Price is right with a little savoir faire
The hot spots have hefty price tags and the exchange rate is poor, so where do you find affordable French property? Sharon Dale reports.
THE most fashionable areas of France have been attracting wealthy British buyers for decades, but those priced out of the Côte d’Azur, Provence and Paris have been forced to widen their search.
Now the poor exchange rate means the need for cheaper alternatives is even more pressing.
The good news, says Patrick Joseph of Leeds-based property portal My French House, is that it is perfectly possible to find a home across the Channel that is both affordable and accessible.
Patrick believes the Languedoc region in South West France is one of the country’s most up-and-coming destinations and it is attracting interest from buyers looking for the laid-back French lifestyle without the Provencal price tag. “There has been a definite rise in demand for all types of property in the areas around Beziers, Montpellier and Carcassonne, which have good links with regional airports including Leeds Bradford,” says Patrick, who is half French.
“The landscape in some areas can be similar to that found in Provence, encompassing both mountains and coast. The things that originally drew people to Provence like the unspoilt countryside and historic villages, can be found here where many centuries-old traditions continue to thrive.”
The coastal areas of the Languedoc may not attract the A-listers who populate the Riviera ports of Cannes and St Tropez but lively modern resorts like Port-Camargue, one of Europe’s premier sailing resorts, host many regattas and windsurfing events and their reputation amongst the rich and famous is certainly growing.
In the Languedoc, you can find a three-bedroom village house in good condition for around 150,000 euros. A villa with a pool costs from 300,000 euros and a large country house from 350,000 euros, but will probably require work.
Another region attracting attention is Green Perigord, north
Property of Dordogne, which is within easy reach of Limoges airport. The Dordogne has long been a favourite with British holidaymakers and secondhome owners, and more than 6,000 British nationals currently live in what is often referred to as Dordogneshire. Prices in the Green Perigord region, which lies across the northern part of the Dordogne, are more affordable than in some of the classic favourites. The scenery of the Dronne valley is spectacular and is home to some very picturesque villages such as Brantome and Saint Jean de Cole, according to Patrick.
A country house with an acre of land and outbuildings costs around 200,000 euros, though a My French House client recently and has bought one for 99,000 euros. For a property with more land and a pool, you will pay around 300,000-350,000 euros. Those who buy should have a safe investment as prices across the channel don’t usually suffer the dramatic peaks and troughs we have in Britain.
“People who have been put off buying property in other parts of Europe because of falling prices are realising that homes in France don’t tend to devalue as much,” says Patrick. In fact, France’s national association of estate agents, the FNAIM, is predicting property price rises of between three and six per cent this year.
“Buyers are looking for somewhere they can get away to easily for weekend breaks and holidays but they also want properties that have good rental potential ,” says Patrick.
“They might have to shop around as you don’t get many euros to the pound these days.
“The rate isn’t going to go back to the dizzy heights of a few years ago, but it’s not all bad especially if you are buying a property from a Brit who bought a few years ago when the exchange rate was in his favour. If he sells now and converts euros to sterling he is making money,” says Patrick.
PIED A TERRE: You can find affordable property in and around the medieval city of Carcassonne.
Charming Perigourdine-style country house and barn with landscaped gardens of 3,700 sq m with views over the surrounding countryside. Contact: www.my-french-house. com
This property is in a quiet and picturesque area of the North Dordogne. It has outbuildings converted into a guest bedroom, all on set on 5,000 sq m of land. Contact: www.my-french-house. com
A property suitable for gites, B&B, or a large family. Comprises two properties with two bedrooms plus a four bed property. Each has private terrace plus access to grounds and pool. Contact: www. my-french-house.com
Four bedroom house in a village near Carcassonne with 230 sq m of habitable space plus a basement area of approx. 75 sq m split into three rooms. Contact: www. my-french-house.com