Top 10 things to look out for when viewing a French property

In my many years of doing this job, I have viewed thousands of properties so I thought it might be helpful to draw up a 10-point list of the major factors I make sure to consider when I view a house for a client:

1. Location (of course)
Consider factors such as proximity to amenities, schools, and healthcare facilities and an international airport or train station if you are likely to be travelling abroad often or receiving overseas visitors. Can you walk or cycle in the immediate vicinity of the house and, for example to a school, to a village shop, a bakery, a café, a pharmacy? How far is a larger town with all facilities? Evaluate the feel of the area, safety, and accessibility to ensure it aligns with your lifestyle and preferences and the situation in terms of nice views and orientation, whether there is a farm (a geese farm is the worst in terms of noise and smells) or similar in close proximity and also whether it is on a flood plain.

2. Property Condition
Do not get hung up about chips on paintwork, scratches in floorboards, small cracks in plasterwork, peeling paint on windows and shutters and ancient woodworm holes in beams if it is an old property. These things are inevitable and part of the character of an old house but, more importantly they are things that can easily be sorted. More significant is to make sure there are not large cracks in outside walls (that you can get a fist in) which might show the house has moved, or a very wonky or wavy roof that might indicate underlying issues. Likewise big patches of damp or signs of complete neglect which probably indicate that the house has not been well maintained over many years. Signs of everyday wear and tear are fine, however.

3. Outdoor Space
If outdoor living is important to you, examine the property’s outdoor space carefully. Consider the size, layout, privacy, and potential for landscaping or outdoor activities or potential place for a pool. A garden, terrace, or balcony can significantly enhance your enjoyment of the property, especially in the lovely climate we have in this region.

4. Fixtures and fittings
What are the sellers planning to take with them and what are they leaving if anything? Is there something that would be difficult to replace or change the character of a room should they take it? If so, would they be prepared to sell it separately? For example, wood burners are considered as furniture and can be taken by the seller unless specified and agreed otherwise.

5. Internet connection
Does the property have fibre internet connection available? The majority of properties in France, even those deep in the countryside, are supposed to have this facility by the end of 2025.

6. Natural Light and Views
Natural light and scenic views can significantly enhance the enjoyment of a property and south-facing properties are particularly prized. Bear in mind when viewing that many old houses are filled with big, dark furniture and have dark wood beams and floors which can make them feel gloomy, so it is important to try to imagine the house without the furniture and rooms perhaps painted in lighter colours. It is very rare that I see a house here that is genuinely very dark inside as most old houses have big windows on all sides and are well orientated to make the most of the natural light.

7. Local environment
Take time to explore the area, hamlet, village or town and get a feel for its dynamics and atmosphere. Say bonjour to the neighbours and discover the places slightly further afield where you are likely to find most of the amenities you will need.

8. Budget and Financial Considerations
Ask how much the property taxes are and how much the insurance costs plus factor in any potential renovation expenses if you are planning to change kitchens, bathrooms or renovate a barn into guest accommodation for example.

9. Why are they selling?
Find out how long the current owners have lived there and why they are selling. If a property has changed hands frequently over a few years, it is worth trying to find out why.

10. Find out the DPE rating of the property (the energy rating)
But, equally, don’t get hung up on this as it can be very misleading for older properties. For example, many old, French, stone houses have very thick walls and hence excellent insulation, but this is not taken into account in terms of energy efficiency in the energy reports. Likewise, thick wooden shutters offer an effective form of secondary glazing, but this is also not taken into consideration. Neither is whether the house is fully south facing or on the north side of the hill which makes a huge difference to how much you have to heat a house in winter but also doesn’t feature in these reports. The reports have very broad criteria to assess the energy needs of everything from a modern, brick bungalow to a huge, old stone chateau and hence can be misleading but it is useful to see the suggested improvements on the reports, particularly for the potential installation of newer forms of eco-heating systems now available.


It might seem a bit hard-nosed to view a house with a list of bullet points in hand to consider, but it is very easy on a viewing to get side-tracked by the space on offer and distracted by the owner’s furniture or belongings while overlooking the things that will really matter to you long-term. Which is why, even after all these years, I still have my 10-point list with me on every viewing. Everyone will of course also have their own, very individual criteria and important factors to consider for the lifestyle they are looking for and, equally, a house needs to speak to you personally before it is even worth starting to consider all these points but hopefully it will help a little to have this list when out on viewings.

If you need any help or advice with your property search, please get in touch:



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