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Farming in France & French Farm Property

A guide to farming in France and farms for sale in France

Farm in France - it is a respected part of French culture

France, being such a massive country with vast expanses of agricultural land, has always been known as something of a paradise for farmers. The French people are very proud of their national produce and the emphasis on locally produced meat, dairy products and vegetables all adds up to a nation for whom farms and farmers have a high standing. Farmers and the farming profession (including, of course, wine producers) are a respected and revered part of French culture, and a high degree of legal and financial protection for farmers is built in by the government.

Why buy a farm and farmhouse in France?

As with most properties, farms in France are cheaper and represent better value for money than in the UK, where good agricultural land can be ridiculously expensive due to scarcity. The diversity of the terrain throughout the length and breadth of the country means that many different types of farming are possible, ranging from dairy farming in the north to vineyards and olive farms in the south. This means that farmers from abroad can continue to work within their established skills and knowledge, or branch out into a new and exciting area of the profession. (Best Non Constructible Land for Sale in France.)

French farm property - grants and subsidies available

Grants and subsidies can be available to help you to purchase a farm in France (Property grants available in France), but you will need to meet the criteria to qualify. You (usually) need to be under the age of 35 (unless you have children, in which case there is an additional allowance of one year per child), and you have to provide proof of qualifications in farming or of several years experience or employment in agriculture. In the case of French farmers/residents, a national diploma in agriculture must be obtained. The young farmer must also spend at least six months working away from home on a farm in training, although this can be relaxed a little for those who have families.

Check with DDAF

The help available varies from year to year, and also from department to department, so always check out the situation with DDAF (equivalent to Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries). Grants reflect and can be dependant on, the type of land covered by the farm, the amount of animals kept and the amount of land owned as well as the region. Certain regions, for example, the Limousin (Limousin Property Guide), which needs to boost its population and is largely dependant on farming families to do so, remove the age restriction to allow older farmers to qualify for grants. Grants may also be available to allow for the purchase of essential equipment. It is also helpful to farmers to know that should land bordering their farm come up for sale, the agriculture body SAFER rules that they should have first chance to buy it.

Farming incentives and subsidies are fiercely protected in France

Farming subsidies are, of course, partly governed by the Common Agricultural Policy, as agreed by the European Parliament. France is currently the largest beneficiary of farming related subsidies from the EU, and is fiercely protective of them. The French government has a proven track record of offering grants and subsidies to farmers, and anyone involved in farming in France or considering a move to France in order to farm, would be well advised to keep a close eye on what's on offer. Things move and change quite rapidly, and you have to have your eye on the ball to catch the best of the offers.

Subsidies for pig farmers

For example, pig farmers in France were being invited to register requests for subsidies of up to 17,000 Euros to convert their pig accommodation from stalls to "loose housing", as long as they fulfilled the requirement of having a minimum 20 sows or 60 pigs, and applied before the 21st November 2012. The move was designed to bring French pig farmers in line with new European and National standards. So keep your eye open for similar offers.

Drought payment for farmers in France

In view of the fact that 2011 was a very dry year, a one off drought (sécheresse) payment was introduced for those registered as farmers who had been affected by this. This included those who had land associated businesses such as equestrian premises who would be equally affected. So it is encouraging that such schemes are in place to help farmers, in the event that this happens again. The money may not be paid to you in cash. As is so often the case in France, it is subtracted from your Taxe Foncière bill (Taxe Foncière and Taxe d'Habitation - property tax in France).

Contact your local authority to see if you meet the criteria

In short, it is difficult to lay down one law for all regarding subsidies and grants, as there are so many variations to take into account. However, such help absolutely exists, and the best way to get it is to contact your local authority to find out if you meet the criteria.

The cost of renting land

The price of land to rent is again subject to regional variations. However, to give you an idea, in Brittany it is currently around 120 Euros per hectare per month. However, the quality of the land is another factor. In hilly areas much of the overall acreage may not be useable except perhaps for sheep, and so will have a lower value than good arable or pasture land.

Farmers in France diversify

France is not immune to the current global crunch, and as a consequence farmers have become creative and looked to ways to capitalise on what they have and to diversity to earn extra cash. One popular method of doing this is to offer gite (Gites for sale) or B&B accommodation to visitors, and these businesses have enjoyed considerable success (Owning Gites and Chambres d'Hotes (B&Bs) in France). Many French farms have an abundance of extra buildings or outbuildings that can be converted into accommodation for guests.

Farmhouses in France - the choice is endless

If you do fancy becoming a farmer in France, the choice of farmhouses and farm property is enormous. All over the country there are farms for sale of all different sizes and types, with possibly the most available in the Limousin, a paradise for farmers with its plentiful rainfall, temperate climate and lush grasslands. Below is a small selection of farms that are currently on the market.

 
 

Farm with 2 renovated houses and 26 hectares
Limousin
Haute-Vienne

Farm with 2 renovated houses and 26 hectares

310,300 Euros

This farm consisting of 2 renovated houses, 3 barns and around 29 hectares of land is in a lovely secluded setting at the end of a lane but is situated close to the lively little town of Chaillac where there are a selection of small shops and services as well as a lovely swimming and fishing lake. The larger town of St Benoit du Sault with supermarket and more shops and services is around 5 minutes away by car.

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Farmhouse, 4 acres of land, outbuilding, unobstructed view.
Midi-Pyrénées
Tarn-et-Garonne

Farmhouse, 4 acres of land, outbuilding, unobstructed view.

176,000 Euros

15 minutes from Caussade, in the countryside, find this farmhouse on 4 hectares of land, not overlooked.. The house has been fully restored (foundations), 90 m² of living space, the living room is 41 m², three bedrooms, bathroom. Large outbuildings, a barn of 350 m², a shed of 145 m², dovecote. Clear view, tranquility assured, possibility of acquiring more land. Septic tank is conform, central heating.

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Superb fermette with 2 houses, pool, 18 hectares of land near Le Bugue in the Dordogne
Aquitaine
Dordogne

Superb fermette with 2 houses, pool, 18 hectares of land near Le Bugue in the Dordogne

577,000 Euros

Dordogne Périgord Noir: Superb stone fermette, including 2 houses, 2 bread ovens, a pigeonnier, a large stone barn, a detached agricultural building (400 m2), other small outbuildings and a heated swimming pool. Total living space 150m2 and 125m2, set in a very pretty countryside setting on 18 hectares of adjoining land with rolling views just 10 minutes outside the riverside town of Le Bugue in the Périgord Noir of the Dordogne.

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   Situated in the heart of the Creuse countryside
Limousin
Creuse

NOW SOLD

Situated in the heart of the Creuse countryside

268,700 Euros

Situated in the heart of the Creuse countryside with panoramic views in all directions is this very large fully renovated farmhouse with attached barns and approximately 7 hectares of land. The property actually comprises two adjoining houses with separate entrances and staircases, one is used as a gîte, and can also be used for accommodation for friends and family. The amount of land surrounding the property would also make it ideal for anyone wanting to keep horses.

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Old farm property in a beautiful setting with large barns and pastures
Poitou-Charentes
Deux-Sèvres

Old farm property in a beautiful setting with large barns and pastures

212,000 Euros

Outside the village of Allonne, situated in the beautiful Gâtine countryside, a small rural road leads to an old farm property in a quiet and private setting facing south. More land available up to almost 15 acres (6 hectares). The house is ready to move into now. Prix : 212 000 € HAI incluant 6,00% TTC d'honoraires à la charge de l'acquéreur. Prix honoraires exclus: 200 000 € . Frais de notaire en sus.

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Old farmhouse with 19ha, ideal for a bio farm
Aquitaine
Dordogne

Old farmhouse with 19ha, ideal for a bio farm

262,500 Euros

Farmhouse with 19ha Well this opportunity does not come round very often and it is one not too be missed! Here we have over 19 hectares of farmland which has not been cultivated for over 3 years.

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Old fortified farm on 31 Ha, family house, 2 cottages, bed and breakfast, swimming pool
Aquitaine
Dordogne

Old fortified farm on 31 Ha, family house, 2 cottages, bed and breakfast, swimming pool

1,260,000 Euros

Close to Bergerac, in the heart of 31 hectares, this old fortified farm whose origins date back to the 13th century has been completely renovated. It offers a very nice family home, 1 cottage for 4 people and 1 cottage for 8 to 10 people, 2 bed and breakfast with separate entrance. It is possible to create a beautiful cottage and an additional suite by developing existing spaces. Very nice pool 16 MX 5 salt.

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Beautiful farmhouse for renovation on 16 Ha of land
Languedoc-Roussillon
Aude

Beautiful farmhouse for renovation on 16 Ha of land

324,000 Euros

Located on the edge of a village with all amenities and about 25 minutes from Castelnaudary and Carcassonne. Very beautiful stone farmhouse for complete renovation on 16.5 Ha of land, dominant position, stunning views on the surrounding hills and the Pyrenees, quiet! Many possibilities and 500m² of livingspace possible. Building and roof in reasonable condition.

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Equestrian property with fine farmhouse,  small vineyard and 21 ha of
Midi-Pyrénées
Gers

Equestrian property with fine farmhouse, small vineyard and 21 ha of

750,000 Euros

A fine gascon farmhouse set in 21 ha of land, with large barns, 6 modern stables, a pony paddock and pond. The house provides generous living areas, 5 bedrooms plus a self contained appartement with a further bedroom.

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Nr Pompadour (19) - Large farmhouse, ideal as an equestrian property with over 13 ha of land
Limousin
Corrèze

Nr Pompadour (19) - Large farmhouse, ideal as an equestrian property with over 13 ha of land

318,000 Euros

If you are into equestrian matters and are looking for a great opportunity close to Pompadour, then I suggest you to discover this large farmhouse property offering approximately 215 m2 habitable, with a heated veranda overlooking its 2 stone barns, a hangar of 250 m2 and a small stone house to renovate as a project. The house offers 215 m2 of living space with attic and has been designed to make 2 independent houses immediately if desired.

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Renovated farmhouse with 60 Ha of wood and meadows
Languedoc-Roussillon
Aude

Renovated farmhouse with 60 Ha of wood and meadows

1,265,000 Euros

Located in a very quiet en natural position in the countryside between Limoux and Carcassonne, magnificent property with 60 hectares of meadows and woods. Very interesting for an equestrian activity and / or bed and breakfast. The completely renovated house comprisies 7 bedrooms with each its own bathroom, 2 large living rooms, fully equipped kitchen, covered terrace, garage and several outbuildings, all in excellent condition.

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Additional articles which may be of interest:


French properties with vineyards
Best Businesses for Sale in France
Buying a Business in France
Life in France

About the author

Joanna Simm moved to the Languedoc area of south-west France in October 2004 having found her property through French Property Links.

your questions...

1. Questions about qualifying as a farmer and subsidies (added 4/10/12)...

How many acres do you need to qualify as a farmer in France? We have seven horses and about twenty-one acres. Would we qualify for any subsidies or monetary help? Plus we are in our 50s.

Jo Rhodes, editor of French Properrty Links replies...

Thanks for contacting us. I am not aware of the amount of land you need to be considered a farmer in France, but the above article gives you advice on who to contact about grants and subsidies. Namely, the DDAF, which is the equivalent to the Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries. Although monetary help is meant usually for younger farmers, it does differ with region so it might well be worth contacting them. You could also try your Mairie as local laws may also apply.

2. A question about rules when keeping animals (added 7/5/14)...

Are there restrictions about keeping animals in barns close to neighbouring property?

Our reply...

Thanks for contacting us, though I'm afraid I don't know the answer to your question. I would suggest you contact the people at your Mairie who should be able to advise, or at least point you in the right direction. The DDAF, which is the equivalent to the Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries, may also be worth contacting.

3. A question about land for rent (added 27/4/18)...

On your website, you state that "The price of land to rent is again subject to regional variations. However, to give you an idea, in Brittany it is currently around 120 Euros per hectare per month." Could you please confirm whether this amount of rent is due monthly or yearly? Thank you for your answer.

Our reply...

Thanks for contacting us. This article was written quite a few years ago, but I would say that the cost quoted was per month. (From 2016 figures, land for sale in Brittany varied roughly between 4500-5000 Euros/hectare. Rental figures seemed to be about 4500 Euros/year, depending on the quality of land.) For further information you could look at the SAFER and associated websites (http://www.safer.fr/ and http://www.le-prix-des-terres.fr/).

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