Cost and upkeep would put most people off owning a French château but luckily there is a more practical but no less attractive option – the ‘maison de maître’.

A step down from the grandness and size of a typical château, maisons de maître still ooze plenty of French character and elegance. The term translates literally as ‘master’s house’ or ‘gentleman’s house’ and stems from the fact most were built by bourgeois landowners or minor gentry in the 18th and 19th centuries.

Maisons de maître can be found all over France and are not limited to a town or village. Given that many of the original owners became wealthy from renting out agricultural land, many of these charming properties occupy rural sites and come with a farm linked to the main house by a courtyard, which years ago would have been tenanted.
Typical maisons de maître have a symmetrical façade, the same internal layout and share certain features. These include a centrally located front door, tall windows with shutters, a gently sloping pitched roof and on each floor, four evenly-proportioned main rooms with high ceilings. On the ground-floor a central entrance hall usually leads to formal reception rooms, where once upon a time the homeowner would have formally received visiting guests.

They typically come with a large plot of land, stables or a barn, as well as more formal gardens close to the house and frequently a courtyard area.

Outside, maisons de maître are just as appealing. They typically come with a large plot of land, often with outbuildings, such as stables or barn, as well as more formal gardens close to the house and frequently a courtyard area. These days, most will come with a swimming pool too.

Maisons de maître are significantly more affordable than typical châteaux. So if you fancy becoming the proud owner of one, start your search by looking at these ones we’ve picked below. They’re all in good condition and have an asking price of less than €300,000!

Limousin

In a rural location near the town of Châteauponsac and just 40 minutes north of Limoges, this carefully renovated property has four bedrooms, including a separate guest room, and two bathrooms. A highlight of the outside is its picturesque landscaped garden, complemented by a field and heated saltwater pool. Price: €220,000.

(Click the image to see the property)

 

Dordogne

In a hamlet in the Ribérac area and 10 minutes from a market town, this pretty property has four bedrooms and two bathrooms. The large plot includes a traditional pigeonnier, courtyard garden and swimming pool.
Price: €243,800.

(Click the image to see the property)

 

Poitou-Charentes

This elegant stone property is in a quiet hamlet just five minutes from the colourful town of St Jean d’Angély and around 55 kms from La Rochelle airport. With five bedrooms and two bathrooms, the interior has plenty of authentic features. The outside includes an enclosed landscaped garden and barn, ideal as a garage/workshop.
Price: €259,700.

(Click the image to see the property)

 

Dordogne

This larger and slightly later maison de maître, down a rural road near Nontron and 50 minutes from Limoges airport, has been updated and converted for use as a chambre d’hôte. It has six bedrooms and an attic that is ready for conversion. The fenced plot includes a pretty garden, pool area and three barns.
Price: €295,000

(Click the image to see the property)

 

Buying a House in France Guide.

The France Buying Guide walks you step-by-step through each stage of the property buying process in France, with practical recommendations from our experts who have been through the process themselves. The guide will help you to:


  Ask the right questions
  Avoid losing money
  Avoid the legal pitfalls
  Move in successfully

Download your free guide to buying in France

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