For members


Are these the most desirable places in France to have a second home?

For most French people, the ideal second home is by the sea. But which of the country's stunning coastal locations make the top of the list?

Are these the most desirable places in France to have a second home?
Photo: AFP
The French have revealed the places they consider most desirable to own a second home and the top ten are all by the sea. 
Surveying around 1,200 web users, real estate website Explorimmo discovered where in France the French dream most of owning a second home. 
Top of the list was the Bassin d’Arcachon (see below) on the south west coast of France and just an hour from Bordeaux, with 21 percent of the people surveyed naming this as the place they most want to own a second home. 
And you can see why when you look at the pics.
(Graeme Churchard/Flickr)
(Bassin d'Arcachon. Photo: Twin Loc/Flickr)
Le bassin d’Arcachon. Photo:  JPC24M/Flickr 
After Arcachon,the most popular place for a second home in France was the chic Normandy coastal resort of Deauville.
The fact it is roughly two hours from Paris by car and slightly less by train has meant Deauville has been hugely popular with the capital's posher residents for decades.
Just check out the number of designer stores in town.
Photo: Thegoodlifefrance/Wikicommons
Deauville beach. Photo: Pinpin/WikiCommons
Unsurprisingly a Mediterranean location featured high on the list with the fishing port of Cassis making it to third place. 
Cassis. Photo: Amanda Snyder/Flickr
In fourth place was Sainte Maxime (16,5%) which lies on the French Riviera in between Toulon and Cannes.
(Saint-Maxime. Photo: Office de Tourisme Saint-Maxime/Facebook)
In fifth was the popular holiday island of Ile de Ré (16%) just off La Rochelle on the west coast of France.
Photo: Ile-de-Re. Giancarlo Foto4U/FLickr
Sixth was Biarritz (15%) – on the south west Basque Coast, which is home to some of the best beaches in the country.
Photo: Florian PépellinWikiCommons
Seventh was Quiberon (13%) a fairly wild peninsula on the southern coast of Brittany, which is also home to some stunning beaches.
(Photo: Peter Stenzel)
Then in eighth was Saint-Jean de Luz (12,5%), not far from Biarritz on the south west Basque Coast.
Photo: Aslak Raanes/Flickr
The ninth most popular place was Ramatuelle (12%), near Saint-Tropez on the French Riviera.
Ramatuelle. Photo: PasabanaWikiCommons
And finally Porto-Vecchio (11%) in southern Corsica was the tenth most desirable place in France to have a holiday home.
Over the past 12 months, the market for second homes has started to bounce back since a dip that started when the financial crisis hit in 2008. 
The survey also revealed some other factors the French are taking into consideration when it comes to their second homes. 
Apparently most French people believe the ideal second residence would be an apartment rather than a house, and with one out of three of them aiming to buy a second home in the next three years for a maximum budget of €250,000, perhaps this makes sense. 
And of course, people want their second home to be easily accessible from their first. Of the people surveyed 41 percent of them said their ideal second residence would be less than three hours away from their main home by car.
The survey also showed that 38 percent of people would want to start renting it out quickly to make it profitable. 
In 2016, the French there were 3.3 million second homes in France, accounting for 9.4 percent of the country's total housing stock. 
French national statistics office Insee describing a second home as “housing used for weekends, hobbies and holidays”, including furnished homes rented out to tourists. 

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For members


Garant: How the French guarantor system works for property rental

If you're looking to rent an apartment in a larger city in France, you're likely to see announcements that require a 'garant'. Here is what you need to know about finding a guarantor in France.

Garant: How the French guarantor system works for property rental

Renting in large cities in France – particularly in Paris – is a known challenge for foreigners, especially new arrivals. In the countryside, it’s a bit easier, with less competition properties, but in the big cities compiling your dossier and landing the right place can be a challenge.

One of the biggest surprises for many people is that most landlords ask for a guarantor (garant) in order to sign a lease for an apartment. It is not a legal requirement, but in competitive real estate markets, it certainly feels like one.

Though asking for a garant might feel a bit juvenile, it is quite common, and applies to a lot more people than you might realise. Here is what you need to know:

Who typically needs a guarantor?

The most common group to need guarantors are students. However, if you are a foreigner who is not employed with a CDI (indefinite contract) and if you do not make over three times your monthly rent, you will likely need a guarantor as well.

If you don’t collect your income in France (or if you don’t have an income) you will need a guarantor.

You will also likely need one if you are still in the probationary period of your CDI, or if you cannot show three months worth of pay stubs from your job yet (even if you pay meets the three times a month requirement). If you do have a CDI, you could ask your employer to sign you an attestation d’employeur which verifies your monthly income. 

If your income is not steady or consistent (perhaps you are a freelancer). Typically, if you use an agency during the leasing process, they will require a guarantor, especially if any of these conditions apply to you. 

It is worth noting that showing bank statements typically do not suffice – landlords are looking for proof of ongoing income, not savings.

Who can count as a guarantor?

The guarantor should be a third party, such as a parent or close relative who agrees to pay your rent if you fail to pay.

This person must fulfil all the requirements outlined above (ie earning more than three times your rent with an indefinite contract).

The other tricky part is that this person must work and live in France, and usually it’s best that they are French themselves.

However, this can pose a problem for foreigners who might not know anyone that fits that description, so thankfully there are some other options fill this requirement, like taking out a caution bancaire or using an online agency. We explained the ins-and-outs of these bellow.

What does my guarantor need to show?

The guarantor needs to put together a dossier of documents including;

  • Proof of identification (a passport or French ID card)
  • Proof of residence that is less than three months old (eg utility bills).
  • Most recent tax returns
  • Employment contract and typically three months worth of payslips
  • If they earn money via real estate, they must also provide documentation for this
  • If the person in question is retired, they must provide proof of pension (again, this must exceed your monthly rent threefold). 

So, what if I don’t have a French person who can be my guarantor? There are a few options for you:

Use an online service

There are two main online services that can act as guarantors for foreigners in France.

The first is Visale, which is accessible primarily to foreign students.

This is a programme offered via the French state through “Action Logement” and it covers up to three years of unpaid rent. You must be between 18 and 30 years old to apply, and you must hold a long-stay visa (VLS-TS) – either a student visa or a ‘talent’ one.

For students who are already citizens of a European Union country, then simply presenting a student card and a valid passport will be sufficient. It can be applied to private housing and student residences, but it is ultimately up to the landlord as to whether they will accept a tenant who uses Visale as their guarantor. The main benefit to Visale is that it is free for the user.

Visale does come with some restrictions, however. Your rent (including charges) cannot exceed €1,500 in Paris, and €1,300 in the rest of the country. In addition, the lease must be for a primary residence, and your rent should not exceed 50 percent of your total income.

Another option is GarantMe, a paid online website that can also serve as an official guarantor.

Landlords might actually prefer this service over a physical guarantor who might refuse to pay or for whatever reason not have the funds to do so. The benefit to GarantMe is that they accept a wider range of tenants for their service, but the downside is that there is a fee. The minimum payment (per year) is €150, but the fee is normally 3.5 percent of the annual rent (including charges) and it renews automatically.

The nice thing about GarantMe, is that in order to apply for the service, you basically need to create a full dossier that will be identical to what you’ll need for your apartment search anyways.

Take out a Caution Bancaire

Basically, a caution bancaire is a bank guarantee, and typically its a bit more of a last resort option because it is quite restrictive for the tenant. It involves blocking off a large sum of money to be used to pay rent if you fail to do so.

Depending on the landlord (and the bank), they might ask you to block between six months worth of rent to sometimes up to two years. This would be used as guarantee during the duration of your lease, but it takes a bit of administrative coordination and obviously requires a large sum of liquid funds.

Sometimes activating a bank guarantee can take a few weeks, and for foreigners, of course, this would require already having a French bank account. There can also be fees, depending on the bank, for using a caution bancaire, and simply closing of caution bancaire account in itself can involve fees.

The other downside to this is that not all landlords will accept it, which is why this option might be best served as a last resort.

Attempt to find an apartment that does not require a garant

This is quite difficult in Paris (and other large cities around France). It is possible sometimes if you stick to foreigner-oriented sites like NY Habitat or Paris Attitude. Another possible loophole could be to see if your insurance plan offers coverage of unpaid rent. This is quite uncommon, but could be a possible option. If you rent specifically particulier-à-particulier (meaning you do not use an agency at all) you might be able to negotiate with the landlord, or if you have a sub-lease you might not need to show proof of a guarantor.

Ultimately, however, in most cases when renting in France’s large cities, you’ll likely need a guarantor.

What should I be aware of when it comes to guarantor websites?

As mentioned previously, Visale is only for people in the 18-30 age group, so unfortunately it does not apply to everyone. It is also intended for lower income people or students, so if you are a high earner you might be rejected.

Regarding using a website like GarantMe, beware that they will charge you every year – it is not a one time fee. This will be deducted from the card you put on the site and the only way to cancel the charge will be to show proof that you have moved out (i.e. an état des lieux or letter releasing you from the obligation signed from your landlord)