Property prices in French cities continue to soar

Property prices in cities across France are continuing their rapid upward movement, with Paris as ever leading the charge and Lyon and Nantes zooming ahead.

Property prices in French cities continue to soar
Property prices in Lyon have risen 11 percent over the past year. Photo: AFP

The southern cities of Nice, Marseille and Montpellier, all of which suffer from high unemployment, are bucking the trend, with only minor real estate price rises.

In the country as a whole, the price per square metre has gone up by just under three percent between September and October, according to the latest figures compiled by Le Parisien newspaper.

But in the big cities, prices have rocketed over the past year.

Lyon saw a rise of a whopping 11.1 percent to an average of 4,501 euros, Nantes prices rose by 8.6 percent to 3,231 euros, and in Toulouse they went up by 6.7 percent to reach 3,106 euros.

“The property market is a reflection of the economic and demographic dynamism of these regional capitals,” Thomas Lefebvre of mortgage broker  MeilleursAgents told Le Parisien.

The northern city of Lille, which is enjoying something of a renaissance with rapid growth in businesses after years of stagnation, also saw its house and apartment prices rise to 2,836 euros per square metre.

Paris, as ever, remains by far the most expensive city in the country and has seen its property prices rise to yet another record high.

They now stand at 10,115 euros per square metre.

“Demand remains very high in Paris and low interest rates are going to continue to fuel the movement,” said Lefebvre of  MeilleursAgents, which along with Le Parisien compiles the paper’s property index using data from estate agents, government figures, and notaries’ records. 

Nice, Marseille and Montpellier have all three failed to shine in the latest index, with prices remaining stagnant or showing only a minor rise. 

They stood at 4,107 euros in Nice, 2,565 in Marseille, and 2,895 in Montpellier.


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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.