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Buying Property

Franche-Comte - Buying Property

QUICK LINKS: France Guide - France Discussion Forum - France Property Listings

The Franche-Comté region is a fairly small area which located in the east of France and borders Switzerland. It consists of four departments: Doubs, Jura, Territoire de Belfort and Haute-Saône. It is one of the most tranquil areas of the country and draws in many people who want to take advantage of the relaxed lifestyle that the area offers.

It is home to almost 1.2 million inhabitants who are located mainly in two of the departments and the towns of Besançon and Belfort. The area has a good climate, with hot dry summers and cold winters and much of the region is covered with forests, making it popular with those who enjoy an outdoors lifestyle. The town of Besançon has a language school which brings in students of all nationalities, so hearing people talk in other languages is very common.

The main economy is industry, although agriculture and tourism are growing in the area. Businesses in the area are growing as they increase the amount of goods that they are exporting to other countries. The growth of businesses is encouraging expats to come to the region, although some are attracted by the laid back French lifestyle.

In 2009 the average property price in the Franche-Comté region was €1683 per square metre, which is around half of the average national cost of property, although as with all regions, some departments are cheaper than others.

The Doubs department is home to Besançon and has nearly half a million inhabitants. There are a number of industries in the region which draw people in for employment. The tourist industry is relatively small in the region but is growing each year. In 2008 property prices did drop in the region but rises began again in 2009. The average property price in 2009 was €1956 per square metre and this is relatively low compared with the national average, although this is higher than other departments in the region. There are only a few apartments in the region, which offers more in the way of larger family homes. The average apartment price is €1670 per square metre, which is due mainly to the demand. The town of Besançon offers good opportunities for those who are interested in buy to let, as it has a large student population. Montbéliard is a lively area which is proving increasingly popular with expats and holiday makers.

French mortgages for expats The Haute-Saône department is relatively rural and is home to around 300,000 inhabitants. The department is around 50% forests. The average property price for an apartment in 2009 was €1308 per square metre, which is far below the national average. Prices are higher in the main towns, although there is not much difference. There are many bargains to be had if buying in the countryside as there are numerous properties available as renovation projects. House prices range between €1000 and €2100 per square metre. The town of Lure is a ‘green’ town which is attracting environmentalists and has good transport links. Vesoul offers residents a middle ground between the town and the countryside as it is still fairly rural but has many of the amenities of a larger town.

The Jura department has just over a quarter of a million inhabitants. Tourism and crafts are the main industries although the region is a relatively tranquil one. The average property price in 2009 was €1641 per square metre, which is far below the national average but on a par with the regional average. Studios and other apartments are in short supply and most homes available are large houses. The average price per square metre for an apartment was €1664, but this is due to the rarity of such properties and the demand. The town of Dole attracts visitors all year round and the opportunities are good for those who are interested in a buy to let property. Lons-le-Saunier is popular with those who wish to regularly visit Switzerland.

The Territoire de Belfort department has less than 150,000 inhabitants and offers a range of landscapes that will suit all preferences. The average property price in the area was €1749 per square metre in 2009 and it is one of the more expensive areas in the region. Small apartments are rare in the region with most properties consisting of five rooms or more. The average 2009 property price for an apartment was €1788 per square metre. The location means that it is fairly easy for someone in this area to live in France and work across the border in Switzerland and the border location makes it easy for business to be conducted with other countries, which has attracted many businesses to the area. Belfort is a busy town, with a good commercial sector so attracts those who are looking for work. Delle is a much more peaceful place to live and work and prices are still very competitive there.

Tuyé Farmhouses are a regular sight. These are either wooden buildings or half timbered and the main house was interconnected to a large barn or stable area. There are many of these properties which have already been renovated but there are some which are on the market for a very low price which need a lot of work.

Lava roof farmhouses are also popular. These have a steep roof which is made of lava – a type of stone. This type of roof requires careful maintenance but if it is looked after it can last many years.

Those with more money may be interested in a ‘domaine’. These are huge properties with a lot of land which date back centuries. They are often listed as ancient monuments and the land was often used for vineyards or other agricultural purpose.

A winegrower’s house is another option for those who are looking for a traditional French property. They are usually made from wood and have exposed beams. Access to upper floors was usually via an outside staircase, although those who have renovated their properties have added an indoor staircase. The houses are usually painted yellow or orange to give them a warm look.

Expat Health Insurance Partners

Bupa Global

At Bupa we have been helping individuals and families live longer, healthier, happier lives for over 60 years. We are trusted by expats in 190 different countries and have links with healthcare organisations throughout the world. So whether you're moving abroad for a change of career or a change of scene, with our international private health insurance you will always be in safe hands.


Cigna has worked in international health insurance for more than 30 years. Today, Cigna has over 71 million customer relationships around the world. Looking after them is an international workforce of 31,000 people, plus a network of over 1 million hospitals, physicians, clinics and health and wellness specialists worldwide, meaning you have easy access to treatment.