When it comes to buying property in France, there are all your usual types of properties available (houses, apartments, villas) but there are also homes specific to France.
Chateau: A manor house or country house of nobility or gentry
In times gone by, chateaux across France belonged to Lords and Ladies of noble birth. The gentry, as they are more commonly known, don’t always live in such grand homes these days. There are many chateaux for sale across France – some split into flats or apartments, while others remain one home, with plenty of room for guests.
Language tip: le chateau = singular / les chateaux = plural
Bastide: a farmhouse or country house in the south of France
Bastide is a word for a country home or farmhouse, usually in the south of France, in the countryside. It can be used to describe a small, fortified town, usually built in the medieval period. Examples of bastide towns in the south of France include Monglanquin, Najac, Beaumont-du-Périgord, Monpazier and so on. Read more about bastide towns in France here.
Chalet: a wooden house with overhanging eaves, typical of Alpine Europe
A chalet is considered a house made of wood with a gently sloping roof and wide eaves, designed to withhold heavy mounds of snow. Unsurprisingly, chalets are often found in Alpine regions of France and sometimes in forests, where winters are particularly tough or cold.
Maison de maître: A mansion
Pronounced: May-sone duh may-tra
A maison de maître is a home, exclusive to Europe, that can be traced back to Ancient Roman times. It literally translates as Masters’ House, and is usually a bourgeois mansion with an elegant, symmetrical design. These types of houses were often owned by the town or village nobles – perhaps a doctor or solicitor with accolades. There are many period maisons du maîtres available in France. Most come with lots of land and benefit from the most beautiful country landscapes in all of France.
The longère is another kind of rural property, similar to longhouses in southwest England. Normally rectangular in shape, a longère is usually built with materials from the region and often just a one-storey dwelling, with perhaps an attic.
A pavillon will usually be a more modern detached house, with a cellar and garage on the ground floor. This is the most common type of property in most areas of France. You will equally find that bungalows in the north of France for the most part are also called pavillons.
Haussmann-style architecture is synonymous with modern-day Paris and Montpelier. They were designed by19th-century official, Baron Georges-Eugène Haussmann, who revamped the city in a vast project that remodeled over 12,000 structures to match his refined design. Today, this style of architecture accounts for 60% of Parisian homes. The characteristics of Haussmann structures vary, but often are between 12 and 20 metres, have no more than six stories and initially, stairs were the only means of access, however some have had lifts fitted since.
Pronounced: veel-a d’ark-ee-teckt
This is an ‘architect-designed’ modern property. They will generally have been built in the last 50 years or so, varying in design from one-storey houses to more extensive properties. The style will generally resemble that of older properties of the region. For example, there are several villas in the Languedoc-Roussillon of this type with the typical “languedocienne” roof of curved slates in earthy colours.