Farming in France

Farming in France

Photo By Olivier Ffrench


French Property Insider

January 21, 2010
Paris, France

Bonjour French Property Insider Subscriber,

Today we have more news about the squatters in the Place des Vosges…how they’ve been ordered to leave and why they won’t! In addition, one couple has been left out in the cold thanks to squatters in their own home. It’s an interesting dilemma — seems the laws designed to protect consumers are backfiring. Read all about it in today’s issue of FPI.

There is concern in the Alps that the snow line is pushing upward thanks to global warming, playing havoc on the ski and resort industry. The warning is clear that it is no longer one of Europe’s best investments. Read more about it in today’s issue.

And of primary focus today is the topic of land — rural France where one might want to commune with the earth, as a farmer, wine grower and producer, host equestrian activities, or produce artisanal products. What better way to really get to know France and the French?

Renting or buying land could be just what’s right for your future. Learn more about it, the price you can expect to pay and the agencies that are designed to help and protect you in today’s issue. Then, be sure to peruse the Hot Properties for a piece of the earth you perhaps can’t live without!

Meanwhile, it’s cold and damp at the height of winter (in most places!) and a perfect time to stay in and read all about your future life in France here with FPI.

A bientôt,

Adrian Leeds
Adrian LeedsEditor, French Property Insider

P.S. Take the fast track to French property bargains…Affordable cottages, farmhouses, city apartments, and seaside retreats. Delectable food and wine… culture and history on every doorstep… first-class infrastructure… the world’s best healthcare system. Scroll down to read how you can have your own copy of the France Owner’s Manual or go to!

Volume VIII, Issue 3, January 21, 2010

In this issue:

* SAFER Farm Sales in France
* Digging into Farm Ownership
* And Yet Another French Property Show
* Squatter Saga Continues
* Could This Property be for You?
* Doing Battle with a Stubborn Tenant
* Learn How to Live in France: The Owner’s Manual
* FPI Fractional Property Offerings – Two New Properties!
* Global Warming May Affect Ski Property Investments
* House Hunters International- Paris, Next Month
* Moneycorp: Take the Risk Out of Currency Conversion
* Call for Unity in Squatter Scuffle
* How You Can Get a Free Property Consultation
* Parler Paris Apartments: Le Bac Marché
* Hot Properties: Fancying French Farms
* Notaires’ Auction: January 19th Results
* How You Can Obtain a Mortgage in France
* Parler Paris Après-Midi: Next Gathering Feb. 9th
* Managing Your FPI Subscription
* Subscribers Receive Discount on Insider Paris Guides

French Farm Sales and the Role of SAFER

SAFER (Société d’aménagement foncier et d’établissement rural) is a body you will certainly come across if you are seeking to buy property in the French countryside.

This government agency has the right of first purchase on most rural property that comes onto the market in France.

So although you may think you have sealed the deal when you sign the sale contract with your seller, in fact the property is not quite yours until SAFER have had their say.

The right of first refusal by SAFER is called the droit de pre-emption.

This is effectively a right of substitution, in which the original buyer of the property is obliged to give way to the public agency.

In the process of purchase of the property, ‘purging’ of the rights of SAFER is carried out by the notaire, whose responsibility it is to write to SAFER asking them if they want to buy the property.

SAFER have two months from the date they are notified of the details of the prospective sale to make up their mind. If you are in a hurry, there is an ‘express’ service to get their response, provided you are prepared to pay extra for it.

Within each department there is a minimal land area determined by the prefecture below which SAFER does not have the right of pre-emption.

However, in some areas of the country this threshold is very low, so a small house in the country with an acre of land may still be subject to the pre-emption process!

In practice, although SAFER are omnipresent in the sale of strictly agricultural land and buildings, the vast majority of other rural property sales go through without them showing any interest.

Not Compulsory Purchase

Contrary to popular belief, their right of first purchase is not a right of expropriation; SAFER do not have powers of compulsory purchase, and no owner is obliged to sell to them.

SAFER can only pre-empt at the sale price and on the other terms stated in the sale contract. However, if they disagree with the price, then they can bring a legal action in the courts for a judge to make a decision on the sale price. If the owner is in a hurry to sell, it does then put heavy pressure on them to deal with SAFER, or face years of litigation.

Nothing prevents the owner from taking the property off the market if they do not agree with SAFER, but more often than not, a negotiated price is agreed…

Read the entire article at

Becoming a Farmer or Land Owner in France
Compiled by Adrian Leeds

Excerpts from and

Have you thought of becoming a resident of rural France?…Farming, agriculture, wine growing and producing, equestrian activities, artisanal products production or other activities that attach you directly to the earth? It may sound very romantic to be growing grapes and producing your favorite wine, but is it really right for you?

Because the world of farming in France is complex, you should prepare your project well in advance.

A prime question is whether it makes more sense to rent or purchase your land and/or farm. Farms available on the French market are mostly available both for sale and for rent.

Buying a farm is a guarantee of security but the financial aspect can be a sizeable obstacle. This requires a great deal of capital at the time of installation, and may incur for you relatively high reimbursement costs. In addition to purchase of property the leasing of land (or rental) close to a farm can back up the latter, without entailing any excessive financial burden. Sellers are also aware that it is difficult to find a buyer and evaluating the true worth of the farm, if the whole property is for sale. Often the sellers will also look for a mixed sale and rental solution (valorizing in parallel the sale of the farm’s capital).

Buying Through SAFER

The Société d’Amenagément Foncier et d’Establissement Rural (SAFER)group is comprised of 27, working across the whole of French territory: 24 in continental France and 3 in overseas counties.
Created by the agricultural laws of 1960 and 1962, they have over 40 years experience in the field and are non-profit to carry out a public service mission. The land market in France is therefore controlled and is governed by a structures policy implemented since the 1960s. It is within this context that SAFER was created.

A few statistics:

- 24 SAFER companies in continental France, 3 overseas
1,000 staff members
– 2,000 members of county technical committees
– 84,000 hectares bought and sold annually (i.e. around 2

of the land market)
– 9,600 acquisitions per year, of which 15% by preemption and 6% by exchange
– 87% of land area resold for agricultural use
– 38% of land resold in favor of installation
– 37% of initial installations outside the family circle, are accompanied by SAFER.
– Over 3,700 agreements signed with the authorities
– over 1,400 hectares allocated to the protection of nature and the environment
– 5,580 provision agreements, covering 69,000 hectares
– Rural property observatory: 240,000 notifications of sale in 2008 sent by Notaries to SAFER.

Finding a property with SAFER:, has more than 1,000 french properties for sale up-dated every day…and the entire SAFER network at your service!

Finding a property with ADASEA:

The ADASEA network contains properties for rent or in association, in addition to offers for sale.

Not all the property offers are on Internet. Be sure to get in touch with your regional or county ADASEA or SAFER e-correspondent, for a personal interview.

Estate agencies and notaries can also make property offers to you. Nevertheless, unlike SAFER and ADASEA, most agencies and notaries do not work with you in the realization of your projects.

What can you expect the land to cost?

Terres d’Europe-Scafr (Advisory service for rural land development) distributes information concerning the French rural land market and analyses its evolution. This information comes from notaries forwarding notification of all rural properties sold on the French market. They are communicated by the Safer to Terres d’Europe-Scafr and have been the basis of the National Observatory of the Rural Land Market for over 30 years.

French Building Land Prices in 2008

The price of building land in France averaged €54m² in 2008, although there were substantial regional and more local variations.

The figures come from an annual study of building land prices carried out each year by the statistical service of the French Government.

They show that on average prices increased by 6% over 2007, after twelve successive years of double digit growth.

As the average surface area of the plots reduced from 1284m² in 2007 to 1240m² in 2008 this kept down the price increase for each plot to 2.9% (8.9% in 2007).

The cheapest building plots could be found in the Limousin, where they sold for an average of €14m², the same price as in 2007.

The most expensive area was the Ile de France, where prices per plot averaged €190m², slightly down on the figure for 2007.

Average Prices for Building Land – 2008

Region Price per m Plot Size Plot Price
Alsace 106 854 90,982
Aquitaine 40 1591 63,568
Auvergne 26 1511 39,636

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, Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif">53

1006 53,207
Burgundy 31 1383 42,660
Centre 41 1216 49,820
Champagne-Ardenne 43 1107 47,864
Franche-Comté 34 1393 47,005
Ile-de-France 190 824 156,387
Languedoc Roussillon 114 836 94,897
Limousin 14 2057 29,715
Lorraine 45 1113 50,369
Lower-Normandy 27 1595 43,152
Midi Pyrénées 35 1756 60,619
Nord Pas de Calais 60 1106 65,793
Pays de la Loire 57 962 55,279
Picardy 53 1035 54,380
Poitou Charentes 33 1272 42,286
Provence Alpes Cote d’Azur 112 1319 147,283
Rhne Alpes 86 1160 99,462
Upper-Normandy 43 1364 59,049
Average 54 1240 67,440

The above figures should only be used as a guide, as they do mask large variations in prices as between urban and rural locations. Thus, the average price for a building plot in Paris was €320m², whilst in rural areas it averaged €28m² across the country.

As might be expected, the size of the plots was also greater in the countryside than in the towns, with the former having an average plot size of 1556m², while in urban locations with a population greater than 100,000 it averaged less than 1000m².

The study also examined actual building costs and found that the average cost across the country was €1047m². As the average external surface area of the properties was 134m² this gave an average build cost of €140,000.

Lowest building costs could be found in Centre at €942m², while highest costs were in the Ile de France at €1172m² (excluding Corsica, which was slightly higher).

The price of land for 2008 is reported by SAFER in a publication which can be ordered online by visiting:

A Place in The Sun Property Exhibition

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The next A Place in the Sun Live takes place at Earls Court, London on 26th – 28th March 2010.

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Squatters Ordered to Quit 17th-century Paris Mansion
By Lizzy Davies

For two and a half months they have been the illicit residents of one of Paris’s most desirable properties, a 17th-century mansion where Madame de Sévigné was born and Isadora Duncan lived with her lover.

But today the squatters of housing association Jeudi Noir (Black Thursday) were told their time in the Place des Vosges was finally up. A court ordered them to vacate the premises within a week – or face forcible expulsion by the police.

The ruling, which was described by the activists as "very harsh", brought to an end a 10-week occupation designed to draw attention to the city’s chronic housing problems.

The Jeudi Noir group, which included students, journalists and architects, wanted to show that, while rents are sky-high and social housing is hugely over-subscribed, Paris is awash with vacant properties.

They claim the hôtel particulier in the chic M

ais district had lain empty for decades before they took it over at the end of October. However, lawyers acting as legal guardians of the owner, the 87-year-old banking heiress Béatrice ­Cottin, insist the property is their client’s chief residence.

They had requested €140,000 (£123,000) in damages from Jeudi Noir, a sum that would have crippled the association. But, perhaps swayed by support for the movement from Paris’s Socialist and Green party authorities, the court chose a path of relative leniency and ordered the group to pay compensation of €3,400 for every month of the occupation.

Today Jeudi Noir hung a banner from the windows of its adopted home reading "no reaction". A spokesman for the group, Julien Bavou, said the verdict meant the students in the squat would have to leave "immediately and in midwinter". "It’s a very harsh verdict, designed to intimidate us," he added…

Read the entire article at

HOT PROPERTY! Proven Rental Studio on rue de Picardie €237,500

This 25m² (270 sq. ft.) studio pied-à-terre in the heart of the Haut Marais just off rue de Bretagne is on the first floor (European — one short flight of stairs) on a quiet street, rue de Picardie, near the Mairie of the 3rd district and the Square du Temple. This historically designated apartment has all new furnishings and a brand new well-equipped kitchen. The three large windows can be opened for ventilation with little street noise. The exposed oak beamed ceiling adds charm and character and is testament to the 1700s construction. The apartment accommodates four on a double bed and a double futon. A drop-leaf table allows up to six to dine. For guests’ clothing there is a large armoire. The bathroom is large enough for a bathtub with a shower. This apartment is a proven short-term vacation apartment and comes furnished and ready to go! Nothing to do but ‘sign on the dotted line.’

Asking Price €237,500. For more photos, visit, and for more information contact

Couple Homeless After Tenant Refuses to Leave
By David Yeates

Christine Baxter and her husband moved to France in March 2007 with their son and grandson, and purchased a large three storey terraced house in the village of Champagnac Les Mines, in the Cantal department of Auvergne.

Mrs Baxter is 60 years old and is severely disabled. Her husband of 63 years also suffers from the lung disease emphysema.

‘When we agreed terms for the purchase of the property we knew there were three tenants in occupation, but we were assured that they would all move out as part of the sale of the property. Indeed, the sale contract said as much’, explained Christine.

‘However, when we turned up at the property as the new owners, we found that one of the tenants was still actually living there!’

‘He made it clear to us in no uncertain terms that, although he was very sympathetic to our predicament, he had no intention of moving out’, she added.

The tenant also laid claim to a garage that was attached to the property, which the couple were going to use for the installation of a disabled lift.

With the property in need of renovation and without a lift available, Christine and her family were unable to move into the property, even with the upstairs tenant present.

As a result, they were obliged to decamp to hotels, camp sites and bed and breakfast houses, before finally being able to move into a holiday property provided to them by friends…

Read the entire article at


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More information available at

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Ski Property Faces Meltdown as Global Warming Chills the Market
By Graham Norwood

There may be a global freeze on at the moment but Britons who own and let flats and chalets at ski resorts could face a threat to their investments – thanks to a long-term shortage of snow.

Recent weeks have seen huge snowfalls in the UK, on mainland Europe and across North America, but research by Unesco’s environment programme suggests long-term global warming will push the snowline up worldwide in years to come.

European ski resorts range from very low-lying ones, such as Lillehammer in Norway which is just 180 metres above sea level, to a few approaching 4,000 metres at Chamonix in the French Alps. In North America resorts are generally higher, ranging from 1,500 to 4,000 metres, especially in the most mountainous areas like Colorado.

If scientists are correct, Austria might see the most spectacular change; its snowline will rise a startling 300 metres by 2050. Sooner than that, the French Snow Research Centre says a 1.8C rise in temperature will shorten France’s snow cover above 1,500 metres from 170 days to 135. Switzerland’s Association of Winter Sports Resorts says its annual season has been cut by 12 days, just since 1995.

There are no authoritative figures on the international ownership of ski homes but between 2004 and 2007, around 70% of all flats and chalets sold in one large resort in the French Alps were bought by Britons, and dozens of British estate agents market ski properties in Europe and North America. Now they – and the developers behind the resorts – are trying to avoid this lucrative market being consigned to history.

"Many ski towns have been trying to ensure that they’re ‘year round’ to attract visitors in the summer as well as the winter," says Andrew Hawkins of Chesterton Humberts estate agency…

Read the entire article at

Photo credit: Gavin Hellier

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Studio Apartment, with Air Conditioning
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Le Bac Marché is equipped with a Murphy bed which descends from its hiding spot at night to provide a comfortable sleeping experience, and then goes neatly back into place to provide plenty of daytime living space. Also in this room is a dining table, a plush sofa with ample pillows and a beautiful, large cabinet with dishes and storage space. There is hanging space along an adjoining wall. Also provided is a flat screen television, telephone and high-speed Internet, all included in the price of your rental. Calls to over 50 international destinations are free of charge. In the next room is the well equipped kitchen, with a modern two-burner stove, a full sized traditional oven, as well as a microwave and refrigerator. All cookware and utensils are provided should you want to make your own meals. The bathroom comes with a toilet, full sized stand up shower stall and a separate washer and dryer. High quality sheets and towels are provided for your stay.

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HOT PROPERTY PICKS: Fancying French Farms

Each week French Property Insider features a range of properties which we believe are on the market at the time of writing. These properties are featured in order to give readers a sample of what is currently available and a working example of prices being asked in various regions of France and districts of Paris.

This week we focus on rural and farm properties throughout France.

*** Midi-Pyrenees, Auch: Three-bedroom, approx. 180m²

Stone farmhouse with large outbuildings to restore set on 1.5 hectares of land in the Gers. The main house offers over 180m² of living space which includes three bedrooms, a kitchen with fireplace and dining room, also with a fireplace, all on the ground floor. Upstairs is a convertible attic. The three outbuildings are a large cowshed and wine cellar, a large barn and another large building. It would be possible to purchase additional land.

Asking Price: € 214 000 + 2% finders fee


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*** Aquitaine, Saint-Pardoux-La-Riviere: Three-bedroom, approx. 147m²

This spacious rural property is well maintained but needs a little additional care and attention. Sitting in 12 hectares of good grazing land it has all sorts of potential as a family home, a tourist stop-off, or even a small equestrian center. The house is a sturdy, exposed stone-built, partially single-storey with thick walls for winter warmth and for summer coolness. Among its abundance of attractive feature is a cantilevered tiled porch over the main entrance. Inside some of the ceilings are close-boarded with exposed timber beams.

Asking Price: €299 000 + 2% finders fee



***Western Loire, La Roche sur Yon: Two-bedroom, approx. 45m²

Traditional Stone Farmhouse set on over 20 acres of land suitable for horses, with good views over valley located in a small hamlet on the outskirts of a popular village with shops and services. The main house is comprised of a large living area with stone walls, tiled floor, fireplace and beams, large kitchen with plenty of storage and fireplace, large reception area/dining room with tiled floor and fireplace and bedroom/office. Upstairs is a vast master bedroom with wooden floors and beams (can be split), child’s bedroom, plus another large bathroom with wc and separate shower. The property was renovated in 2003.

Asking Price: € 330 000 + 2% finders fee



*** Languedoc-Roussillon, Perpignan: Six-bedroom, approx. 200m²

In the heart of the Vallespir area, south facing and offering breathtaking views over the mountains. This property consists of two houses, one a beautiful stone farmhouse, the other a smaller house. All on 7 hectares of land. The main farmhouse is around 130m² total living space and offers four bedrooms. The other house is around 70m² and not attached to the main one. It has two bedrooms (actually rented as a gite business). The property is enchanting with around 3000m² that is flat on terraces.

Asking Price: € 475 000 + 2% finders fee


Results of the Notaires’ Property Auction January 19,2010

Notaires de Paris
Place du Châtelet
12 avenue Victoria
Paris 1st


Additional information on Les Ventes aux Enchères des Notaires can be found on the Web site at

To read Schuyler Hoffman’s article about the property auctions in Paris, click on:


  The following properties were auctioned off January 19,2010:    


2 Rooms 59m² plus garage
78 rue de la Tour Maubourg
750014- PARIS 7eme
Starting Bid: 946 000,00 €
Sold For: 1 100 000,00 €




2 Rooms 35m²
188 bis rue de Crimée
75019 – PARIS 19eme
Starting Bid: 89 600,00 €
Sold For: 132 000,00 €




2 Rooms 38m²
20 Cour des Petites Ecuries
75010 – PARIS 10eme
Starting Bid: 120 000,00 €
Sold For: 230 000,00 €




2 Rooms 40m²
7 rue de la Durance
75012 – PARIS 12eme
Starting Bid: 160 000,00 €
Sold For: 250 000,00 €



Editor’s Note: If you look at the properties on the Notaire’s site (, when you click on the information for a particular property there is also a link to Google Maps to show you exactly where the property is located.

Squatters of the World, Unite!
By Jessica Reed

It’s a well-known fact that renting a flat in Paris is a arduous process with many socioeconomic barriers. It is exceptionally hard when you are not well off, and almost impossible, as French-Algerian writer Faiza Guene explained, if you are also from a visible minority: many estate agents will just not allow you to visit flats and ignore your phonecalls. If you are looking to rent while at university, when rent will be up to 60% of an average student’s budget, it might be best to give up now and, like some do every year, live on a campsite.

Back when I briefly entertained the idea of moving to Paris at 17 to attend university, my mother was adamant I would never manage to find a place to live (and as it turned out, I studied in Brittany). We didn’t have any friends or relatives looking to rent their place and crucially, my mother did not have the means to co-sign any rental contract which would guarantee payments every month. This may sound archaic, but most landlords in Paris not only demand a hefty deposit, but also string of legal documents proving that a third party, usually the parents, have the monetary means to act as a buffer and pay rent when the occupant fails to do so. This clause is the most important impediment to young people with a modest income wanting to rent their own place, and government-led alternatives are few and far between: there are 350,000 scholarship students in Paris, but only 30,000 rooms in student residences offered by the university association Crous.

Faced with the impossibility of proving they’re reliable renters, students and impoverished workers turn to other alternatives: intergenerational colocations (in which a student will help an elderly person in exchange for cheap rent), sublettings, squatting, staying with relatives or even turning to arrangements made with unscrupulous men looking for "housemates with benefits".

This housing crisis spurted the growth of Jeudi Noir (Black Thursday, named after the weekly release of the PAP, the main publication in France for classified housing ads) a group aiming to put housing issues on the political agenda. For the last two and a half months, activists have occupied the very posh 1er Place des Vosges, a luxurious Parisian address which once housed Madame de Sévigné and Isadora Duncan. The building, owned by the 87-year-old banking heiress Béatrice ­Cottin, had been empty for four decades. By squatting the 1,300sq-metre building, Jeudi Noir hopes to highlight the fact that one out of 10 buildings in Paris are vacant premises, which they think could be put to good use. While some of the squatters are students, many are also professionals: architects, journalists, even a violinist. They are probably there to make a point, rather than out of sheer necessity, and can afford to be under the media spotlight (as sans-papiers could not).

The collective is drawing increasing support from the public, as well as respected NGOs such the Fondation Abbé Pierre. Politicians have also joined the debate: the Green party has voiced its cautious backing and socialist Jean-Yves Mano, who oversees housing strategy for the mayor’s office, publicly lauded the group…

Read the entire article at

Photo credit: Neno° on Flickr (


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1 square meter = 10.7639104 square feet

1 hectare = 2.4710538 acres

For more conversions, refer to:

Parler Paris Aprs Midi: Next Meeting

Parler Paris Apres Midi

The second Tuesday of every month, Parler Paris and French Property Insider readers gather at La Pierre du Marais for a drink and a "schmooze" –It’s an opportunity to meet and chat with other like-minded people and a great way to make friends! Costs nothing except your drinks. Don’t miss the next gathering Tuesday, February 9th, 2010 from 3 to 5 p.m. and every second Tuesday of the month (except August).



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