Ask anyone in the sleepy Tarn area of France about Toulouse and they’ll tell you they’re extremely proud to live so near to such a buzzy, modern city. The immediate countryside surrounding Toulouse is very quiet and agricultural but for those who still like to live within easy reach of good shops and nightlife, proximity to the city is a big bonus. Toulouse is the fourth largest city in France after Paris, Marseille and Lille, and the gateway to four hugely different areas as well as being a destination in its own right.  

It’s extremely cosmopolitan: many British, Italian and German business work there and jobs are plentiful and demand skilled workers from all over the world, particularly Airbus which has based its operations there, and as a result its international school operates at an extremely high standard. Shops, bars, hotels and cafes rival Paris in almost every respect, catering for this demanding clientele.

In terms of property some of the most sought-after houses are the large hôtel particulier properties – wonderful and very grand townhouses with outdoor space located in inner courtyards and on terraces. These have for the most part now been converted into luxury apartments which sell for between €4,000-5,000 per sq m – add a roof terrace and parking and prices can shoot up to €6,000 per sq m and it’s still only 15 minutes by car to the countryside.

Historic hôtel particulier in the heart of Toulouse

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Located behind a magnificent listed facade dating from 1556 this wonderful one/two bedroom apartment offers over 140sq m of living space and an outstanding roof terrace with views out over the roofs and spires of the historic city.  

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Situated on the top floor the apartment is accessed by a charming stone and brick spiral staircase.
€750 000; Jonathan Charles; +33 (0)6 09 72 37 04.

Similar prices are commanded by new build programmes on the outskirts of the city which are also of a very high quality and appeal more to the French taste for more modern properties, but prices are still considerably lower than those in Aix although they have comfortably doubled in the past 15 years.

The ringroad forms a border around what is thought of as the city and lots of surrounding villages have been subsumed into the suburbs – Pibrac and Colomiers are close to Airbus and home to many international families.

As a centre for trade between the Dordogne and the Mediterranean since the 16th century; strategically important through the Napoleonic period and more recently a cultural centre Toulouse continues to boom: young people are drawn there for its multiple charms. With a metropolitan centre of more than 1 million people it’s a force to be reckoned with and the property market remains fluid.

Outside the city the road networks have vastly improved which means if you’re not after a central apartment it’s still possible to live in the countryside and commute into work – you can live 40km from the city centre and be at work in half an hour and heading north the autoroute now also goes straight up to Paris.

Toulouse is such a well-placed city for wherever you’re going in France: the autoroute goes all the way up to Paris in the north; to the north east are Albi and the sleepy villages of the Tarn; to the east is the Mediterranean and south east Barcelona; West of Toulouse are Bordeaux and Biarritz.

It’s also a one of the easiest cities to reach in Europe and is served by all the main airlines. At least that’s what when property owner Alasdair Sutherland and his wife discovered when they bought their mas (now on the market for €1.495m) just 35 minutes’ drive from the city. They spent twenty years renovating the house to an exacting standard, as well as converting a barn and a cow shed into guesthouses which now run as very successful businesses (www.houseonthehill.fr).

During the period they were working on the house, Alasdair spent ten years travelling across Europe for work while his wife was working for a French company but based in London. They both found that travelling to Toulouse was so easy they would often convene in their French house to relax after a week of work rather than returning to London – it was usually a more convenient place to meet.

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The couple have loved the house for decades and are extremely proud of the work they’ve done on the property but, having enjoyed the splendid and incredibly peaceful location, they’re now in the market for more sociable property in Italy, where they can walk everywhere without having to drive. Find out more about the property at www.toulousecountryhousesale.com.

Countryside properties for sale near Toulouse

Fully restored traditional farmhouse of 420 sq mts.

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This fully restored farmhouse 30 minutes from Toulouse has spectacular views to the Pyrenees. With five bedrooms, three bathrooms, drawing room, dining room, and study, and a stunning kitchen/ breakfast room this period property would be a perfect second home.

Outside are the pool, and an outbuilding complete with its original bread oven. €890 000. Jonathan Charles has some houses here. www.jonathancharles.co.uk +33 (0)6 09 72 37 04.

Old Priory in the Haute Garonne

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A magnificent old Priory dating from the end of the 16th century which has fully restored in keeping with its historical origins. The U-shaped property has a habitable area of 500 m2 and stands in a delightful garden of 1,150 m2 with a courtyard shaded by trees, a terrace and a swimming pool.

The property is peacefully situated next to the church in a charming hilltop village to the east of Toulouse, with easy access both to the centre of the city and to the airport in less than 30 mins.

€1.3m. For further information please contact Jonathan Charles: www.jonathancharles.co.uk; +33 (0)6 09 72 37 04.

Gascony Estate

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An exceptional estate set within rolling hills and surrounded by its own woodland,this property comprises three distinct buildings, the main residence with guardian’s apartment, a four-bedroom guest cottage and a two-roomed studio.

The house has nine bedrooms,six bathrooms, two receptions and a swimming pool.

All buildings have been the subject of a skilful and high grade conversion to elegant yet informal living. The grounds have been expertly laid out and include a wealth of plantings to give colour year round. 3kms to a bastide market village, and Toulouse airport is just 50 minutes.

€1,790,000; www.knightfrank.co.uk; 0207 629 8171