French cities with the lowest property prices

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    If you always wanted to live in a beautiful Paris apartment with views of the Eiffel Tower… unless you're seriously wealthy, you may have missed the boat. Even quite small flats in the 7th arrondissement sell around the €1m mark.

    But France does still have bargains, if you know where to look. For the price of a London or New York flat (or a Paris apartment, come to that) you could get a farmhouse with a barn and land in Berry, or a delightful cottage in Brittany.

    Rural depopulation has hit some areas of France hard as people head for the big cities. If you're looking for a bargain rural property, the centre of France has some of the cheapest - the departments of Haute-Vienne (87), Creuse (23), and Corrèze (19) which together make up the Limousin. A large village centre house with a good sized parcel of land could sell for as little as €50,000, though you'd probably need to spend as much again (if not more) on refurbishment.

    In terms of price per square metre, you're looking at €650 in Creuze, €1,150 in Haute-Vienne, and €1,120 in Corrèze, according to figures from Notaires de France. (If you take the city of Limoge out of the equation, you'll see considerably lower prices in rural Haute-Vienne.)

    Limousin is famed for its cattle and its chestnuts; the landscape is varied and always interesting, with gentle hills and pastures, beautiful lakes and rivers, and the dramatic granite Plateau de Millevaches ('Thousand Cows'). While some of its towns are as pretty as those in the much better known Dordogne area, prices are much lower.

    Townhouses in places like Coussac-Bonneval (87) are available even more cheaply; one sold recently at €23,000. But some small towns are full of boarded-up shops and empty properties. Looking at the larger towns, closer to major cities, might be more sensible if you want ready access to shops and schools; Saint-Yrieix, 40km from Limoges, or Guéret, might be a better choice.

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    regions of france with low pricesWhich regions are also offering bargains?

    Slightly further to the north, the Berry region also benefits from low property prices. According to Notaires de France, the average price in the department of Indre is just €888 a square metre, and in Cher only just over €1,000. That compares with an average across France of €2,120 a square metre, so you really are getting a bargain.

    If you don't mind doing a lot of restoration work, you can find old houses around the La Chatre area for as little as €18,000 - but watch out for village properties that don't have drainage (Berry is a bit behind the times in this regard). Berry is a flatter landscape, with more arable farming and beautiful green pastures, and plenty of old farmhouses for sale.

    Brittany also has its cheaper areas. The southern coast in Morbihan is expensive, but look at the northern departements of Cotes d'Armor and Finistère and you can find bargains, particularly inland, for instance around Rostrenen where houses can sell around the €50,000 mark. There are plenty of charming villages full of character, and small hamlets with delightful granite cottages. Prices for the two departements come in around €1,300 to €1,400 a square metre, but isolated areas like the Monts d'Arrée in Finistère and Kreiz-Breizh in Cotes d'Armor have prices as low as €700 a square metre.

    While Grand Est isn't a region of France that's well known to foreign buyers, there are some fantastic bargains there. For instance, the rolling countryside of the Ardennes, on the Belgian border, or dramatic mountains of the Vosges, hide houses costing less than €1,000/m2 on average. Village houses sell for as little as €50-60,000 though many will need a little updating, and if you're lucky you may find a solid old farmhouse for sale.

    Find a property bargain in South of France

    french cities with lowest pricesCities with the lowest house prices

    However, if you like city living, you may have a trickier time finding a bargain. The major cities are generally quite highly priced; the average price per square metre for Paris apartments is now over €10,000, while Lyon, Toulouse, Nantes, and Bordeaux are all around the €4,000 mark.

    Still, a few cities remain where bargain hunters can find an apartment and a lifestyle to suit their budget. Saint-Etienne, for instance, only just breaks the €1,000/square metre barrier, and it's an attractive if slightly down-at-heel city that has a great cultural and sporting life to offer. Limoges, a bit dearer at €1,482/m2, offers an opera house, microbreweries, beautiful half-timbered architecture, university and teaching hospital - though Parisians like to look down their noses at it as a town with nothing to offer. Even right in the centre of Limoges you can buy a large two bed apartment for €70,000 or a smaller flat around €50,000, and if you look at up-and-coming areas like Carnot or Benedictins you might even make your money go further.

    Interestingly enough, while house buyers will find villas in the south of France expensive, apartments in several southern cities are quite reasonably priced. Nimes, for instance, just exceeds €2,000/m2, and as well as an impressive array of Roman-era buildings, it has a thriving tech sector and a major arts festival. Perpignan, close to the coast and the Spanish border, is even cheaper, and a big advantage for the household budget is you can do your monthly supermarket shop in Spain where many everyday items are much cheaper.

    For investors, the big advantage of these cities is that generally, lower purchase prices mean higher rental yields. Limoges and Saint-Etienne in particular have yields from 8-10%, depending on where exactly you buy - really unbeatable. (The downside is that property prices have tended to stagnate, while other cities have seen prices boom.)