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Property in France

For the British, buying a house in France has always been the most popular choice for an overseas property: easy to reach by car, often surprisingly affordable and fun to rediscover your school French.

Worth noting too, is the range of environments to choose from. There is some of the world’s best skiing in the French Alps, with all the other adventurous activities that mountains offer. There is the wild Atlantic coast, the cote sauvage, or the gentle seaside towns of the north in Normandy and Brittany.

And of course there is the famous glitz of southern of France. We may love to hate the EU’s Common Agricultural Policy, but it’s helped keep the French countryside in the hands of small-time farmers who have preserved it (and its huge range of wines and cheeses!).

France never really became a place to buy investment property, which helped prevent over development. Moreover, the overseas newcomers – generally – have not tried to turn France into a corner of Essex or Dusseldorf. France is where you come to enjoy yourself, in a French way.

Because the British have been buying homes in France for so long, the processes of buying and owning are easy. There are many English-speaking estate agents, as well as builders and other property professionals you might need.

Where to Buy Property in France

The south-west of France tends to be one of the most popular areas, for its climate, cuisine and beautiful countryside peppered with charming bastide towns or villages.

The Dordogne, in the Aquitaine region, is always a favourite with UK buyers and prices have fallen by as much as 50 per cent. Bijou village houses go from under €100,000 and three-bedroom family houses with good-sized gardens for €200,000.

Don’t be shy about haggling as many homes have been languishing on the market for a good couple of years. The Lot-et--Garonne is a similar scenario.

The market in Gascony is a little bit more lively, and there’s been a growing demand for Poitou-Charentes in the past couple of years, where you can get a three-bed home for €150,000 or a charming renovated watermill for less than €250,000. 

Another area growing in popularity is the Pyrenees-Orientales region for its combination of mountains, chic coastal towns and its proximity to Spain. The lovely village of Ceret, the vibrant city of Perpignan or the chic town of Collioure are all worth a look.

Or the Languedoc-Roussillon area offers a cheaper option to über-pricey Provence or the Cote d’Azur, with cities such as Montpellier, a dynamic, high-tech industrial city with an arty, bohemian culture.

The countryside has vineyards and lavender fields like Provence, the Mediterranean is on the doorstep, but for €150,000 you can get a flat in Montpellier, or a country cottage or village property without much land but in good repair.

There’s no doubt that the Cote’Azur remains THE place to own a holiday home on the Med for many wealthy buyers from around the world but prices haven’t nose-dived and the hotspots around Nice, St Tropez, Cannes, Antibes and Mougins are all still much in demand. Look for nearby villages to these hotspots for greater affordability. 

Up in the north, Brittany and Normandy are great options for people who like their places in the sun not too hot, but still averaging 5ºC higher than in southern England.

The fishing villages are a great attraction, with restaurants on the harbourside, but inland you have the weekly markets, chateaux, green countryside and a wonderful infrastructure, all just a hop over the Channel. That convenience pushes seaside prices up, but go a few miles inland and sizeable farmhouses go from €250,000, cottages from €85,000.

Go into the less populated interior of France - the Auvergne and the Limousin, for example - and prices drop even more, so it's well worth investigating these beautiful and dramatic regions of France a little further. 

Paris, like London, has bucked the national trend, and prices are still rising, while the French Alps remain our most popular ski-property location, with the Three Valleys as popular as ever. For investors, the dual-season returns of the prime Alpine resorts are hard to beat for returns. 

If you love classic French red wines then a fantastic area is that of the Entre deux Mers around the elegant city of Bordeaux, where many homes come with a small vineyard. 

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