Holiday home in France-how often do you use it?

My partner and i are contemplating buying a holiday home in Brittany. Distance from our place in uk is approx 530 miles. WIth petrol at nearly £7 a gallon we are looking at £190-200 at trip plus ferry fee. MY work rota means i can go over for a 4 day trip every 3rd week which is possibly to expensive.

I was wondering how often other people go and do you think it's a long way to go for a weekend, or do they spend all their weeks holidays there too. My partner is looking at a potential imcome plus the chance to retire/semi-retire.over there

We will be cash buyers but will have to raid all the pots to do so and will leave us without any backup.I'm a bit concerned with the lack of use it could possibly get if we are unable to get out there.


Quite so, but you wouldn't want a flat in Florida would you?

I agree with Angela and Lisa...we have a holiday flat in the husband runs the letting bit as he is retired...and its quite a lot of work. When we have a holiday there...its invariably out of quite often cold....we tend not to holiday anywhere else as we have the expense and upkeep of the flat.....On arriving, the first thing I do is spend hours and hours cleaning....and noticing any little scratches and scrapes...washing windows...scrubbing floors...which I wouldnt do if I had a holiday somewhere else! if it belongs to will be busy doing maintenance..if there is a garden...even more work...or you pay someone to do it...either dont get the holiday experience...I agree with comments above...enjoy your holidays lots of different places....we will try and sell the flat soon and enjoy the freedom of holidays again!

i rented my flat out to some young brits(few times now) just asked to get a CRB done to check they are not going to run of with stuff, i let them use the flat for 200 euro a week as it sitting empty s rather a bit of life in it, now i could rent it to their friends and keep it occupied nearly all the time i am away(often) i think to many brits who live here want to much rent for property, i take in consideration that some of my weekly tenants drive down from Stirling so they are already willing to spend a fortune, so every little helps.

Who really knows what will happen?

When the time comes for us to move on perhaps someone will fall in love

with the property.

We shall see.

Carol has it in a nutshell, as she often does. Personally, of prejudice for the place, I would buy in Portugal but then we have close Portuguese friends who could sort it out for us so that we would not get ripped off. We are perfectly happy living not that far from Carol BUT France is a costly place to live and whilst so much in the UK is expensive too it is a good time to stick with the devil you know and holiday homes... Usually for investment or retirement. In the first instance that is for people who like throwing money away at present, in the second probably once a great idea but now a misguided dream.

We live in France, the Dordogne....and have a holiday property in the Languedoc...which we bought as a new apartment 5 plus years ago....its down about 30k euros...and thats without the exchange down nearer 45k. We would be way more inclined to invest in the UK....Cornwall....Devon....or maybe Somerset....thats because we are southerners....the idea of properties in the north and worse weather doesnt appeal..but some lovely venues in the north....and if you rent the property out for will earn way more in the UK....

Plenty to think about and Carol does have a point about waiting to see what happens to the Euro. I like the idea of seeing other areas but Brittany was chosen because of distance. I have not heard from the seller of the property i had wanted to see so it's not a rush thing.

We do have a saying in our house" that if it does not happen, it was not mearnt to be " and the right house will come along at the right time. In our life we find it genarally happens that things come along at the right time, even if it is frustrating or lack of patience makes me want to jump. Me and spontinaity do not go together very well:

thanks for the input


Personally I wouldnt buy anywhere at the moment...with Europe in its present state...would avoid investing anywhere in Europe. The English press were saying French property could well fall by 40% by the end of 2013.....Greece could well exit the Euro...Spain prices are low but would you want to risk it....Italy ditto...Portugal is in trouble.....the US the best place to buy at present with prices rock bottom


One point I would add to Lisa's is that whilst buying a holiday home obviously ties you to a particulars area this too has its compensations: you don't really get underneath the surface of any country until you live (or partially live) there. Being a tourist is a different experience. I have found the whole experience of simple things like going to the builders merchants, seeing businesses grow (and old ones die), getting to know my neighbours, watching peoples' daily routine etc. to be a whole 'adventure'. It can be a bit exhausting until you've learned the ropes, but it isn't that hard... Especially in a small commune you will quickly be accepted as 'les Anglais' in a way that you never will from taking a summer rental....

Of course, after a short time you will have sampled the local restaurants and found your favourites. Variety becomes limited.....but then I haven't ruled out upping sticks in ten years and moving to anothr region and starting the whole process again....

Like everyone seems to say though: I think you need the flexibility in your working and family life to be able to take advantage of your second home for more extended periods to make it worthwhile....otherwise the jounrey could be expensive and tiresome...


Hello, Since property prices are falling, why not spend the next few years spending the money you would have spent on a property on holidays to different parts of France, as and when you want, viewing properties if you feel inclined. If you see something you must have, then you can buy it. If not, you can spend your next holiday 'researching' another area. You can invest the money you would have spent, and if there's a crash, then your money may well be better protected. If the euro crashes your pounds will buy more. When you get to your destination someone else will have cut the grass, made the bed and will prepare your dinner,[and pay the taxes and deal with the bureaucracy of running their business]. A disaster of a holiday is soon recovered from. If you have a property disaster it can be a nightmare. Once you've decided on an area, do make sure you visit it a number of times, at different times of the year, to assess what it's like 'off season'. All the best, Angela [7years in the Dordogne, now in Devon].

Hi David,

We travel to our house in Brittany around 6 times each year for ten days each time, but that is because we run a property business selling houses there. The ferry crossings can be very expensive rising to £450 a go in the summer. It's only that our visits are all on expenses (and justified by visiting agents we work with) that we can contemplate it. It is definitely a no-no for a weekend trip with the ferry crossing from Portsmouth to St Malo being a 10 hour affair. You'd hardly arrive before it is time to leave again. You will be left with very little time to enjoy this wonderful part of the world. It sounds to me from the £190 to £200 price you are placing on fuel as though you are travelling quite a way before you get to the ferry port on the UK side.

Our house cost us just £12K in 1999 and would now be worth £200K if we were daft enough to sell it - so it's a good investment if you can make it work for you. It's certainly a good idea to buy now and subsidise your travel costs by letting your property until you are able to make the full time switch on your retirement. How often you want to do the journey depends on where you are placed within UK (and in Brittany). We are already close(ish) to Portsmouth so no problem with an hour's drive on the French side. But ferry trips get pretty samey and boring if you do them every 6 weeks. We are not well placed on either side to fly and, as 'do-uppers' we can never travel light enough to do that. All the best - Chris and Micki Slade - A House in Brittany.


Perhaps renting for part of the year near enogh to an airport to make trips a bit easier maybe an option and you could get the best of both worlds and maintain flexibility. One thing is for sure, fuel aint going to get cheaper either side of the La Mange!!

Dear David, We have vacationed in France for some 30 years now. About five years ago we bought a holiday cottage in the Dordogne and have achieved superb holidays ever since.

We usually travel down 4 - 6 times a year. I notice your worry about fuel costs and this has also troubled us over the latest years with the price rises. There are a number of options open to you. (1) Do NOT buy your fuel on any Motorway, (A roads), try to go to a supermarket such as L'Elerc or Intermarche, this will give you best prices in France.

If you are thinking about multi-trips get season tickets from any of the crossing suppliers - this can save a lot of money!

I notice from your mileage estimate that you will be spending nearly two days of your short breaks driving and although this is a total pleasure in France it will also mean that if you use the Autoroutes you will also be paying for road tolls, these are not too expensive and can be cheaper that coping with all the traffic on the N and D roads along with all the hassle of being stuck behind tractors, lorries and other slow moving vehicles as you will maintain good progress for just a little more on the tolls.

If you are thinking of recuperating some costs of your property you could start by renting it by the week to friends and relatives thereby trying to avoid taxes.

I hope that this might help but if you have any related questions just e-mail us and we will try to help.

Roger A. O'Malley

Hi David,

We have a holiday home in the Limousin.... at the moment I am out for about 4 days every 3 weeks, but that is partially through a mad rush over renovations.....

I am self-employed and can take time off as and when I want and indeed work goes 'dead' for me in August. I can also do a fair amount of my work from home over the internet (I work 2/3 days at home anyway - so not difficult to transpose that to France).

In terms of travel times / costs the average time to Calais is about 7 hours for us, but then we live in SE London so we are only 1 hr from the chunnel. With car and autoroute tolls it is about £150 each way....I have the frequent traveller account with Le Shuttle and a 'widget' to use the toll roads (about E20 per year, then slight discount on the tolls).

However I also keep an 'old banger' in France. It costs me E500 per annum for a parking permit for the airport, and then we are an hour from the airport.... Limoges is served by 2 "low cost" airlines, so there is limited chance of the route being cancelled. Normally my Ryanair flights work out at about £65 each way - but if you book in advance you can get some genuine cheap deals - £30 one way, or even down to £15 (with taxes etc).

In Brittany your main route is Brittany Ferries (expensive and sometimes overnight) - although v pleasant.

Of course, we can't take the dog on the plane - so that rules that out for many trips.

Depending upon wheher you need to take a dog and / or the size of your family you may find that another region in France may actually be easier and cheaper if it is on a local low-cost air route for you..... Brittany may be physically closer, but properties more expensive...... for example in my region properties are dirt cheap.... what you save in property costs could go towards a car / parking / air fees. Check out your local routes and then explore the possibilities where they go.....

I have to admit that I think you would find the long drive a chore after a time if you were only able to go out for 2/3 days at a time. I certainly think that if this is all I could manage (sans chien) then I'd pretty soon tire of the journey. 5 days makes it a bit more worthwhile - so a 'night drive' and then recover....

All depends upon your work requirments I think: if you can extend your trips to a week (or just shy of it) then it may be worthwhile. If you are truly limited to 4 days you may find you don't use it very much. I also agree with the comments to the effect that there isn't much to be had by way of rentals - and what there is to be had will mean that you have to rent it out just when you want to use it ! You'll have to keep a higher maintenance spec when renting out and also, perhaps, set aside a room to put your personal stuff in when guests are there - you can't just arrive and put the kettle on !

If you can negotiate with work to extend your trips a bit (spedning a day or two working over the 'net) then it may be worthwhile. Alternatively if the low-cost airline option is a 'goer' then short trips may be ok. If not I fear that you may tire of those long journeys.....


have you thought of buying somewhere a little nearer ie picardie still very pretty, less journey time


Thanks for your thoughts and as Francois says difficult times lye ahead. I think we will have to sit down and have a long hard look at the figures. Flying is an option but to be honest you will then need transport whilst there which will bring the cost up. Door to door including jumping through the hoops at the airport will not save that much time. I would rather drive then have the hastle.

The renting out was more just to pay for it's upkeep then make a profit. We see it more as a investment(not money) for future needs and holidays. My partner does not like flying and i see us taking more of our holidays in France.At the moment i'm still waiting for the call to say the house is still available at which point we will hot foot it down to see it.

If it's not for us at least we get a long weekend in France and we can stock up on goodies:-)


(I think I put this in the wrong place.. so here goes again... sorry if it turns up in 2 places now :-( )

When we bought our tiny apartment in the Savoie we were 'young' and I had an executive job. A lifelong dream of mine of actually LIVING in the Alps, albeit it not in Switzerland, came true.

Fortunately my dear wife loved it too, and we had money to travel (free company car, good salary), because the 1200 km down, and back up again were not cheap. That has aggravated in a major way now of course, with the ridiculous cost of car insurance, taxes and gas prices.
Ad the fact that I am now self-employed and earning as little as 10% as I used to......

.... hence something to bear in mind when making plans and NOT having reserve. Things can go south in the wink of an eye, believe it or not ! ;-)

To your actual question.. we used to drive down some 4 to 6 times a year, often for less than a week even.
Today we go 3-4 times a year, but now stay 3 to 4 weeks if we can.

All in all - the long travel, high cost AND the fact that I am now self-employed and work via the Internet - made us decide to sell the house in Holland and move to France permanently (no, not to that tiny apartment).
Alas, the housing crash has so far sank those plans as well.....

Bottom line: think carefully because NOW are difficult times and more to come.

OK, we are further down and people tend to fly to Bergerac. People seem to do a grand total of about six weeks with all bits added together. Fuel and fares are going up and property values going down, although with the € £ exchange rate that has some virtues. However, lots of people are trying to sell up because the letting out and gite market were flat last year and this year doing very little. Tax foncière and maintenance (not cheap) cost a fair bit.

Hard one to answer, but those are some of the facts. We are here to stay, but even then if it all gets too much...