The French real estate market is extremely popular with foreign buyers, many of which are attracted to France (either as a permanent home or a second home) by the various attractions that France offers. Top of the list with many buyers are the climate, food, wine and lifestyle. What many of these buyers may not realise however is the diversity of real estate which is also available in France. In addition to the standard types of homes which one finds in all modern countries, there are many unusual and character houses for sale in France.
These character properties include stone-built homes, farmhouses, chateau, stately homes, villas, chalets and so on. In addition to the house itself, one can find a large selection of properties for sale which offer additional features such as a lake (which is often a fishing lake), stream, sea frontage , outbuildings, large landscaped garden, very large plots of land (e.g. sufficient to keep horses), extra facilities (e.g. horse stables) and so on. Unlike some countries, finding such character homes or extra features is often not difficult as there is a large selection of properties for sale in France which offer them.
Although one can find character properties in every region of France, the types of properties which are available vary from region to region. For example:
- Ski chalets will be found only in the mountains and villas are almost always found in the hot south of France. This is largely due to the fact that the weather, which varies greatly from one region of France to another, affects the technical requirements of local buildings. For example, in mountain areas the roofs are typically steep in order to shed the heavy snowfalls. In the cool north, windows tend to face south in order to capture the sun while in the hot south they tend to face north to preserve the cool of the house during the long hot summers. Nor is it just the weather which affects building styles; factors such as soil composition and soil humidity determine factors such as the presence, depth and type of basements and foundations.
- Less obviously, certain building materials (e.g. granite stone) are used mainly in certain regions. Historically, transporting materials long distances was too expensive so each area adapted their house constructions to use local materials, be it a given type of stone, wood or other material. Although transportation is now less of an issue, most people consider it in bad taste to build in a style which is obviously not in keeping with the local region and in some cases local building regulations will prevent it.
- Similarly, many building styles (e.g. Chartreuse) are specific to given regions. Even decorative features such as wooden balconies or lilies growing in the apex of thatched houses tend to be regional.
Details on the various types of house styles, including which are regional and which are not, are provided at houses for sale in France. However, in this article we merely note the regional element and note that as a result, when one chooses a region, one thereby chooses the types of properties available.
Likewise, for certain property types, a decision to purchase that type of property determines which regions one can find a property in. Some people may think of this as a limitation. However, there are two advantages to this approach. The first advantage is that the use of a building style which is local to a region means that one has a building style which has adapted to local requirements and has been proven over hundreds of years. This avoids the disasters that one finds in a number of other countries (e.g. the building of mediterranean villa style houses in New Zealand, which at one point was very popular but which have been proven to be unsuitable to the New Zealand climate). The second advantage is that it is part of the regional culture. One of the attractions of France is that each region has its own distinct characteristics in terms of food, wine, climate, culture, dialects and so on. Regional architecture is another facet of this attraction.