Brive Airport

An update on Brive Airport (Brive Vallée de la Dordogne Airport) in France

Ever increasing travel opportunities in France

Fortunately for those of us who have moved to live in France, or who own holiday property in France, there is an ever expanding network of travel possibilities making it easier than ever to get to France from the UK (French Connections). The TGV is constantly opening or planning new routes, there are excellent and ever improving auto routes and routes nationales, and more and more airports are opening or adding new routes and airlines to their services.

Brive Vallée de la Dordogne Airport

One such development that has taken much planning, is the airport in the Corrèze department (Corrèze Property Guide) of southern central France called Brive Vallée de la Dordogne Airport. Lying south of Brive-la-Gaillarde or Brive (Brive-la-Gaillarde Property Guide) and just fifteen kilometres from the town of Souillac, services started here in July 2010. There was already an airport at Brive to the west of the town, but this was very small and offering domestic flights only. The newer Brive Vallée de la Dordogne Airport was going to be important not only in terms of providing convenient flights for those who already own property in the area, but it would almost certainly have an impact on the property market and affect the decisions of those who were considering buying property in central France. It was also likely to make a difference to the tourist trade in the area.

Brive Vallée de la Dordogne Airport is in a great location

The airport certainly has a great location, being set south of the town of Brive-la-Gaillard, on the main A20 road between Paris (Paris Property Guide) and Toulouse (Toulouse Property Guide), and close to the A89 road that links Clermont Ferrand (Clermont-Ferrand Property Guide) to Bordeaux (Bordeaux Property Guide). This was bound to improve its popularity with people heading for various destinations within the region. It would also be of benefit to those visiting or living in the Lot department (Lot Property Guide), who currently have to use Rodez, Toulouse or Limoges airports, as well as to those visiting or living in the Dordogne department. Meanwhile the considerable number of British living or owning a holiday home in Souillac would be especially pleased no doubt.

Controversy surrounding Brive Vallée de la Dordogne Airport in France

There was a certain amount of controversy surrounding the decision to build Brive Vallée de la Dordogne Airport, for although easier transport from the UK was welcomed by many, there were also those who found themselves living on the new flight paths and close to the site. They would of course, suffer any nuisance noise or increase in traffic on their roads, and obviously not all of those thus affected saw the move as good idea.

Did Brive need a new airport?

There were also those who were wary of this rapid expansion in the number of airports being opened in France, and there seems to be a legitimate question to be asked regarding this. How many small airports can a region sustain? Already there are two airports not far from Brive that offer flights from the UK. These are at Bergerac (Bergerac Property Guide) and Rodez (Rodez Property Guide).

Brive Vallée de la Dordogne Airport was shrouded in myth and magic

Perhaps due to the lack of concrete information regarding the progress of this project, and definitive planned outcomes, the whole issue appeared to be shrouded in myth and magic, with much speculation among those most likely to be affected. Plans changed numerous times over the course of the last few years, with the projected opening for business in 2007 being set back to 2009... and then 2010. The fact that even the airport's official website gave little away in terms of progress reports added to the uncertainty and the feeling that there was something going on! Some even considered the possibility that the airport would not, in fact open for business at all.

Difficulties with Brive Vallée de la Dordogne Airport

Certainly, the construction and plans of the airport hit some difficulties. Having done the groundwork for the airport, the authorities found themselves short of money, and work was held up resulting in the failure to meet the planned opening in 2007. At first the new date was set at 2008, although this then changed again. Work then recommenced, with the development definitely going ahead, although it was difficult if not impossible to put a date on the likely completion of the project. The best case scenario was sometime in 2009, assuming there were no further major setbacks, but this was then extended to 2010.

Butterflies at Brive Vallée de la Dordogne Airport

Yes, really, a rare breed of butterfly has been another problem that has caused headaches for the planners. Close to the airport site a rare species of butterfly has a breeding ground, and in order to protect these insects, the airport has had to agree to the following terms:

No night flights
No freight flights.

So Brive Vallée de la Dordogne Airport can be said to be an environmentally conscious airport... at least in that respect!

Airlines servicing Brive Vallée de la Dordogne Airport

And having overcome all the issues, Brive Airport opened its doors in 2010. So which airlines are using Brive Airport now? Currently, Ryanair is operating a service between London Stansted Airport and Brive Vallée de la Dordogne Airport, with HOP operating services to Paris Orly. It remains to be seen whether other airlines will join them. Places to watch for information include the airport's site (http://www.aeroport-brive-vallee-dordogne.com/), as well as City Jet and easyJet sites. (City Jet did provide a service for a while, but this has been withdrawn.)

Brive Airport is popular with Brits

The airport at Brive is a hit with many British ex-pats and holiday home owners. Anything that makes travelling easier is a boon, especially for those who have to make frequent journeys to and from the UK. Those with gîtes (Owning Gîtes and Chambres D'Hotes (B&Bs) in France, Gites for sale) and commercial enterprises in the area will also be watching out for new airlines servicing the airport.

So what does all this mean for the property market?

Any new airport, TGV route or auto route is likely to impact on the property market in the region. Not only does it attract investment in property from those who want to live in France permanently but need easy access to the UK for return trips (and for friends and relatives to visit), but it also has a huge effect on those who want to purchase a holiday home, or a buy to let property.

Tourism and business should improve

Tourism should see an increase, with the knock on effect that other commercial property becomes more financially viable, and values will rise. Those considering, for example, the purchase of a house with a fishing lake (French Properties with Lakes) and/or a caravan site or campsite (Buying a campsite in France), will be more likely to choose a property within reach of good transport links such as this airport, knowing that the tourists will be able to get easy access to the area. Business in general tends to improve, as transport is vital for a healthy enterprise.

Investing just because of Brive Vallée de la Dordogne Airport

However, the difficulties and delays that have affected Brive Vallée de la Dordogne Airport to date mean that it could be unwise to make a major investment in the area based solely on the possible services to be provided by the airport. If you are already considering a property in the area close to Brive or Souillac sur Dordogne, by all means go ahead, as even if the desired services did not come to fruition for some time, there remain two other airports within reasonable travelling distance. The Corrèze and the Lot are wonderful departments, and there are some of the best property bargains in France to be had there.

A word of caution

It does, however, always pay to be cautious, as there have been occurrences regarding airports in France in the past that provide cautionary tales. Pau (Pau Property Guide) in south-west France is a case in point. Here Ryanair pulled out for a time at the last minute, leaving some with their fingers burned. These were the people who had speculated on property in the locality purely on the premise that the services provided by Ryanair would raise values. Luckily for them however, Ryanair resumed a service.

Property buyers in France should consider all factors

When buying property, especially if it is important that it increases in value quite quickly, you should always consider the bigger picture, and look at all the factors involved. TGV routes and auto routes can prove a greater boost to property prices than airports and airline services, as they tend to be harder to move and therefore are more stable influences.

Additional articles which may be of interest:

Travel France
Life in France
Brits in France

About the author

Joanna Simm moved to the Languedoc area of south-west France in October 2004 having found her property through French Property Links.

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