French Property Types Explained

Written by on February 18, 2015 in Buying a Home


An explanation of the names estate agents use to describe the different types of properties there are in France, it’s not as simple as house or flat, but this helpful list sheds light on the matter… 

French Property Types

Bastide: This is an old French word and general refers to medieval towns. Bastide-style properties are usually old but you can find new bastides. They are usually detached, square shaped buildings made of stone with tiled roofs that are often almost flat. You can find them in towns and in the countryside and Provence in particular has bastide style houses.

chateau in france

Chateau: A castle or a palace. They are not all huge properties with lots of land, some can be quite petite. We all want a chateau but beware the renovation and upkeep costs.

Domaine: A house with a lot of land, an “estate”; for instance vineyard properties are called domains.

Fermette/Ferme: A ferme is a farm,  a rural farmhouse, usually with outbuildings.  A fermette is a small ferme or farmhouse in the countryside. Often they come with land but it varies wildly from a bit of land to a bit more or a whole lot more.

Hotel Particulier: Not a hotel, but a grand town house. In olden days they would have been the homes of the aristocratic members of society or the very wealthy.

Longère: A long rural property of a rectangular shape. They can range from a barn with one side fully open to the elements to a one story house with a converted attic.

Mas: Particularly common in Provence, a mas is a rural property.


Maison à colombages: a half-timbered house. The attractive wooden framework is visible and often surrounded by torchis, a sort of wattle and daub, though it may be brick or plaster.

Maison Bourgeois also known as a Maison de Maitre: usually one of the smartest houses in the village and literally translated as “the master’s house”. They generally have high ceilings and high windows with four large rooms on each floor.

Pavillon: Detached house, often used to describe a bungalow.

Pied a terre: A flat or an apartment.

Villa d’architecte: A modern house built to a contemporary plan, designed by an architect.

French Estate Agents Terms for fun
5 Top tips for buying property in France 
5 Key tips for searching cheap properties in France

Tags: ,

Related Articles

Virtual viewings help buyers find French property

Would you buy a property in France after a couple of virtual visits? Before the global pandemic, virtual viewings would be a rare necessity for Home Hunts’ property-buying clients. However, this year Covid-19 has shut down travel and prevented standard visits. But virtual viewing has come into its own – and to the rescue. “In […]

Continue Reading

How to live the Good Life in France | Buying a French property

You’ve found your dream home in France (see part 1 of how to live the good life in France: the search)! You’re over the moon and raring to go. But first – you have to buy that property. There are several stages to go through and this being France it involves copious amounts of paperwork. […]

Continue Reading

How to live the good life in France | Choosing where to live

If you dream of living the good life in France – you’re certainly not alone, it’s a popular dream! Expats in France are numerous and from all around the world. Drawn by the diversity of the landscapes, the food, sunshine, wine – there’s lots to tempt. Those who love snow and mountains head to the […]

Continue Reading

What you need to know about buying a Monument Historique in France

France is renowned the world over for its outstanding collection of historic buildings. Châteaux in particular are strategically scattered the length and breadth of the country. And, many are for sale as private homes and hotels. What does Monument Historique mean? Simple barns, Cistercian abbeys, ancient fortresses and fairy tale châteaux all have one thing […]

Continue Reading

Key to buying property in France | Home Hunts free market insights report

Inside France is Home Hunts’ annual, full-colour report, providing analysis, insights and recommendations on how to find the best real estate investment opportunities in France. Free to download, it is packed with useful information and advice to help you secure your dream home in France – stress free and at the right price. How much […]

Continue Reading


If you enjoyed this article, subscribe now to receive more just like it.

Subscribe via RSS Feed

Comments are closed.