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French property face-off: The Vendée vs Limousin

Would you prefer a converted mill in the Vendée or a renovated barn in the Limousin region of France? Take a look at these two very different revamped properties in France that are on the market and decide what would you rather spend your money on.

French property face-off: The Vendée vs Limousin
The old barn or the old mill? What would you spend your money on? Photo: Leggett

When it comes to buying property in France, there are endless alternatives, but many people love to buy an old property and renovate it.

For this week's French property Face-off, readers have the difficult choice between two unusual properties, a converted mill near the coast of Western France for a bargain €130,800 ($166,000), or a more expensive but also much larger barn conversion in the Limousin region of central France for €375,000 ($477,000).

The mill could be used as a private romantic get-away, or rented out to tourists wanting to make their stay in France a little more unique.

With enough space to put up a huge family, the barn offers lots of possibilities too. You could turn it into a Bed & Breakfast or get a couple of farm animals to make use of the many hectares of land. 

Take a look through the gallery of images and see which one you would rather get your hands on, money permitting of course.

French property face-off – Which converted property suits you?

These properties are on the market with the estate agents Leggett. You can find out more information on the converted mill by CLICKING HERE.

And if you prefer the barn then you can get more information on it by CLICKING HERE.

by Simone Flückliger

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CRIME

EXPLAINED: How to find a lawyer in France

The French legal system can be complicated, so in many circumstances it's better to have a lawyer on board. Luckily, there are a lot of qualified, English-speaking lawyers in France - here's how to find them.

EXPLAINED: How to find a lawyer in France

First steps

First, you need to know exactly what it is you are looking to address – is it an immigration issue? Property-related? Are you caught up in the criminal system?

This will help you to determine the type of expert that you need.

If your concern deals with property or a will, you probably want a notaire rather than an avocat (explained below).

All lawyers in France must have at least a CAPA (Certificat d’Aptitude à la Profession d’Avocat) master’s degree in law. After working for four years, French lawyers are able to work toward a specialisation.

Next, you need to decide whether you are confident enough in your French to seek out legal advice in French, or if you will need a fully bilingual lawyer. Don’t worry – there are plenty of lawyers in France who speak English, but unsurprisingly it will be easier to find a lawyer in French. 

Where should I look?

A good resource available to you is your Embassy and its website, as well as the websites for other English-speaking countries’ embassies. For example, the British, American, and Australian embassies all have extensive lists of recommended English-speaking lawyers in France (by region and speciality). 

Other online resources include the website “AngloInfo,” along with Facebook groups moderated by lawyers and notaires (ex. Strictly Legal France). 

If you are confident enough to go through the French system in French, then you can search directly through your local barreau (bar) via their online annuaire (directory). 

One thing to keep in mind, according to Maître Matthieu Chirez, a criminal attorney at J.P. Karsenty & Associés law firm, which is one of the British Embassy’s recommended law firms, is that foreigners ought to be vigilant when using the internet to find a lawyer.

“The lawyers who are most visible on the internet are not always the best,” said Chirez. “It is always best to go through your embassy first.” 

What criteria should I prioritise?

It is worth considering your lawyer’s level of expertise: How many cases similar to yours have they handled? How long have they been practising law? Do they come recommended? By going through your Embassy’s resources, you can have more peace of mind that the lawyer you would be working with fits these criteria. 

You should also prioritise your own rapport with the lawyer. If possible, try to schedule a preliminary meeting or consultation (before doing so, be sure to check to see whether this will be charged or not). This will help you also determine whether the lawyer has a satisfactory level of English for your needs.

What is the difference between a notaire and an avocat?

A notaire’s role is to secure and make official concerns related to a “sale, purchase, or transmission” or a property, as explained Chirez.

A notaire cannot represent you in court, but they will be necessary for making official matters related to succession, like writing your Will, for instance, and officially registering the sale of a property. A property sale in France cannot be legally completed without the involvement of a notaire.

It is important to note that a notaire is a representative of the French state, so having a personal lawyer looking out for your individual best interest during a sale or purchase might still be advisable.

And yes, avocat means both lawyer and avocado in French.

READ MORE: The reasons why you’ll need a notaire in France

What about payment?

In France, it is the lawyer who sets his or her own fees – meaning it is not regulated by the State.

Average rates will depend on the ‘complexity of your case’ and the specialisation of your lawyer, but the average hourly rate for 2022 is between €100 and €300.

Criminal lawyers often charge more for drink-driving cases.

You can pay a lawyer either based on their hourly rate or by a flat-rate (usually reserved for simple procedures). When you find a lawyer, you will have to sign an agreement that outlines their fees, as well as various additional costs that might be incurred.

If you cannot afford to pay your lawyer, you might be able to qualify for legal aid (though for this you must demonstrate a sufficiently low income/ wealth status). The rate of legal aid is calculated based off your earnings, and you can use the online calculator to see how much you would benefit HERE.

READ ALSO How do I find professional help with my French taxes?

Otherwise, you can check to see whether any “permenance juridiques” (legal clinics) will be held near you.

These tend to be free days where you can seek out legal support (though it is worth verifying it is indeed gratuite before going). For finding legal aid in France, you can use this government website, which is also available in English.

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