For a few weeks British second-home owners – along with a few estate agents in France – were filled with confidence that an amendment to the French Immigration Bill might mean a relaxation of the 90-day rule.
In November the amendment - which proposed that British people who have their main home in the UK the right to longer stays than 90 days in a rolling 180 – without getting a visa was voted through the first stages of the legal process.
Yet despite some newspaper reports to the contrary, it was never a certainty – President Emmanuel Macron’s government did not back the amendment - and this week it was dismissed by the Constitutional Council.
"There are still things we can do"
It is indeed a blow but will not stop those campaigning for a change to the rules. Says Christopher David, 70, a second-home owner from Cardiff who has a home near Angouleme in the Charente: “As it stands we fight on. There are still things we can do.”
The France Visa Free Facebook group is at the forefront of this fight and has 36 French deputies on its side. For Christopher, and his partner Jane, it will mean renewing their annual French visa again to enjoy the eight months a year in France. With a daughter living in Bordeaux, the semi-retired businessman volunteers locally and has been very involved with the community since buying a home there in 2011.
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Yet he says he has been in a quandary about the future, which has not been removed with this set-back. “It’s too early to sell up, and it’ll be a very last resort anyway,” he says, adding that he has several friends out there that are also hanging on for change. Besides he’s just bought a convertible to make the most of the better climate in France, which will be ‘no good in Wales’.
Since Brexit, homeowners cannot spend more than three months at a time at their French homes without applying for a visa: this is not a complicated process, but one that many British second-home owners (and prospective buyers) would love to see the back of.