The Deserted Village?

Good morning everyone. As I’m new to this parish, a quick introduction of myself that might sound familiar: I’m looking to buy a property that will, initially, be a holiday home and then something more permanent later (leaving the kids to ‘adult’ in the family home in Ireland in the midst of a housing crisis). With my limited budget, I’m fascinated by the low cost of properties in villages that seem…deserted? Lots of houses but no shops, no signs of life… 30 mins drive to the nearest supermarket.
I was wondering if anyone on this forum has chosen to live in a village like this? I enjoy my own company…but does it get depressing to live in a place that once had life but now doesn’t? Or do you love being on mains drains and having the village more or less to yourself!
Search area is currently Pays de la Loire/Normandy/Brittany.

I lived for the past 30years in Brittany and there were many “deserted” villages that had just houses and nothing else. These were mainly where the same families had lived for generations and passed the properties down and in many of these villages because of the very cheap property prices, the brits came flooding in during the late 90’s. OH did many renovation projects in these places but had to eventually stop going out so far due to the distances and the increasing charges by the building suppliers to deliver materials. We chose to live by the sea in a commune that was thriving but still under 850 souls permanently living there, most were all entwined families from way back. If its just a holiday home you want to buy, then maybe you will enjoy the peace and tranquility of central Brittany for a very small amount of money but beware that many of these properties are actually sub-standard in terms of being warm and dry and you may find yourself trapped in a money pit of expensive renovations, especially where drainage and the utilities are concerned. Do your searching thoroughly and carefully, ask many questions and don’t be fobbed off by estate agents, they are trying to make a sale. Notaires also sell properties and do the paperwork legally at the same time so try them as well - we bought and I sold through our local one as I trusted them. There are travelling vans that go round the isolated parts selling anything from clothes to cheese and many bars also sell groceries and bread, you have to do some research but on the whole, people seem to enjoy having a few hours out to visit a larger town to do banking and shopping. There are also hidden facets to small communes such as people coming together, clubs and associations and communal events so its not all being on your own. The downside to some very isolated living is the security aspect these days especially from squatters who might find a holiday home, break in and take it over and you can’t easily get them out either so take that into consideration if you are not there regularly and also how much land you actually can manage and not just buy to look like you have spent a fortune as its so cheap.


That’s very interesting food for thought @Shiba, thank you.

I would find living somewhere that is full of empty abandoned homes very depressing! But I’m not sure that’s what you mean, more a village with no services? No commercial activity at all. And no children so no school bus.

Our hamlet had 62 people, no shops, and no public transport apart from school bus. But is is a live hamlet as has working families and three businesses. So is not a deserted village. It used to have ambulant shops when we arrived (baker, butcher, fishmonger, grocer) but these have all gone.

What do you mean?

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Effect and cause there.

French villages often seem deserted, and that’s even those with shops and bars! You’d have to be a special kind of person to enjoy life in a village from which everyone wanted to escape. I imagine you’re thinking of it because of having a limited budget, but you’d inevitably find yourself stuck with a property no-one wanted to buy (and with the risks @Shiba mentions if you use it as a holiday home).

It would be a good idea to rent a property somewhere you’re considering living, in summer and in winter. You may find you love it.

(Our criteria included the commune having at least one boulangerie (NOT a baguette machine!) and some sort of sustainable industry - which might include tourism - but we also considered “dormitory” villages. We had discovered, over many years, that the country life was not for us - and that’s despite both of us being unusually comfortable with our own company.)

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Yes exactly. I saw a fine property online and could tell from Google street view that it’s been on the market for two years. Price has just dropped again. If I bought something like that, it could be a real struggle to sell it later.

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Hi @JaneJones yes, “deserted” might be a dramatic description :slight_smile: I’m just not used to seeing a village with no shops, no services, no public transport. Not a hamlet - these are villages with maybe a hundred houses, a main street where there obviously used to be shops, a church, a village square… but everything looks shut up, no people out walking, some parked cars.

Ah! Maybe you’ve hit the nail on the head :smile:

That is common here. many houses sell very slowly.

You would need to spend time in the place to see if it is actually shut up. Often places do look empty on casual glance - or google street view. People close shutters, park their cars in a garage, and don’t walk in the streets if nothing to walk to!

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I was thinking of Milan’s arrival in the village in L’Homme du Train

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À la recherche des les clés perdues… :face_with_hand_over_mouth:

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We have our house in a halfway village. It was around 2000 inhabitants at the start of 20th century, now down to 400 and just a boulanger+ groceries, architect (came last year) and a few builders/landscapers. Many of the houses are Maison secondaires owned by a mix of French and foreigners, and quite a few are falling down. Nearest town is Autun, about 20km away, also looking a bit empty.

It works well for us because we don’t want to be somewhere being developed with thousands of new house and all the traffic. I think if we had to uproot and move there tomorrow, after 2 years of the house there, we’ve made enough friends among locals and other second home owners to survive, but we have gone out of our way to be friendly to everyone.

Another thing to bear in mind is that some villages are seasonal.

Gordes and Lacoste, for instance, are popular and busy during the summer, with trendy restaurants, music events and commerce of the arts. In winter all the shutters are closed. No commerce. And the only thing moving in the cobbled hill streets are rolling tumbleweeds.

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Not unreasonably the above posts have concerned being in a village, but there are many communes that consist of several villages, just a couple of kms apart and where much of the social interaction is within the commune, rather being simply than village-based

You make it seem like the Karoo, or a spaghetti Western…


Tumbleweeds are what I call the rolling wool balls that exist in our household with two Doodles. It is all I can do to vacuum under the furniture and prevent woolly balls rolling across the floor and distracting a student.

Between the wool tumbleweeds and abseiling spiders I could easily be Miss Havisham.


We call it Tumblefluff :laughing:


Around us, it is where the Mairie is placed which makes it the village "le bourg.
The rest of the commune is sub-divided into hamlets…

but, yes, each area can be thriving in its own way… or all coming together to support major happenings in “le bourg”

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My Shiba Inu used to “blow” his outer coat two or three times per year, it wasn’t fluff but huge great tufts that you could actually sit and pull out and collect a great big pile. He did not like being brushed by me so that was a no-go and then about six weeks after he stopped he looked really thin until it all grew back again like a husky coat. Not a dog for the house proud I can tell you and my own clothes were always red fur covered.

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