Becoming an expert on French architecture seems easy. Thirty minutes of a programme such as A Place in the Sun and Escape to the Continent is enough to give you an insight into French house styles.
At the top end of the scale, there are castles and manor houses, or châteaux. Although France is famous the world over for its châteaux, you don’t see many cropping up on TV relocation shows. With moats and turrets, these dream homes are beyond the budget of all but the most well-off.
A more affordable alternative is a maison de maître, although these are also at the pricier end of the market. A master’s house benefits from large rooms with high ceilings, and they are often pleasingly symmetrical.
What seem to attract British buyers in France most, however, are farms and longères.
Farms – or fermes, in French – tend to be smaller than those in England but are just as rustic. Appealingly, they generally have plenty of outbuildings ripe for renovation into gîtes too. The prospect of running a holiday home complex seems perennially popular with Britons moving abroad – myself included – so farms remain in demand among foreign buyers.
“For buyers looking to their retirement, longères offer all the convenience of a bungalow but with considerably more charm”
Longères are long, rectangular, single-storey buildings that are particularly common in Brittany and Normandy. For British buyers who are looking to their retirement, they offer all the convenience of a bungalow but with considerably more charm.
Much further south, in Provence, you can also find the traditional mas home – a stone house, similar in style to a ferme but smaller. There are, of course, the tardis-like terraced village houses too.
If you don’t believe me, just tune into an episode of one of the relocation programmes set in France and you’ll soon see what I mean.