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Are these the most desirable places in France to have a second home?

For most French people, the ideal second home is by the sea. But which of the country's stunning coastal locations make the top of the list?

Are these the most desirable places in France to have a second home?
Photo: AFP
The French have revealed the places they consider most desirable to own a second home and the top ten are all by the sea. 
 
Surveying around 1,200 web users, real estate website Explorimmo discovered where in France the French dream most of owning a second home. 
 
Top of the list was the Bassin d’Arcachon (see below) on the south west coast of France and just an hour from Bordeaux, with 21 percent of the people surveyed naming this as the place they most want to own a second home. 
 
And you can see why when you look at the pics.
 
(Graeme Churchard/Flickr)
 
(Bassin d'Arcachon. Photo: Twin Loc/Flickr)
Le bassin d’Arcachon. Photo:  JPC24M/Flickr 
 
After Arcachon,the most popular place for a second home in France was the chic Normandy coastal resort of Deauville.
 
The fact it is roughly two hours from Paris by car and slightly less by train has meant Deauville has been hugely popular with the capital's posher residents for decades.
 
Just check out the number of designer stores in town.
 
Photo: Thegoodlifefrance/Wikicommons
 
Deauville beach. Photo: Pinpin/WikiCommons
 
Unsurprisingly a Mediterranean location featured high on the list with the fishing port of Cassis making it to third place. 
 
Cassis. Photo: Amanda Snyder/Flickr
 
In fourth place was Sainte Maxime (16,5%) which lies on the French Riviera in between Toulon and Cannes.
 
(Saint-Maxime. Photo: Office de Tourisme Saint-Maxime/Facebook)
 
In fifth was the popular holiday island of Ile de Ré (16%) just off La Rochelle on the west coast of France.
 
Photo: Ile-de-Re. Giancarlo Foto4U/FLickr
 
Sixth was Biarritz (15%) – on the south west Basque Coast, which is home to some of the best beaches in the country.
 
Photo: Florian PépellinWikiCommons
 
Seventh was Quiberon (13%) a fairly wild peninsula on the southern coast of Brittany, which is also home to some stunning beaches.
 
 
(Photo: Peter Stenzel)
 
Then in eighth was Saint-Jean de Luz (12,5%), not far from Biarritz on the south west Basque Coast.
 
Photo: Aslak Raanes/Flickr
 
The ninth most popular place was Ramatuelle (12%), near Saint-Tropez on the French Riviera.
 
Ramatuelle. Photo: PasabanaWikiCommons
 
And finally Porto-Vecchio (11%) in southern Corsica was the tenth most desirable place in France to have a holiday home.
 
(AFP)
 
Over the past 12 months, the market for second homes has started to bounce back since a dip that started when the financial crisis hit in 2008. 
 
The survey also revealed some other factors the French are taking into consideration when it comes to their second homes. 
 
Apparently most French people believe the ideal second residence would be an apartment rather than a house, and with one out of three of them aiming to buy a second home in the next three years for a maximum budget of €250,000, perhaps this makes sense. 
 
And of course, people want their second home to be easily accessible from their first. Of the people surveyed 41 percent of them said their ideal second residence would be less than three hours away from their main home by car.
 
The survey also showed that 38 percent of people would want to start renting it out quickly to make it profitable. 
 
In 2016, the French there were 3.3 million second homes in France, accounting for 9.4 percent of the country's total housing stock. 
 
French national statistics office Insee describing a second home as “housing used for weekends, hobbies and holidays”, including furnished homes rented out to tourists. 
 
 
 
 
 

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PROPERTY

MAP: Where in France can you buy property for less than €100k?

While French cities such as Paris are notoriously expensive, there are many areas outside the cities where it is still possible to buy spacious homes for less than €100,000 - particularly if you don't mind a bit of renovation.

MAP: Where in France can you buy property for less than €100k?

We decided to look at where in France you could afford a property on a budget of €100,000, and it turns out there are some bargains to be had.

There are a lot of caveats while searching for property, and many local variables in place, but our search does show some of the areas to concentrate on if you have a limited budget.

We used the Notaires de France immobilier website in August 2022, and we specified that the property should have at least five rooms (including kitchen and bathroom) and a floor space of at least 100 square metres.

We also discounted any property that was for sale under the viager system – a complicated purchase method which allows the resident to release equity on their property gradually, as the buyer puts down a lump sum in advance and then pays what is effectively a rent for the rest of the seller’s lifetime, while allowing them to remain in the property.

READ ALSO Viager: The French property system that can lead to a bargain

For a five-room, 100 square metre property at under €100,000, you won’t find anywhere in the Île-de-France region, where the proximity of Paris pushes up property prices. The city itself is famously expensive, but much of the greater Paris region is within commuting distance, which means pricier property. 

Equally the island of Corsica – where prices are pushed up by its popularity as a tourist destination – showed no properties for sale while the region of Provence-Alpes-Côte d’Azur – which includes the French Riviera – showed only 1 property under €100,000.

The very presence of Bordeaux, meanwhile, takes the entire département of Gironde out of this equation – but that doesn’t mean that the southwest is completely out of the running. A total of 25 properties came up in the Nouvelle Aquitaine region. One property was on the market for a mere €20,000 – but it was, as the Notaires’ brochure noted, in need of “complete renovation”.

Neighbouring Occitanie, meanwhile, showed 12 further properties in the bracket.

By far the most properties on the day of our search – 67 – were to be found in the Grand Est region of eastern France. The eastern part of France overall comes out best for property bargains, with the north-east region of Hauts-de-France showing 38 properties and and Bourgogne-Franche-Comté displaying 25.

Further south, however, the presence of the Alps – another popular tourist destination – pushed up prices in the Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes region which showed just three results.

The below map shows our search results, with darker colours indicating more cheap properties.

Property buying tips 

In order to make a comparison, we focused our search on properties advertised online, but if you have a specific area in mind it's well worth making friends with a few local real estate agents and perhaps also the mayor, since it's common for properties not to be advertised online.

Most of the truly 'bargain' properties are described as being "in need of renovation" - which is real estate speak for a complete wreck.

If you don't mind doing a bit of work you can often pick up property for low prices, but you need to do a clear-eyed assessment of exactly how much work you are willing and able to do, and what the cost is likely to be - there's no point getting a "cheap" house and then spending three times the purchase price on renovations.

READ ALSO 'Double your budget and make friends with the mayor' - tips for French property renovation

That said, there were plenty of properties at or near the €100,000 mark that were perfectly liveable or needed only relatively minor renovations.

You also need to pay attention to the location, as the sub-€100,000 properties are often in remote areas or very small villages with limited access to amenities. While this lifestyle suits many people, bear in mind that owning a car is a requirement and you may end up paying extra for certain services.

Finally remember that government help, in the form of loans and grants, is available for environmentally friendly improvements, such as insulation or glazing.

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