In the seat The further south you go in France, the sunnier the weather becomes, but some regions get much better weather than you’d think, and they might not be quite where you’d expect...
If you asked a group of Brits why they decided to make the leap to France, sunshine would be high on the list. There are no prizes for guessing that Provence-Alpes-Côte d’Azur and Languedoc-Roussillon are the sunniest regions, with an average of 2,724 hours of sunshine per year in Nice, and 2,668 hours in Montpellier. Provence, however, is also the most expensive region and with a little digging, it soon becomes clear that in other parts of France, the sun shines a lot and property prices are much more attractive too. So, if you want sunshine without the price tags and the crowds of the Mediterranean coastline, take a closer look at these regions. In the south-western corner of France, Aquitaine reaches Spain at its southernmost frontier while the Atlantic Ocean stretches along its western coast. It is one of the most diverse regions in France with a landscape that offers everything from sun, sea and sand to forests and verdant countryside. It comprises five departments, covers a land area of 41,308km and with a population of 3,335,134, it has a population density of just 80 people per kilometre. The average for France is 116 per kilometre.
The department of Landes is known for its vast expanses of forest as well as its seaside resorts: Capbreton, Hossegor, Arcachon and Cap Ferrat; while the popular resort of Biarritz in neighbouring Pyrénées-Atlantiques is a haven for surfers. Further south, Saint-Jean-de-Luz ( pictured above) has a lovely harbour and good family beaches.
Its regional capital, Bordeaux, is a World Heritage site and also a Ville d’Art et d’Histoire, a title which has also been attributed to Bayonne, Pau, and Périgueux. There are also numerous medieval villages such as Sarlat-la-Canéda, which has a total of 250 listed buildings – more per square metre than anywhere else in Europe. It's a haven for sports enthusiasts too, offering a wealth of outdoor activities such as golf, paragliding, hiking and rugby, as well as numerous water sports including surfing, sailing, canoeing and kayaking.