Instead I'll tell you about our bike trip around Montpellier looking at the different quartiers. My DB is half-heartedly thinking about buying an apartment to live in but, despite living here for about six years, knows nothing about the city.
|La Paillade (a priority security zone...)|
When I first came to Montpellier, there were hardly any gated apartment communities. Now, most are; the only ones not are the tattier blocks of social housing (HLM). Obviously all this wonderful social mixing has led to an increase in feelings of insecurity, backed by statistics of increasing crime (especially burglary and vols à l'arraché -'grab theft'), and every man and his dog is locking himself away. Some of the remaining houses even have bars on every window, top and bottom. Must be peaceful living in prison...
One estate agent told us that a whopping 80% of apartments are rented (lots of students) and only 20% are owner-occupied. Is this the result of all those enticing tax-deductible programmes that various governments have implemented over the years to encourage the buy-to-let market? Yet, there is a shortage of housing, especially social housing.
I read that ten people arrive in Montpellier every day. However, new building programmes are collapsing and 55% of those that have planning permission are on hold because of the crisis. When building promoters start a building project, the government imposes 20% social housing into the total number of residences. So, if they build a block of 100 flats, 20 of them have to be HLM. In Montpellier, the number of HLM is 30.
So who pays? During the elections, I learned that it is private buyers who finance the HLM. They pay more for their square metres to cover the cost of the HLM. It may not be a coincidence, in that case, that buying a place to live is more expensive in Montpellier than elsewhere. You get fewer square metres for your money on average (35.3m² to 38.2m² in new-builds) than in the top ten French towns.
After visiting Celleneuve, La Chamberte, Mas Drevon, Croix d'Argent, Estanove, Alco and La Martelle, my DB decided that he does not want to live in Montpellier itself. High prices, high insecurity, noise and traffic don't make it an appealing idea.
Where I live, outside the city, we do not lock ourselves away behind solid metal barriers, the population is homogeneous and it's a little corner of peaceful paradise. But I also pay an arm and a leg on rent, and will continue to do so until my boys leave home. Peace and quiet comes at a price unfortunately.
From what you have written, the short answer is "No"!ReplyDelete
Me neither, Susie!Delete
When we moved down to Montpellier, we took one look at the price of houses and decided that we wouldn't put so much money into living in a noisy, insecure environment, even if we had it. There are a couple of neighbourhoods that we liked, but the cost was extortionate. So we bought a property half and hour away from the metropolis, and PF takes the bus to work and back every day. I wake up to the sound of birds and my neighbor's poultry population, and my retired neighbors are the best security system out.ReplyDelete
Sounds a much better plan, and it also sounds like you have a better bus service than where I live (not difficult)!Delete
It sounds truly ghastly!ReplyDelete
And we think we have problems in San Jose!
Visiting the city is fine, living in it is another matter!Delete
nope why with all the picturesque places in the South of France would you live in somewhere that looks like BasildonReplyDelete
Indeed, David, although the centre of town is lovely, but a nightmare if you have a car and work outside the city. If your life is in town, you get a beautiful medieval city to enjoy and no room to build HLM. :)Delete
And here I'm thinking Montpiellier is a quaint little city in France. Time to scratch that from my list of cities to visit. But you're going to find similar situations in just about every major city. I'm shocked to hear about the high rate of crime. That's pretty significant.ReplyDelete
It's a lovely place to visit because you stay in the centre which is very beautiful. It's living in the suburbs that's the problem.Delete
From what you've written the answer is a definite No, Sarah. I'm not a city person, other than for short and action-packed visits, preferring, like you, the peace and beauty of the countryside. i hope your DB can find something to suit him.ReplyDelete
He's looking outside the city now. I like going into the city for entertainment, and then coming out again. :)Delete
what a shame! For absolutely no reason that I can think of, I've always had quite a romantic impression of Montpellier....how wrong can I be?!?!ReplyDelete
The centre of town is lovely - medieval sand-coloured stone buildings, and narrow lanes. It's the outskirts that are not so lovely...Delete
It's really sad because Montpellier is such a fantastic city.x.ReplyDelete
The centre is lovely, most of the rest is not. :(Delete