House Hunt

Hello and Happy New Year!!!

I am starting my search for a holiday home in france! I am looking for at least two bedrooms… we would be cash buyers but not a huge budget… looking for hints and tips… I guess I am asking to know what I don’t know! Many Thanks :pray:

Where in France do you wish to live

what exactly are you looking for and what is your budget

Make a list, where in France you want to be, in a village, town, city, countryside, how close do you want to be/ or not want to be to people or neighbors.
Have you traveled France and know areas you like or are you starting from scratch.
Do you want finished and ready to move into or a project.
The site below is quite good for giving you an idea what is available for your budget.

How well do you know France? Is there a region you prefer?

We’re part way through our purchase: in general we found being nearer a significant facility is more expensive i.e. within an hour of the coast, a ski resort or in a city. Like the UK, France is becoming much more built-up than it was 30 years ago, and you need to decide if that bothers you.

We found it was more affordable to be <1 hour from the sea in Normandy and Brittany, with prices increasing heading further south. If you don’t need the sea then looking further inland is much more affordable, especially if you can do work yourself (though as some here point out, you probably won’t make money doing a place up - you’ll likely just get your money on improvements back). Friends that have a house in the Tarn reckoned the weather was noticeably better south of the Loire, which reflected my experience on holidays.

Cheapest areas seemed to be central France, in a band running across the middle, although Brittany and Normandy could be extremely good value too. We did a bit of a ‘grand tour’ driving 2500 miles in 2 weeks because we did not have a specific area that we wanted - we’ve holidayed in the Loire, Biarritz & Aquitaine, Vendee, near Verdun (too flat for me!) and Burgundy.

Many properties come with a lot of land around, and to a Brit that sounds really attractive. Don’t forget that land will need maintenance, and if you don’t live there full time then it can become burdensome having to spend all your holiday time looking after it. Ditto if the property needs a lot of work. Furniture is often left behind, but conversely fitted kitchens and appliances seem to sometimes get taken by the vendors.

House prices in France and the UK aren’t comparable, and if you sell up in the UK it may never be possible to buy another house there if you want to return. If you find a place you like then make an offer and negotiate as required.

Estate agents can be quite patchy, and poor at replying/responding, some not bothering at all. Generally I found agents from Leggetts most responsive, although we had good responses from Selection Habitat too. I saw a lot of houses that looked interesting on the Franimo website, but lots of enquiries brought very few replies. I’d recommend always asking for more details and an address, then viewing the area in google streetview and google maps - sometimes nice looking houses can be close to railway lines or industrial areas, or the area is just a bit sucky.

In terms of buying process there are several well-written guides available via the various estate agents, and I’d recommend reading a couple of those.

This is just my observations - others here may well have contrary thoughts and findings.


We decided buy a holiday home in a small country village, with neighbours to keep a watchful eye on our often empty property…
and, most importantly for us… this meant we were in the heart of French Life from the moment we stepped outdoors.

Just something to think about.


I certainly would be cautious when dealing with Leggetts although obviously they will have some reputable operatives.

@Ancient_Mariner made lots of good points. The part about the land is very important.

We love our garden and live here full time, but my OH has described it at times as one man’s war against vegetation! It isn’t even massive garden but certainly big enough to be time consuming. . When we first saw the property in October 2018 it hadn’t rained for three months so that gave a bit of a false impression as to how abundant the greenery could become :laughing:.

And if you book a trip over, good to get in touch well in advance to make appointments and even then it’s true you may not get many responses. Phoning can be better than emailing.

And it is nicer if there is a local shop and facilities nearby.


Be aware that depending on where you are in France the grass does not stop growing even in winter, we basically never stop cutting grass all year round.
It’s something to think about if you are not going to be here for 3 months during winter.



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and the laws regarding overhanging trees/hedges are becoming more and more enforced.

I know of several absentee Owners who have received official letters… demanding (nicely) that they do "whatever… " regarding their frontage and/or neighbours … and organizing from abroad isn’t always easy.

Frankly, in my view a holiday-home wants to be a place where one comes to relax and enjoy… with as few worries as possible.

That’s why we bought what we did…

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Hi I have only lived and worked in France for 26 years so compared to other posters a mere novice . Before answering your question You need to advise how often do you intend to visit. Quick weekend trip or 6 X 2 weeks or longer in summer, Are you driving , train or flying all now have significant costs? If driving how far and how long to travel to your home from the ports. If you are not careful travel costs and time spoil the break. Check with Michelin but 800km brings you to the Lot and Dordogne at a cost of €300 round trip and 8 hrs each way.

I must say in my time when dealing with Mme and M Leggett they have always been first class.

Good luck with the dream, and a happy new year.

Just an observation about agents, having used several of them and sold houses myself: do not expect any real advice from most of them. They are here to sell the houses, and not to tell you about the various defects which may impact them. The ones from Leggetts are known from french people to ideally sell … overpriced houses to foreigners ! They will very often use terrific descriptions of their houses and environnements, just overlooking basics like heavy works needed (most of them are no real professionnals - just a few days training, the legal responsability being assumed by the headquarters).
So, make a list of your requirements and wishes before you visit a house, and check them while visiting. Also, if you suspect work is needed for the house you would like to buy, try to get an estimate from a professionnal chosen by you, and not by the agent. The agents, however, can be useful to get some information about the area. In summary: never trust an agent, and try to do the job (buying and selling) yourself !

The fact that they are always advertising for new staff suggests people don’t last long there, which is certainly what people have told me. And their prices seem to be a fait bit over the odds.

Yes very true. The following thread is an interesting read!

Better? Moot point. A thread about the difference between then [some years ago … 10-15] and now established that ‘hot’ - ie too hot - summers are advancing north.

Having been chased out of Med Spain by unliveable months - July/Aug/Sept - I went for fail-safe in Normandy. A big, wet, gale is delightful, to me. Bracing. Or just beautiful shapes in the sky.

It doesn’t last weeks, just a day or two.

But those days upon days that turn grass the colour of a wholemeal digestive biscuit - they do go on for weeks on end. And that’ south of the Loire, basically.

If you stood on this spot and saw exactly this, 300/365, year in, year out …

Take climate into serious account.

I used to tease our Zimbabwean friends about how boring it would be to live somewhere with endless sunshine. The picture you posted is also a little amusing because we have good friends now living in Valencia for the milder climate, having done 10years previously in Badajoz.

Weather considerations aren’t so much about how hot it is in summer, since England can reach 37 plus, but about the rest of the year: how damp, how mild etc. But I agree that if a hot summer is a problem then choosing somewhere cooler is certainly better. Given the choice, we’d be buying a house in Italy’s Marche or Abruzzo regions, but my wife can’t face learning Italian.

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Marche is my favourite. Though it rains an awful lot. Not been for a while though, it may be over-invaded now.

It is lovely. Did you ever get a chance to see the flower fields around Casteluccio at all? Unfortunately the town has been devastated by quakes as so many were in that area, but the area is still beautiful.

We have local friends that bought a ruin & rebuilt it over about 10 years, fortunately to meet seismic requirements so that it wasn’t damaged when so much else got flattened.

Yes, the lentils place on the way to that spooky place Norcia. My favourite I used to try to drive through late April/early May was the high meadows full of wildflowers (coming across to Marche over the hills from the West Coast) - I think it might have been called Piano Grande.

I’d love to go back when I’ve sorted myself out here.

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