“There are those who adore Paris but could think of nothing worse than living in the city center,” reports International Living’s France correspondent, Barbara Diggs.
“Romanticism aside, Paris is a big city—and an intense one, at that. After living here awhile, you start to notice that the streets are endlessly thronged. And most reasonably-priced apartments are about the size of a walk-in closet,” says Diggs, based in Paris.
According to the report, twenty-four minutes from Paris by train sits the city of Versailles, home of the world-famous château. Versailles earns its first mention in recorded history in the 11th century. Back then, it was just a small, prosperous village surrounding a tiny castle and the St. Julien church. But it started to grow in importance when King Louis XIII began buying property in the forests surrounding Versailles.
“Today, Versailles has a prosperity and beauty to rival Paris, yet it is infinitely more tranquil,” says Diggs. With a population of more than 88,000, Paris’s proximity might be a bonus feature rather than a main attraction.
A bright, fully-renovated, 500-square-foot, one-bedroom apartment with a balcony overlooking the château’s park is for sale for $350,000. In a comparable Parisian neighborhood, the same sum would buy a tiny, 230-square-foot studio in a late 20th century building.
Located less than 30 minutes from Paris by train is the small, pretty town of Chantilly.
Tourists come to visit the fairytale-like Château de Chantilly, which houses the largest collection of historical paintings in France outside the Louvre. It also has dazzling parks and gardens on a par with those of Versailles. And the prestigious Chantilly racecourse, which featured in the James Bond film A View to a Kill.
For expats, InternationalLiving.com’s report explains, Chantilly is idyllic in more ways than one. Not only is it beautiful and close to Paris, but it also has a large international community. “Housing prices are high but lower than in Paris,” says Diggs. A renovated two-bedroom apartment of 645 square feet, within walking distance to the train station, costs around $296,000. Rent for renovated two-bedroom apartments starts at $1,200 per month.
The medieval city of Chartres lies in the Eure-et-Loire department of France, about 60 miles southwest of Paris—an hour away by train. “For those seeking to immerse themselves in daily French life and culture, untainted by Parisian glamor, Chartres is a wonderful place to settle,” says Diggs.
Chartres is famous for its stunning 11th-century Gothic cathedral, now a UNESCO World Heritage site.
“Although only an hour from Paris, the cost of living in Chartres is reasonable,” says Diggs.
“A three-course dinner at a nice restaurant costs $18. Real estate prices aren’t bad, either: A renovated, 700-square-foot, one-bedroom apartment is selling for $169,000. A 950-square foot, three-bedroom house within Chartres proper will run about $233,000, but in nearby villages a house of a similar size will cost about $210,000 or less.”
The full report on five places to live affordably, each one hour or less from Paris, which appeared in the December edition of International Living magazine, can be read here: Live Affordably in these Five Towns One Hour from Paris.
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