Where To Find Cheap Properties in France

Where To Find Cheap Properties in France

France is a vast and diverse nation full of affordable properties - from apartments handy for the beach to village houses ripe for a makeover. Alongside its accessibility, wonderful scenery and the laid-back lifestyle, it is currently one of the cheapest places in Europe to borrow money too.

There are three coastlines to choose from, numerous different climates (and microclimates), the Alps and the Pyrenees, vibrant cities and lots of different cultural influences too.

Well narrowing down your search is the first thing, and finding a good agent is another. In France, many of the estate agents are highly localised, with some more well-versed in dealing with the needs of international buyers than others, so the process may be trickier if you are looking in an area where British buyers are a rare breed.

But outside of the towns, cities and holiday areas where the French are investing there are vast swaths of rural France where vendors are eager to sell homes and are very open to negotiation – although the French rediscovered the joys of new areas for teleworking within nature during the pandemic.

France is still the most visited country in the world so if you are one of the increasing number of British buyers looking at the investment side of French properties - can they earn good holiday rental income? - then do research location, airport access and seasonality carefully when choosing your area.

Getting a bargain property in Brittany

A region of north-west France defined by its coastline, Brittany is a wonderful region of rugged bays, fjord-like inlets, towering cliffs and big sandy beaches. Occupying around a third of the shoreline of France, it’s a bit like Cornwall with more sun but lower property prices.

The average property price in Brittany is roughly €150,000 - not bad for a home close to the beach? But there’s an awful lot of choice if your budget is only €100,000 – especially in central Brittany.

There are of course big differences across the region, and those who love the sporty, outdoor lifestyle of the far-most West Finistere tranche, can expect to get a three-bed property for exactly that regional average.

The Cotes d’Armor is also very popular for its beautiful coastline - and with the ferry port of St Malo within its borders, it’s wonderfully easy to access.

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A longere (or long house) is the typical style Breton home - a slate roofed, granite farmhouse - and you can generally get one with three bedrooms for around €150,000, with ones close to the coast more expensive. However, you might also prefer a village house with two or three bedrooms - one that needs renovating can be found for less than €100,000.

Fancy somewhere off the beaten track? Try Glomel, sitting between two lakes, in the Cotes-d’Armor.  It is a good base, with shops, restaurants and water sports, just 10 mins away from Rostrenen which has supermarkets, cinema and many restaurants. If you fancy the beach, you can be on either the north or south coast in just over an hour. Find a four-bedroom house for €130,000. Or take Huelgot and nearby Plonenez-du-Faou, in Finistere and offering easy access to long sandy beaches. In a pretty hamlet you will pay around €90,000 for a renovated bungalow, or €130,000 you can get a beautiful four-bed detached property.

If you want an apartment along the Bay of Saint-Brieuc or Pink Granite coast areas of the Cotes-d’Armor - very popular with tourists - expect to pay around €110,000, although avoid Dinan where prices increase. Go 15km inland and you’ll get a four-bed home for €200,000.


Top Tip

When considering location in this area it’s important to consider access. Most British visitors will arrive by ferry (being able to drive to this part of France is a big part of the appeal) so at journey times from St Malo, Caen, Cherbourg or Roscoff. This is especially important if you are thinking of renting out your home.

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Getting a bargain property in the Languedoc

The Languedoc is the more affordable part of France’s southern coast. A diverse and now vast region (including Roussillion and Pyrenees-Orientales) taking in beaches, national park, medieval castles and mountains, it offers something for everyone - as well as the superb climate and sun-drenched grape varieties of the south.

The average property costs considerably less than that of the next-door PACA region, and less of the traffic and bling! Although the under-populated and northern part - Lozere - is the most affordable, buyers want to be near the coast so Pyrenees-Orientales is the most popular with its mountainous backdrop at Catalan twist. Perpipnan is a vibrant, cosmopolitan town with well-presented two-bed apartments with change from €100k.

The Herault region of vineyards and popular French seaside resorts is popular for good reason. The historic bullfighting town of Beziers is a hot spot about 40 minutes from the coast and lovely to dip into. There you can get a small character village house to renovate for €60,000, or a renovated one for €100k. Prices can be lower in the Aude - whilst the fortified town of Carcassonne is relatively expensive, Narbonne is a fantastic town too, but look for the outlying villages for better value - a three-bed house in the buzzy town of Quillan can be found for €100,000.

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The historic town of Pézenas is a perfect base from which you are within an hour’s drive of the Cap d'Agde area of golden sandy beaches, the Languedoc Regional Parc, or the city of Montpellier.” Béziers airport is 30 minutes away. In the town you can find a small house for €115k, but check out the villages around – such as Cazouls d'Herault, Caux, Tourbes - for a house for £100k.

Top tip

Consider seasonality if you are buying in a coastal spot. French seaside resorts here are buzzy in the summer, but some can be quite dead in winter unless they have cultural offerings or other attractions. Are you looking for peak summer holiday rental income? Or do you look inland to the mountains where biking/outdoor activities are now such a draw for active families or couples?

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Getting a bargain property in Poitou-Charentes

This tempting chunk of south-west France still represents great value.  This is a region saturated with wonderful street markets, gastronomic delights and pretty villages, with a sun-drenched micro-climate in its western, coastal stretch, the Charente-Maritime.

Prices in this mostly rural region are historically amongst the lowest in France. An average property price of below €200,000 masks great extremes - lowest in the Deux-Sevres and Charente, and particularly high around La RochelleRoyan and the chic Ile-de-Re where Parisians head in summer every year. Think about access too - this region is about the southernmost part of France that it’s practical to drive to from the UK, and there’s also great Eurostar /TGV access to Angouleme La Rochelle, Limoges and Poitiers offer access via low-cost flights.

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If you want the sea within easy reach, consider locations just half an hour to 45 minutes behind the coast for great value. Check out Ruffec, a market town surrounded by forests further inland but brilliantly located on the autoroute between Angouleme and Poitiers - there you can get a choice of detached stone houses for €150,000, although many examples of smaller homes for well under €100,000, and fixer-uppers for less than €80,000.


Top tip

Consider taking the ferry from Portsmouth across to Caen, St Malo or Le Havre, it's an easy motorway drove of between 4-5 hours. You'll pay toll fees on the motorway but their service stations – aires - are much nicer stop-offs than British versions, with outdoor picnic and play areas (ideal for dog-owners too). 

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Getting a bargain property in Limousin

The rural centre of France offers some of the best bargains in the country and you don't get much more central than the Limousin, or more rural! It's just got one major urban area - Limoges - and a relatively sparse population.

But, you guessed it, there’s remarkable value for money, especially in the Creuse department, where you can buy a four-bed detached house for €90,000!  Or check out Bourganeuf, with its attractive old town founded in mediaeval times by the Knights Hospitaller, where you can find properties from €45,000. It’s also only an hour from Limoges airport.

Prices rise in the Haute-Vienne if you are close to the bustling hub of Limoges, but have a look at Sussac, where you can find some characterful properties. The medieval market town of Bellac has become a hot spot with bargain hunters with its artisan shops and restaurants. Reached by TGV from Paris in under three hours, or 38 minutes to Limoges, from which there are flights to the UK, or Poitiers. Expect to find a lot of choice for €100k-€120k.

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As mentioned above, Creuse is fertile for cheap homes from €40,000 but do look at locations in the Haute-Vienne such as the delightful village of Saint-Germain-les-Belles where you can get pretty stone-built village homes from €50,000 to €100,000.


Top tip     

Think about location - as ever, in rural France! In the south-west, the region borders the Dordogne; the river Dordogne itself cuts through. If you are an active family, would it make sense to be close to the upper Dordogne valley - for water sports such as sailing on the artificial lakes and kayaking?

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Getting a bargain property in the Dordogne

With its dozens of pretty villages, fantastic cuisine and fantastic village markets, the Dordogne remains a perennial favourite with British buyers. Like Brittany, the fact you can throw all your stuff in the car and drive down there makes it popular with families, along with the outdoor activities on offer. Property prices are much lower than the coastal parts of the Aquitaine region (Bordeaux down to Biarritz) but they can rise around inland hot spots such as Bergerac and Sarlat.

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Look to the north Dordogne to find better value. The Perigord-Limousin regional natural park, that straddles two departments, are quintessential traditional France, such as the town of Brantôme, and canoeing on the River Dronne: around 40 minutes from Limoges airport.

The lifestyle is rural, laid-back, with lots of outdoor living: Piégut-Pluviers is a good base: it’s famous for its ancient Wednesday market selling organic produce. You will pay around €95,000 for a two-bedroom renovated village property with garden or €115,000 for a three-bedroom home near to a town. But have a real hunt around the smaller villages near popular towns. For example, close to the attractive bastide town of Saint-Aulaye in the north of the Dordogne - near Aubeterre-Sur-Dronne and Riberac - you can get a four-bedroom house in need of a refresh for €150,000.


Top tip

If you want to rent out your property, try to set yours above the competition in terms of location, decor and ‘extras’ on offer. So think good linens, quality furniture, nice tableware and thorough cleaning between guests. Welcome guests with a gift of tasty local produce - something the region is famed for.

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Liz Rowlinson