French Connections

Find Holiday accommodation in France

  • 2012 is off to a great start!

    January has been a successful month at French Connections, with site visits, new visitors and enquiries for holiday rentals and properties for sale all up on the same period last year. In an uncertain economic climate, we reckon this deserves a shared pat on the back with our staff, advertisers and holidaymakers.

  • A good time to buy a holiday and letting home in France

    It’s peak time for summer holidays in France. Have you ever dreamed of buying a French property for your own holidays that would help pay for itself through holiday lets?

    For many people this combination of lifestyle enhancement with financial investment seems ideal – and if you are thinking about taking the plunge, then the good news is that this can be a really good time to buy.

    Savings are attracting a pretty poor return at present and properties in France are relatively good value, so there’s the chance to grab a bargain and get more for your money than in Britain. Also, sterling is stronger against the euro, so exchange rates are good – and there’s the possibility of rate fixing if you plan to purchase property.

    If you buy judiciously, market professionally, set realistic prices and offer attractive facilities then it is definitely possible to attract rental bookings sufficient to offset running costs and make a small profit.

    Renovation is pricey these days so it’s better value to buy a finished property which may even have a letting history. Choose a location that’s accessible by air or road and not too far from restaurants and shops. Look for a property with ‘kerb appeal’ that’s in a peaceful spot with a good view and get a feel for the local community. In France, a small rural town might actually offer more of what you’d expect from ‘village life’.

    When setting your budget, don’t forget to allow for buying expenses, furnishing and equipping the property and marketing online to advertise the holiday home and draw in business. Check out our comprehensive Buying Guide.

    We have hundreds of properties listed in the ‘Property for Sale’ section of our website, from a house ready to move into at just £35,000 to some stunning chateaux and wine domaines for a little over £1 million – and plenty in between. Our photo shows one example near the beautiful village of Najac. Often owners are selling direct, which saves on agency fees. You can search by area, size and price to help narrow things down!

  • A Romantic's take on finding a French home

    Friends and family frequently ask “why France?”  It wasn’t my idea! A besotted better half hankered after a more ‘rural’ life with lots of space, sunshine, delicious food and ingredients and, of course, great wines. Well it didn’t sound all that bad and, after three years spent travelling the South West looking for our ideal home and commercial venture, I was smitten and pressing him for decisions.

  • Chalking Up Lessons in Decoration

    This month I have been mainly painting.

    I can assure you that this phase of a renovation project is not to be underestimated.  Of course, I’ve painted many a room given my profession, so did not feel daunted by assuring my builder that we’d take care of the decoration.

    This was my first mistake.

  • Extra tax on holiday property owners in France is scrapped

    The French government has announced that it will not proceed with its proposal to impose an extra tax on owners of property in France who are not resident in the country.

  • French Chic for Less

    Restored french chairI’ve moved on from phase one of our renovation now and am taking a little ‘building’ sabbatical pending phase 2.

    Of course, that means engaging in the more enjoyable pastime of ‘dressing’, or finishing, our home.

    It’s only the very lucky who get a clean sweep at this, buying everything new for their second, third or, in our case, umpteenth home. Actually most people have to make do with existing furniture and we’re no exception.

    Our last two houses were new-builds so a far cry from the stone house we have now. Luckily my taste has always been a tad eclectic so I’m comfortable with mixing new and old to get the result I’m after.

    In fact, the French are traditionally expert at this sort of styling. They pass furniture down through generations, rarely throw things away and nonchalantly re-purpose, re-cycle and up-cycle.

    So, taking a leaf from their book (incentivized by a severe lack of funds) I set about a little of the same. I’m sharing a few of my projects in the hope of inspiring more of the same.

    Re-cycling - my best bargain

    Renovated BathroomI’ve been amazed at the prices in the brocantes these days, no longer the bargain hunters dream as canny owners have realised the demand for French antique finds. However, a bargain is still to be had and my pretty little shelf was forlornly shoved at the back of the shop, broken, dusty and ready for the dechetterie. Monsieur was a little incredulous to find some interest in it and gladly offloaded it for 10 euros when I bought a rather cute wall lamp. Some wood glue, a good clean and a lick of Annie Sloan and it was ready for the bathroom wall.

    Re-cycling a well-loved item

    An old favourite, a little decorative mirror, has been with me for many years. It started off gold, was transformed in white, had a spell in shocking pink, back to white and now black to go with that cute shelf. I’m rather proud of this given it was £20 in a sale nearly 20 years ago. I think I’ve had my money’s worth don’t you?

    Re-purposing – a bit of a luxury but what the hell

    Spotted on a friends website, a gorgeous chinoiserie umbrella stand was a must have. The colours and design were spot on for my ensuite but, as strange as I am, even I know there is no need for an umbrella stand in the bathroom – after all it would make a shower seem a little unnecessary. But it does make a stunning bin.

    Upcycling – two items in to one

    One pretty chair with the wrong coloured material and one rug which I love but can’t leave on the floor as the dogs think I’ve given them the very best bed. Bingo, a shaggy chair that gives a wonderful texture against the stone and adds a bit of rock-chic alongside a feather lampshade.

    French wine box turned bread binRe-purposing – am I repeating myself, it may be the wine!

    20 minutes down the road from Buzet, we bought 6 bottles when we first got here and were given them in this box. The wine didn’t last long but the box did. What do you think of my new bread-bin?

     

    New purchase (ok sometimes we have to succumb!)

    Rustic picture frameOf course, there are times when you simply can’t find what you are looking for but, don’t forget, there is a world of re-cycled products out there so hunt around for something original and unique. This frame from www.sujiivana.co.uk is made from recycled wood collected by the homeless of Capetown so scores well for providing income to those less fortunate, cleaning the streets of Capetown and re-cycling a waste product.

    The secret to this method of furnishing your home…do as the French do. Buy only items you love for their shape, texture or design and remember that colours, material and even its purpose can be changed. That way they’ll be with you for a very long time!

    Well, I hope I’ve inspired you to give Ikea a miss when attempting to furnish your home cheaply – there is so much more satisfaction in saving stuff destined for the dechetterie and getting yourself a unique item to boot.

    Happy re-cycling!

  • French Connections advises on holiday homes in French Property News magazine

    Our Glynis Shaw gives expert advice on buying and letting a holiday home as part of a feature called ‘Happy Holidays!’ published in the August issue of the top-selling magazine.

  • If every French house tells a story, do you have a tale to tell?

    Main House

    We talk all the time with owners of properties in France. Often it seems to us that almost every owner has a story to tell about how they came to move to France or to fall in love with their holiday home.

    This is certainly true of two of our owners whose stories and houses are so interesting and photogenic that they have become the subject of major ‘real life’ features in the October and November issues of French Property News magazine.

    The first story is set in Brittany, where Eileen and Brian Welch came across Le Faouet, which had started life as a 19th century  typically Breton farming hamlet, located close to a village in the Côtes-d'Armor region. “Although we had to virtually machete our way in, it was love at first sight. The former working farms were set in four and a half acres of beautiful land and the buildings were really derelict, but we felt ready to take on the job of restoring them.”

    As it turned out, it was a further five years before Eileen and Brian were in a position to make the move - and to their surprise Le Faouet was still for sale. They moved into a caravan at the dilapidated property in March 1995 and set to work.

    By July, the Welches managed to let out their first gite, then went on to renovate all the buildings and to create their own house and eight separate gites, which they let successfully for many years.

    “Much as we love it here, we are both past retirement age now, so we have decided to put the property on the market and would love for somebody new to take over the reins and put their stamp on it.” Le Faouet is now on the market through French Connections.

    Le Moulin d'Arnac

    Down in Corrèze, close to Beaulieu-sur-Dordogne, the story of owner Chris Jubb is very much a tale of real life, with all its twists and turns of fate. About 14 years ago, she and her husband Ken found Moulin d’Arnac in an estate agent’s files.

    This riverside period water mill in an area of outstanding natural beauty had literally just gone on the market and the owner couldn’t be contacted, so Chris and Ken jumped in the car to see if they could find the property. After driving around without success, they spotted a man coming out of the Mairie and stopped to ask if he knew of the mill house. “Actually, Moulin d’Arnac is my house”, he smiled. “Follow me”. The rest, as they say, is history.

    Three years after the Jubbs moved in, they were feeling settled and very happy in their new home and were running two gites – but Ken, who had a heart condition, died quite suddenly. “Everybody expected me to go back to England”, remembers Chris. “But this is my home and I was determined to stay. Almost immediately, my neighbours and people in  the village came forward with help and support.”

    But now she feels it’s time to retire and move into a smaller house, so Chris has placed her beloved water mill on the market – although she doesn’t plan to go far, so devoted is she to the area. Moulin d’Arnac is now on the market through French Connections.

    You can read the full stories of these two owners in French Property News magazine and see these and more features in our Press pages.

    Do you have a story to tell for our France Stories blog? Whether you have a property for holiday lets or for sale, we would love to hear from you. Send up to 500 words, a photograph and your French Connections ID number to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

     

  • Our houses for sale in a major French Property News magazine feature

    A feature called ‘The Spirit of Place’ in the January issue highlights five inspiring properties that are currently for sale through French Connections, in five varying regions. Over three pages, the article considers the history and place of each house in the local community, along with the area’s landscape and lifestyle.

  • Owners: 20% summer discount for new rental listings

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    Own a holiday rental in France? You still have time to grab our great summer 20% discount offer and start getting your property noticed online.
    The offer is open to new advertisers listing on the French Connections site and applies to both our Classic and Professional packages. Both are fixed cost advertising with no commission charges, so you keep all your earnings.

    Adverts are easy to compile, as we put you in control of your pages. And optional upgrades mean you can display extra photographs, host video tours, run special offers and feature in promotions.

    We specialise in France so you’ll also have the back-up of our great customer service and personal support, including native French speakers, and our active programme of promoting our owners in the Press. We get regular coverage for our advertisers in French Property News, Living France and The Good Life France.

    So, if you’re thinking of letting your French property for the first time or looking to get more bookings, start at the link below now.
    http://www.frenchconnections.co.uk/advertise