The Languedoc Page - Languedoc articles and blogs
Surprising France, by NOMAD
Nomad is a long term expat who has lived and worked in many countries. Here, he examines some of the common misconceptions held about France. You can send an email to Nomad here.
Buying a chateau for nothing ?
Visitors are often surprised how expensive property is in Languedoc. There is a misconception that France is littered with empty properties available for a pittance.


Languedoc house prices are lower than in much of SE England.

A 4 bedroom villa with a reasonable plot of land starts at Euro 300,000 in Eastern Languedoc. Cheaper, but not cheap houses are available further North in the Cevennes and further West into Rousillon.

But there are some very cheap properties for sale in France. Why ?

Property building costs are based on the construction cost and the land cost.

Property values are subject to a more emotional factor : desirability. The value of a large detached house with extensive grounds may be below the building cost if there are no buyers.

French property prices vary considerably by location.

Languedoc prices for building land vary between approximately Euro 500 / m2 and Euro 50 / m2 depending on location. A prime coastal site could be even more expensive.

A search of the notaires property site at will disclose land available from Euro 5 / m2 in other parts of France. Doubtless building land in Paris is much higher.

This variability reflects the desirability of the area, and is influenced by :

  • Availability of road, rail, air links
  • Climate
  • Employment prospects
  • Schooling
  • Shopping
  • Recreation facilities including coast or mountains
  • Future property values

There have been significant demographic changes since WW2 as France has become an industrialised society. Improved use of agricultural machinery and higher factory wages has driven the population to relocate. This has resulted in a surplus of property in rural areas, and a shortage within commuting distances of employment.

There has also been increasing influence from second home owners. Increased prices in cities have made the combination of a city appartment with a country home attractive. The 35 hour week together with improved autoroutes, TGV and cheap airlines have extended the distance considered to be acceptable for weekend visits.

North Europeans have taken advantage of EU mobility measures to buy property in France.

Wealth and inheritance taxes have made it increasingly difficult for families to maintain older, larger properties.

So, where can you find very cheap property ? The answer is very much a reflection of the factors above considering desirability.

The cheapest properties are in very rural locations, with distant road, rail and air links. They have few schooling, employment, recreation or shopping facilities. They will be inland and probably not in South France. In many cases they will require substantial renovation : double glazing, kitchens, bathrooms, and central heating were not features of old rural houses. It could even be a disused barn requiring complete renovation.

These houses may be ideal as retirement residences, or for summer holidays. Their future value is dependent on buyers having similar aspirations.

In recession, it has been found difficult to find buyers for these properties.

Click here to see some of the available "bargains".

Bonne chance !




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