Small holding in France

Anyone have any useful information regarding the pros and cons of moving to France and buying/starting a small holding. I already have a small holding in Lancashire but would really like a warmer climate.

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Try Southern Spain, Southern Portugal, North Africa or the Canaries!!! :grin:

We’ve got -8C an hour South of Toulouse tonight, Nice is at 4C - what’s it like in Lancashire?

It’s 8 degrees, foggy and rain! You could say it’s summer!!

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So, a massive 16 degrees C warmer in Lancashire last night than it was near Toulouse!

Steve - what I’m really saying is that, if a warm climate is so important to your future plans - really do your homework on any areas of France you fancy. Don’t just listen to the local immigrants waxing lyrical about how wonderful and how much better their weather is than the UK - there is a degree of ‘rose tinted glasses’ syndrome to watch out for! There are enormous variations in climate throughout France and, in some areas, winters can be long, cold and very expensive.


It is minus 10 here in Southern Burgundy.
You will also have good rainfall in Lancashire and the benefit of tge Gulf Stream if you are in the west.
Depending on what you want to rear affects where you buy.
One thing to remember is that in Lancashire you have a higher density of population to buy your produce.
Rural areas in France do not have the same population.


Here are two links. Start with the first, then study the second carefully.,9993.html

Farming is a tightly regulated activity in France - farmers’ interests are very well protected, and that makes it a bit of a closed shop. If you make money from the land, you are potentially subject to the MSA which involves paying cotisations, and depending on the scale of your activity you may or may not get social cover in return. Running a smallholding in France is not going to be like running a smallholding in Lancashire but with more sunshine, there is far far more red tape involved.


Our neighbours quickly dubbed us the “crazy English”. It fell to -15c during our first winter and we were “camping” in one room of our ruin. Blow-up mattress and sleeping bags, camping stove, kettle, small fridge and one cold-water tap

We were certainly taken by surprise…had no idea it could drop so low…(hot-water bottles are life-savers)…

Anyhow… we survived (obviously)…but we make a point of warning others who maybe view France as the “hotspot” alternative to UK…

We can have winter days with sunshine, blue skies and 22c and suddenly it plummets to the minuses with freezing winds that can set your teeth on edge…

We do have several Organic Market Gardeners in our area… and folk with sheep/goats etc etc… The returns for their hard work… are very low…I know several who have difficulty making ends meet. But they all love what they do…

Thank you Anna,
I will read and hopefully digest! I’ve been a smallholder for 10 years and never made a profit so to speak but it’s the life style I wanted.
There’s always the Euro millions!!

Thanks Simon.
Trouble is I’m not ready to slow down just yet!
What I need is somewhere warmer for the old joints whilst providing grass and water. Not much to ask is it!

Thank you Jane.
Seems like I’ve a lot more to consider before sticking my tie in the water.

We have a property on the south west near Pau which we have for sale - would be ideal for a smallholding (5 hectares plus with two woods). We are surrounded by farms. Weather is reasonably mild - around 9c/-5c this week with summer up to 35c. Coldest months are January and February (aperitifs on the terrace on Christmas day - could have had lunch as well). Not a very high rainfall, a bit less than in East Anglia. Hardly any snow in the 12 years we have been here but some frost - the grass keeps growing all winter. Spring planting middle of February. Average wind speed is about 3kms/hr. We have a large gite which we rent out and run art courses plus B & B in the house.

I’m curious how your experience has been purchasing a historical property. Have you had the red tape and uncooperative authorities dragging out paperwork for repairs? We are considering purchasing an older home or even a ruin to restore when we move.

In most cases there will be very few complications, the biggest problems are likely to be restrictions on outside features if you are too close to a church or chateau.

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Our home is several hundred years old but, I suspect, not a historical property in the sense that you mean.

However, I am gaining experience in the Historical area. Friends bought a property in 2015, not appreciating that it is so close to a Historic Monument that it comes under the watchful eyes of Batiment de France.

So, they are severely restricted in what can and cannot be done etc…
and, yes, there is a lot of paperwork…but (acting as their go-between) I have found the Mairie staff and Batiment de France representative very helpful indeed.

My friends are still thrilled with their property, but renovations etc are going to take a little longer than planned… and will not quite follow their original ideas.

If you are considering an old property… an initial enquiry at the local Mairie might be a good idea. They would be able to tell you what restrictions might or might not exist and you can make your own decision whether or not to proceed with the purchase.

good luck

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In the U.K. all buildings built before 1700 and most built between 1700 and 1840 are listed because of their age. There is no such general ruling in France. My house which was here in 1643 has no listing but I am not allowed to use corrugated iron as a roofing material as it is overlooked by ancient lands. There is a chateau hiding in the trees not far away.

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I have found everyone very helpful too. My house is late 16th/early 17th century and any application I submit has to go to Bâtiments de France. Once I put in a déclaration préalable to do some work on the façade, because bits were falling off, and much to my surprise a chap from bâtiments de France rang me up to have a chat about what materials I was intending to use, to make sure that I understood what was suitable and what wasn’t, because some modern products don’t allow old buildings to “breathe”. He wasn’t in the least difficult or officious, just concerned to make sure the outcome would be successful.

Later I wanted to change the windows and I applied to to have UPVC double glazed units put in, expecting it to be refused and told to get more expensive wooden ones, but it was approved with no fuss.

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Thank you so much :slight_smile: That’s helpful and will point me in the right direction.

We Re considering purchasing a château. I find general information here and there on what you can do, but not enough information.

That’s great Anna :slight_smile: I’m hoping it’s more about the materials and staying within the design than upgrading current electric to sustainable energy sources. It may depend on the property.

Hi David, it’s a château we are looking at purchasing. Will that make a difference?