Mar 212017

Buyer beware! Buying a home can be fraught, and the problem is exacerbated when it is an international property! 1st for French Property offer the complete personal service to make the process easy. On the site you will find a legal guide to buying a property in France, the terms used by Estate agents (Immobilier/Notaires) see Guide to French Property Terms, and below is an introduction to the various French property types found across the country.

French Architectural Styles

french style

courtesy of

Ahh! French architecture is one of the most outstanding in the world, some say. There are so many French property types attractive to international buyers seeking holiday homes, investments or a residential home. So many architectural styles to choose from: Gallo-Roman, Pre-Romanesque, Romanesque, Medieval, Renaissance, Baroque, Rococo and Neoclassicism. The French have a way with design that others just don’t seem to have. They incorporate old world style along with modern architecture to create elegant homes.

Property Types in France

Each region can offer different property types and styles. The influences are many, and the various environments dictate a choice of styles – for example, you find ski chalets in the Alps and Pyrenees regions whereas in the south many properties will have terracotta tiles on the roofs. In the Loire Valley you find many splendid chateau (although chateaux are available across the country).


The chateau is one of the most unique properties although your budget may rule out this desired type of residence! The cheaper chateau regrettably can need huge renovation budgets! A chateau is defined as a large country house. Although the term is associated with “castles”.


Mas (Provencal Farmhouse)

Mas in Provence

Found typically in the Provence and Midi regions of France, the Mas is known to be a traditional farmhouse. These are very popular among the French. The Mas is an economical type of farm home often with land to grow fruits and vegetables.


A bastide is a local term in Provence for a manor house – typically larger and more elegant than a Mas. In last two centuries, many bastides were used as summer houses by wealthy citizens of southern France. Similar style of property is found in the Charente – here it is called a “Charentaise” property,


A gîte is holiday home that can be rented.  They are popular with holiday makers that enjoy renting self-catering, fully equipped holiday accommodation.  The word gîte originally meant a shelter but has been adapted over the years for the holiday industry.
A Gite is commonly a renovated traditional country cottage, barn, or other types of farm buildings – typically found in the rural countryside but sometimes within a village.
A property with gites is also very popular with buyers looking for an alternative life-style in France. For example a family or couple will live in the main house and offer the gîtes for rental during the holiday season.  This not only provides an income but also they enjoy the social aspect.

Gite properties are available across all French regions.


Longeres are one of the most typical French property styles and are found in abundance in Normandy and slightly fewer in Brittany, most often in the rural countryside.  Longere, meaning rectangular shape in French, hence why they are built in such shape, using local materials., with one storey, although the attics of Longeres are ripe for conversion.
The term longere in English also meaning long house or sometimes farmhouse. These “long” homes are unique looking and appeal to buyers searching for something completely different.


Now on the opposite side of the spectrum to longere, the fermette is a small farmhouse. Such small farm homes are most common in remote rural locations. They offer quaint appeal and old style architecture.

Maison de Maitre

The Maison de maitre ‘master’s house’ is an elegant and well proportioned mansion of the18th and 19th-century.  Traditionally these houses were owned by a squire or other small landowner.   They can be found in all regions of France and interestingly can be urban or rural.  The style is very symmetrical, with the door always placed central to the building, making them both very pleasing to the eye externally and internally.  They make great family homes, due to the generous room sizes and the flow of the house as you walk around.  They also benefit from lots of sunlight, as they have tall sash windows and high ceilings.  As owners of a maison de maître earned a living from the rental of land, they are very much linked to the farming industry.


A Domaine is a group of buildings with one owner together with a large plot of land (normally with a specific use, e.g. wine-growing, hunting, golf etc.). One can find this type of dwelling in the region of Burgundy where the famous wineries are located.


colombage property in NormandyNow one type of dwelling that is very different from others in France is the colombage. This type of dwelling is defined as one being half-timbered with stucco between the timbers. This style is prevalent in Upper and Lower Normandy although there are examples across France and other parts of Europe too.


Discovering France and its Property

Something often said about France: It offers both old world design along with beauty and style. If you fall in love with an area, you will also discover a wide range of property styles and types . If there is one place that has style, art, and unique property types it’s France. Read our Guide about buying a home in France.

Renovation Properties for Sale

Brits love rural property in France and, unlike most French citizens, enjoy finding a property ripe for renovation. Of course, the property can be cheap but the costs involved in renovating the property to a good standard can be more than expected! The challenge is often the motivation factor – the results can be spectacular and add huge value. There are many renovation projects for sale at bargain prices as the French are not looking to invest in this market. Make sure all renovations have guarantees provided by registered artisans in France.

Our Top 10 Properties