We’re still in love with France even af­ter 21 years in Provence

Brits are still fol­low­ing their French dream, but is mov­ing across the Chan­nel re­ally a bonne idée? Sharon Dale in­ves­ti­gates.

Yorkshire Post - Property - - PROPERTY -

THE book that prompted an ex­o­dus to France and spawned a li­brary of copy­cat mem­oirs cel­e­brates its com­ing of age this year.

It’s 21 years since Peter Mayle pub­lished A Year in Provence and the pic­ture he painted is still one that tempts hun­dreds of Brits to move across the Chan­nel in search of a health­ier, more re­laxed way of life.

Eleanor O’Kane, edi­tor of Liv­ing France mag­a­zine, also founded in 1989, says: “Even the re­cent eco­nomic down­turn doesn’t seem to have damp­ened this sec­tor of the mar­ket. Fig­ures from a re­cent reader sur­vey show that 45 per cent of our read­ers want to buy a prop­erty in France in the next cou­ple of years, only two per cent less than in 2004. The amount peo­ple are pre­pared to pay has gone up from £94,650 in 2004 to £164,906 in 2009.”

She adds: “France has weath­ered the storm bet­ter than other over­seas desti­na­tions. This is due to its prox­im­ity to the UK as well as its unique cul­tural ap­peal. Over­seas mar­kets that rely solely on hav­ing bar­gain­base­ment-priced prop­erty have suf­fered.”

Pa­trick Joseph, who grew up in France and now lives in Leeds, is founder of www.my-french­house.com, a French prop­erty web­site for English speak­ing house hunters.

Pa­trick, who has helped hun­dreds of Brits find hol­i­day and per­ma­nent homes over the past seven years, says: “What peo­ple like is that it is near to the UK and of­fers a bet­ter qual­ity of life. They love the food, the wine, the health care sys­tem.

“It’s also safe to buy there with none of the prob­lems we’ve seen in Spain and it’s a safe in­vest­ment. You won’t see prices rocket in France but on av­er­age they rise steadily at be­tween four and seven per cent a year.”

It still of­fers good value, too. A fam­ily-sized three to four bed­room house starts from £120,000 to £150,000 up­wards in area pop­u­lar with Brits. These in­clude Brit­tany and Nor­mandy be­cause they are clos­est to the UK and up-and-com­ing Langue­doc, which of­fers sun but is more af­ford­able than Provence.

Pa­trick says: “The mar­ket is slower than in pre­vi­ous years but it’s sta­ble.

“We are also see­ing that now is the time to sell for peo­ple who want to move back to Bri­tain for fam­ily or health rea­sons.

“At the height of the mar­ket a few years ago, it was im­pos­si­ble for peo­ple to sell what they had in France and buy some­thing com­pa­ra­ble here, but now prices have dropped in Bri­tain they can do that. The ex­change rate is also in their favour for sell­ing prop­erty, though not in terms of their pen­sion.”

In Pa­trick’s ex­pe­ri­ence, most peo­ple em­i­grat­ing to France are Fran­cophiles, who do set­tle long-term. They are clued up. If there are mis­takes, it is in choos­ing the wrong area.

“I get peo­ple call­ing me to make ap­point­ments to see 10 prop­er­ties and I say be­fore you do that, go to the area, travel round the towns and vil­lages, have a drink in a café, a meal in a res­tau­rant, get a feel for the area so you know ex­actly where you want to be.” www.liv­ingfrance.com www.my-french-house.com

WARM WEL­COME: Ma Ma­sion de Mer is now a beau­ti­ful cham­bre d’hôte and home to Emma and Phil Hutchinson.

Emma Joll, David and the boys out­side their farm­house in Nor­mandy. Right, the vicarage near Ban­gles Del Orme, ren­o­vated by the cou­ple. De­tails be­low.

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