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Stability for investors in rural France

15th June 2009 | back to article listings BACK    print this article PRINT

When it comes to investing in France, the sheer variety is a factor that helps keep the country popular with Britons. It is a country that can simultaneously satisfy urban dwellers in Paris, country lovers in Provence, sun and sea seekers on the Cote D'Azur, wintersports fans in the Alps and commuters to London in northern areas close to Eurostar stations.

At the same time, property of many different types all over the world has been hit - to a greater or lesser extent - by the credit crunch and even though France's own banking system may have escaped relatively unscathed, the property market has not, partly because of the reduction in the number of Britons looking to buy because of UK financial woes and the weak pound.

Of course, those investing may recently have been feeling better about the last of these factors as sterling has recovered from near parity at the turn of the year to rise above 1.17. This will have helped reduce prices alongside longer-term drops in the actual cost in euros of French homes.

At the same time, France has not historically been a country of boom or bust in house prices, with relatively modest rises and falls, meaning that it may best suit those whose long-term ambitions centre on stable and gradual accumulation of value.

If stability is what people are after, they will find it in the Burgundy region, according to stone home conversion firm Arena Park France. It states that the Cote d'Or wine growing region has defied trends seen elsewhere, remaining rural and famous for its wines rather than urbanising and thus meaning that investment in completed properties to buy (as opposed to restored ones) are fairly few and far between. This being the case, properties in the area were described as being the preserve of the "discerning investor".

The firm stated: "Like its wine the Cote d'Or's housing market is about quality rather than quantity and as such is offering some serious French resistance to the economic downturn."

Of course, for many the stability of a purchase overseas does not just concern property values, but also lifestyle, particularly if it is a home they will spend time in themselves. Commenting on life in rural France in the Daily Telegraph, resident Michael Wright stated recently: "Despite the continuing influx from abroad, life remains blessedly simple in this old-fashioned, underpopulated corner of the universe." He noted that a particular feature of life in such parts is the way people from various trades and professions contribute their own time to local voluntary causes, something which has rubbed off on British expats who have moved in.

So while France may still offer some prospects that are a byword for stability, its lifestyle also brings a sense of tradition that those buying in the country may do well to acknowledge.

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