is about an hour further. Flights into Rennes and Dinard which are both about 1 hour 30 / 1 hr 45 away.

Beautiful area, nicer in the hills than in the valleys - imo.

Great beaches between Avranches and Granville - approx 50 minutes away.

Lots of British people - and a fair few Dutch and Germans in the area.

There is a weekly market in Mortain - Saturdays - it's not exciting! But there are good markets at Sourdeval and Villedieu les Poêles (Tuesdays) St Hilaire du Harcouët (Wednesdays) and Vire (Fridays). And markets to the south and east too but I'm 15 mins north west of Mortain so don't know south and east so well.

Mortain itself is a grey little town by virtue of the fact that - like many of the towns and villages around here - it suffered substantial damage during the months after D-Day as the Allied armies defended the area against several Panzer divisions trying to take back ground. Google Mortain Counter Offensive for more info if of interest. It was re-built speedily to provide commerce accommodation and aesthetics weren't the first thing on their minds.

There's a Carrefour (smallish) and an Aldi. There are boulangeries, traiteurs, boucheries, etc in the town. There's an open air swimming pool - during summer only I think.

There are plenty of associations, clubs and "stuff" going on in the area, some Anglo-French, some Anglo and, of course, plenty of French activities to which any other nationalities are welcome.

Weather is similar to Devon and Cornwall. Located at the end of the baie de Mont St Michel valley, it may be a bit more prone to mists and rain than other areas but that's an impression, not fact. Temperature a few degrees warmer in summer than southern England; winters possibly a few degrees colder (beginning to be influenced by the land mass of France rather than the maritime climate enjoyed further north).

I love valleys, hills and woods: I've seen no area of Normandy in which I'd rather live. PM me if you want more info.


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We have a second home just over 6 miles NW of Mortain and spend every summer there. We love the area for all the reasons Catalpa expresses and are so glad we found it.  If you want guaranteed sun all summer don't buy in southern Manche, but if you want a beautiful, peaceful area, with lots of history, enough to do and easy access from the UK, I don't think it can be bettered.  We always travel Portsmouth to Caen and the journey from the port to our house is well under 2 hours, even in our slow and overloaded camper van. [:)]

Happy house-hunting.

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When I was describing the area last night, I forgot to mention that if you are looking "in the area" as opposed to in the town itself, beware of the new line of THT (high tension) electricity pylons that are due to march down la Manche within the next few years. If you are looking to the west of Mortain, check with each Mairie whether the commune will be affected by the ligne THT. You can ask the question of the estate agents and notaires too but they will not provide the information unasked as you would expect searches to do in England.

Official site + maps

There's a list here of all the communes affected: ligne THT communes

Some of the signs that will alert you if you see them in the local countryside: THT signs and maps

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Thank you both for such great information.  Very helpful...  and has pretty much sealed the decision as to the area we want to buy in, and ultimately retire.

Also, thank you VERY much for the information about the upcoming power lines....  Whoa!!!!   I had no idea that was coming.   That map from their website will be taken with us to show estate agents whilst we are looking.

We had originally decided we wanted to live near Cognac & Jarnac; but have reconsidered due to the logistics of getting there....  Would be great once we didn't have to travel back and forth to the UK; and was chosen primarily because of the weather (we both ride Harley's).

Again, many thanks!


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Don't be in a rush to buy and drive a hard bargain, as in the opinion of many French property experts, we are only half way through a six year downward price correction on French rural property. There is a lot of property for sale in Brittanny/Normandy and the situation is deteriorating, with French banks tightening up on lending over the last quarter due to the Eurozone crisis.

Also if you need to sell £ to raise Euros, in all likelihood the exchange rate will improve in the next two years to around 1.28, so time is on your side.

I find the weather in the region too British, in that Winters are long, damp and cold and Summers in recent years have been a bit hit and miss.
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If you're not totally sold on this area because you already know it, you could also look a bit further south - perhaps around Mayenne. For the small distance involved, there is a difference in weather - ime spring arrives about 3 weeks earlier and though winters can be a bit colder, they're likely to be a bit shorter and brighter. I'm guessing it would only add about 30 minutes to journeys to / from ports and you have Rennes airport about 90 minutes away.

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