BARGAINS can often be had if you buy a car at a state auction – une vente domaniale.
The sales are organised around France by the Direction Nationale d’Interventions Domaniales, in charge of managing government land.
They sell off items public bodies no longer need, ones acquired by confiscation or because the owner died without heirs, unclaimed lost property and abandoned vehicles.
Cars are one of the main kinds of biens mobiliers (moveable property) under the hammer and older second hand ones regularly go for under €1,000.
Others can include electrical and other household goods and even objets d’art. Separate sales take place for biens immobiliers (real estate).
For future auctions see www.ventes-
Under mobilier you can search France or by area and by category of goods. Pick moyens de transport and then voiture de tourisme (any ordinary mass-produced car), voiturette (for low-powered vehicles, like certain electric cars) or 4x4. You can arrange a viewing before the sale and are considered to be aware of its condition when you buy.
The price you pay will have VAT added as well as 11% sale expenses and registration fees. Payment is on the spot (or can be put off for eight days if you pay an instalment) and you must collect the car within an agreed time limit (for an impounded one daily holding fees mount up from the day after the sale).
Only cars whose description includes “CT” (contrôle technique - the French MOT test) are guaranteed roadworthy.