French property roundup: Renovation grants to châteaux with vineyards

Vineyards in the Cahors area of southern France.
Vineyards in the Cahors area of southern France. Photo: Pascal Pavani/AFP
From government grants and building materials to the latest trend for vineyard châteaux, here is our weekly French property roundup.

Châteaux with vineyards

A restored chateau in the Aude département in south west France is now open for visitors, part of an increasing trend for œnotourisme or wine tourism.

Both tourism companies and private buyers have been restoring old properties in the wine-growing regions of France, particularly the comparatively-neglected Languedoc area, and opening them up to tourists who want to stay in a luxury location while experiencing the wine-growing culture around them.

The Château Capitoul between Narbonne and Gruissan is the latest example, set in 62 hectares of vineyards.

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Simplified renovation grants

If you’re doing a home renovation or work to upgrade your property, particularly if it improves the energy efficiency of the property, you could be entitled to government help.

However at present there are a lot of different schemes and grants that can be accessed, so finding the one that you need can be difficult. Added to this is the fact that many private companies have taken advantage of the confusion to scam vulnerable people through cold-calling about supposedly ‘government approved works’.

This is the situation the government aims to resolve with the creation, from January 1st 2022, of a single online portal for those planning renovation works. You put in details of the work you want to do, plus your income and personal circumstances and the portal will tell you how much help you are entitled to and where to apply for it.

Worth bearing in mind if you have works planned, and some of the schemes are also open to second-home owners.

Tax hikes

This is the season when property tax bills arrive and you may have noticed that these seem to be getting bigger. The property owners’ tax – taxe foncière – has skyrocketed in recent years, here’s why and which areas are worst affected.

Building materials

Talking of increasing costs, building materials including steel, cooper, PVC and timber have all been in short supply in France – recently linked to global supply chain disruption – and consequently prices have risen. So if you’re preparing for a renovation project on your French property it may be more expensive than you had anticipated.

Let’s move to . . . Orléans

France’s smaller cities and towns are becoming increasingly popular with property-buyers who still want the amenities of a town but are put off by the crowds and high property prices of cities like Paris and Marseille. 

Despite being the former home of the spirit of France herself (Joan of Arc) Orléans is often overlooked by visitors and property-buyers alike, despite is beautiful medieval city centre, position in the heart of the Loire Valley and lively calendar of festivals and events.

Here Orléans native Gwendoline Gaudicheau beats the drum for her hometown

French property vocab

If you are planning to do any work on your French property you may need a déclaration préalable – planning permission. There are two levels of permission required for works, a permis de construire or a declaration préalable. Which one you need depends on the size of the property and what you’re planning to do with it.

In general before you do any major works on your home – or anything that can be seen from the outside – it’s a good idea to check with your local mairie. Some regions have their own extra restrictions in addition to the national rules, especially if you are in a historic area or a mountainous region, so it’s a good idea to get any works approved in advance by the mayor to avoid accidentally breaking the rules.

Property tip of the week 

When it comes to furnishing your new place, check out the local brocante (vintage sale) and vide grenier (second-hand sale) to get low-cost furniture, fittings or crockery.

These sales are regular events especially in rural France and can be a great place to snap up a bargain, as well as enjoying the atmosphere.

READ ALSO Vide grenier and brocante: The written and unwritten rules of France’s second-hand sales

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