Dreaming of a snug bolt-hole that’s both affordable and full of character? Cue the traditional French village house. We outline why this type of property is increasingly popular with second homeowners, highlight some key considerations and tempt you with some of our favourite examples of French village houses for under €100,000 (click on the images to see the properties, or visit our new property listings).
Tucked away down the narrow streets of France’s sleepy villages are some of the cheapest – and most tempting – property deals available on today’s market.
Traditional village houses. For estate agents in France, these would typically refer to terraced properties that line the streets in the old quarter of villages and small towns. A growing number of international property buyers are falling in love with them. British buyers in particular have always been attracted to the charm and character of older French properties.
It’s thanks to local French people choosing to move into newer, more modern properties, usually deemed more comfortable and functional, that there is a constant stream of older village houses becoming available. There will also be opportunities to buy from foreign owners moving on, most of whom will have renovated their property at some point.
If you’re going to buy within the next six months, make sure you get your tickets to Your Overseas Home. It’s designed specifically for serious buyers, so you can get detailed information from lawyers, agents and currency providers.
In recent years, advances in building materials and machinery have made renovating tired old village houses easier and more attractive. And across France, there is an ongoing trend to steer traffic away from village centres, meaning streets are becoming pedestrianised and in turn more enjoyable and safer places live or own a holiday home.
Price is another key attraction of a village house. In many rural areas of France, habitable or renovated properties are available from around €80,000. Those in need of work could be substantially less. For many second homeowners, the compactness of these properties, which rarely come with a garden, is also part of the appeal. Compared to a detached barn with land and pool, for example, they are easier to maintain and keep clean. They are convenient to lock-up-and-leave when unoccupied too. Being in a street with adjoining neighbours on both sides is also good for security.
Share the cost of a holiday home with family and your French village houses for under €100,000 can cost the same as car. Read our guide, Buying with Family
Village house need to knows
Here are some other things to think about when buying a French village house:
A structural survey is always advisable: Don’t be deceived by obvious cosmetic disrepair and assume a lick of paint (then distressed) will make it that shabby-chic dream. Bigger problems may be lurking beneath. But don’t necessarily be fooled by a stunning restoration either. Look for obvious signs of structural repair work in neighbouring properties – could there be an underlying problem in the street? Note, everything problem is solvable, but at what cost?
Think about access and parking. Would you be happy not being able to get a car directly to your front door? If it’s not an issue, check where your nearest parking options would be. They’re likely to be a neighbouring street or nearby car park. One other village benefit – parking is highly likely to be free.
Consider lighting and temperature. Older village houses tend to have small windows on either the front and/or rear elevation. Unless altered from the original design, they will be not awash with natural light. That said, they are cleverly designed to be cool in the summer and warm in the cooler months, especially those with thick stone walls. For maximum sunlight, search for properties with unobstructed south-facing elevations.
Village houses often come with a back yard but no garden, with the front door opening directly on to the street. Some come with an allocated share of a communal garden area, usually for growing vegetables. This will be located on the edge of the village, similar to an allotment. Great for making new friends!
Roof terraces are a lovely feature of many village houses. You may want to add this to your wish-list when property hunting. But also consider having one added to a property – just check local planning rules before buying, in case it’s a non-starter.
Does the attic have potential? Again, consider the option of converting the attic of a property into an extra bedroom. There will be planning rules to consider, and this could conflict with any plans for a roof terrace!