Where do the French have their second homes?

Where do the French have their second homes?
In Val Thorens in the French Alps, 89 percent of properties are second homes. Photo: AFP
When it comes to the long summer break, the French are much more likely to head to rural or coastal France than take an overseas trip.

And many French people have invested in a maison secondaire (second home) for their breaks away from the city.

France counts 3.4 million second homes, more than any other European nation, and while some of those are owned by foreigners, many are owned by French people. 

French newspaper Le Figaro, using data from the 2015 census collated by the national statistics agency INSEE, has revealed that the preferred destinations for French people to own a second homes are the Alps, the island of Corsica and the southern départements.


The rate of holiday homes in certain coastal towns and ski resorts can even exceed 80 percent.

Among the areas with the highest proportion of second homes are the island of Corsica and the Alpine departments of Savoie and Hautes-Alpes. The latter leads the way with 45 percent of its housing stock functioning as second homes.

Les Belleville, home to the Val Thorens ski resort, is the French commune with the highest proportion of second homes, at 89 percent. Sitting at 1,450m in altitude, the commune is almost entirely comprised of secondary residences.

Parts of the Mediterranean coast come close to equaling that record.

Leucate in southern France is dominated by holiday homes. Photo: AFP

A total of 85 percent of properties in the commune of Leucate, in the Aude department, are second homes. Beach-side towns on the west coast, such as as Arcachon (62 percent), are also in demand.

In terms of the number of holiday homes, Paris is by far the most popular destination.

In total 112,650 properties in the capital serve as second homes. Agde, in the south of France, is far behind in second place, with 33,193 second homes. The growing trend in Paris has been driven partly by the explosion in the number of properties being rented out via platforms such as Airbnb.

Residents' associations and local authorities have accused the increase in rental properties of driving locals out of cities such as Paris.

Since 2015, towns where demand for housing is superior to supply can impose a higher rate of housing tax upon second homes. The magazine Capital has compiled a list of the 218 communes which have chosen to exercise this new right.

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