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
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