France’s seductive lifestyle has made it a favourite holiday home destination for generations thanks to its wondrous history, inspiring culture and fabulously diverse countryside.
The French lifestyle is based around a celebration of life’s simple pleasures, a leisurely enjoyment of food and wine with family and friends — pleasures that have extra resonance as we emerge from lockdown.
From historic cities packed with thrilling architecture to rural landscapes of vines, sunflowers and lavender, from coasts on both the Atlantic and Mediterranean to celebrated Alpine resorts, France covers all the bases.
Finding peaceful isolation is easy in a country twice the size of the UK, while excellent air, rail and road connections make it a convenient option.
“The property market has been remarkably busy since lockdown measures began to ease in France in Mid-May,” says Jack Harris of Knight Frank.
“Travel restrictions mean that initially we witnessed a wave of domestic French appetite and now that has been followed by international buyers. There is definite pent-up demand resulting in a high number of enquiries and an encouraging number of transactions at all price points.”
Harris cites the French lifestyle as a major factor in Britons’ decisions to consider a French holiday home, along with the recent emphasis on working from home. “As more people realise they can feasibly work remotely, they see they can use a holiday home more frequently than they initially anticipated,” he adds.
The increased desire for rural property is something that Jelena Cvjetkovic of Savills has also noted. “The British love affair with France has not waned and we are seeing plenty of interest, notably in the southwest around the Dordogne,” she says.
“Today’s buyer is looking for something a little more rural but by no means remote with plenty of outdoor space and that all-important wifi. We anticipate buyers will choose to spend more time in their second homes, perhaps staying for longer periods of time rather than frequent shorter trips.”
Buying a home in France
Inspired to start house hunting? France is now open after its own lengthy and strict Covid-19 lockdown and as it is on the UK Government’s list of safe travel corridors, there is no need to self-isolate either on arrival or return from a trip there.
Eurostar and Eurotunnel are both operating regular services and BA, Air France, easyJet and Ryanair are flying from the UK to France.
Since July 20, masks are compulsory in most public spaces. For the latest information, bookmark https://www.gouvernement.fr/info-coronavirus.
Throughout the transition period, France, along with all of the EU, has kept the same rules as pre-Brexit and anyone who becomes a resident in France before December 31, 2020 will keep all their current EU rights, pensions and healthcare.
Anyone buying a holiday home in France and planning to stay less than three months a year should not see any change at all to the process after the transition period. It is possible, though not confirmed, that Britons who wish to stay for longer than six months at a time, for example, retirees, students and workers, might require a visa.
So while it might be bureaucratically easier to buy property before Brexit is completed this coming New Year’s Eve, it will still be legal and a relatively straightforward process afterwards, just as it is for many non-EU citizens now.
It is possible that non-EU residents may not be able to borrow as much for a mortgage as EU residents can — though this has not been confirmed.
But as Jack Harris from Knight Frank points out, mortgage rates are currently historically low across Europe, allowing buyers to stretch their budgets further.