Rental property in France

The Louvre
Image by FrogMiller via Flickr

The French property market has plenty of conventional houses and apartments for sale, many of them recently built and ready to move into. But if you’re looking for something special or uniquely French, then a browse through the listings of an established French property expert like French Connections will give you some ideas. For a French home with character or conversion potential, what type of property could you go for?
A farmhouse in France can offer bags of regional architectural features and charm. If you’re lucky, you’ll also find glorious views of unspoilt countryside. Traditional farmhouses are often spacious and may come with plenty of land and/or outbuildings to convert for guests, storage or hobbies. Practicalities to consider are whether the rural location might be too lonely and, if there’s a lot of land, whether you can manage or rent it out.
Owning a water mill in France – what a romantic prospect! Rugged stone, a huge grain loft with exposed beams, the dramatic sound of water as it rushes into a lake or river. Water mills do come on the market and, fully restored, command high prices. If you favour a restoration project, bear in mind that the work must be sympathetic to the architecture and could involve not only traditional building work but also specialist attention to the working mechanisms of the mill and wheel.
Think of a French chateau and you’ll probably see an elegant classical façade, tall stone turrets and rows of neatly shuttered windows. They whisper of bygone opulence and history’s half-forgotten secrets; the appeal is obvious. There are finds still to be made, especially in the Limousin, Auvergne and other up-and-coming areas. Whilst modernised chateaux command high prices, remember that restoration is also very costly. Renovation grants can be available for listed properties but the process is slow and you must use an approved architect and craftsmen.
Older village houses in France often go unloved and unwanted by natives, who prefer to build new. For those who like to be part of a community, these properties offer great potential. Usually much larger than traditional British terraced cottages, many have spacious rooms, high ceilings and beamed lofts ripe for conversion and oozing traditional charm. Before you buy, it makes sense to commission a survey, paying particular attention to the roof and foundations, and to check out both local and regional building restrictions and regulations.
Finally, a word on price variations. Paris, the south of France and popular tourist areas are most expensive, while properties in less accessible rural locations offer more for your money.

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