Sunday, 12 April 2009


Around much of rural France you see a large number of derelict or semi-derelict buildings as young people continue to move to larger towns and cities in search of work.  They are no longer interested in rural or small town occupations.  As a result the towns and villages have fewer amenities to offer, and the outward flow continues. 

In the picture above you can see a typical old property, left to go into ruin.  The situation may have  been worsened by the French inheritance laws which insist that no property can be sold without the agreement of all offspring of the owner.

Judging by the stacks of roof tiles outside, this house is going to be renovated.  Typically, this will be done by foreigners, or by Parisians looking for a holiday home.  Some small towns are almost completely closed up during the winter months, when no visitors are there.  Alternatively, houses for renovation are bought by British (mainly) people looking to make a new life in another country.  There are some places where there are few French people left.

It's quite a problem.  It must be preferable to have buildings maintained, but the influx of holiday home owners or non-French people does change the character of a place completely.  It's not a problem confined to France.  Parts of Wales and south west England have similar situations.

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  1. I love your picture, but what a sad story! I thought it was interesting about the heirs because where I live that's the way it always has to be unless there was a proper will that shows it was left to only one family member. It is generally not a problem here unless the family is not friendly with each other.

    We live in a poor area and have lost a lot of jobs here due to some weather destruction last year, one company moving to mexico and the rest of the industry being lost due to the poor economy. So we have trouble keeping people in our area sometimes, the young people at least.

    I am curious... how much does a property like that cost?

  2. What a pity! Old houses attract me. They hold the history and characteristics of its occupants. I'm curious as to what happened within the house.

    It's a common problem worldwide. I have relatives living in small towns in Malaysia and China and they face the same problem.

    There are only the elderly left in the small towns.

  3. Hi Wendy! In France, even with a will, it's not easy to cut children out from inheriting. It becomes especially problematic when there is a second marriage with children from a previous marriage.

    As for the cost of a property like that, I would say in this area it would be a maximum of 20,000 euros or $26,000 and possibly a lot less.

  4. @ECL, I agree, I much prefer old houses. And you're right, it's a worldwide problem. It can be seen all over the place that young people want to work in cities. There has been some slight movement back, people wanting a simpler life but not, so far, enough.

  5. Its a wonderful picture but of course sad to read that these building is left.

    We have some of the same problem in Norway, however some find it interesting to leave the urban life and get back to the rural - so there is hope :-)

  6. I do wish you wouldn't post this type of picture. I get a sudden desire to rush out and buy a lottery ticket and a map of such places!

  7. That's sooooo sad. I wish I could restore a lot of those old houses to what they SHOULD BE looking.... *sigh*

  8. This is the downside of the freedom of choice and mobility of people these days. I don't know what the answer is.

  9. Hi A --

    Must admit that until I read your entry, thought this problem was confined to Asia. (I think you've seen my photos of derelict homes encountered while out hiking in Hong Kong's New Territories.)

    It makes sense though -- and I have to say that there are many picturesque parts of Europe that I've driven past and wondered who could possibly be living there -- what with their being so far away from a city, etc.

    It's such a pity that in our wireless age, the reality is that too many organizations still aren't all that accepting of people working from home. Also, how ironic it is that even when some parts of the world lack housing, other parts lack people to live in buildings that still could be livable if maintained.

  10. I believe YTSL has hit the nail on the head - more people could work from home. I know in my own case, though, that unless you have a very good relationship with those who make the decision, it's looked upon with great suspicion. There does have to be some trust that you will get the work done.


Forethoughts, afterthoughts, any thoughts. Tell me.


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