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French tourist site’s traditional wooden caravans up for auction

The caravans, which sleep four and have kitchens and bathrooms, could be good for gîtes or guesthouses or people looking for a quirky ‘extra room’ in their garden. Prices start at €4,000

A traditional wooden caravan

Traditional wooden caravans have become more popular over the past few years and the ones on auction could interest people with gites or outdoor projects Pic: agorastore.fr

What would you do with a traditional-style wooden caravan? An auction to sell 12 such trailers begins in France today with prices starting at €4,000 depending on the item’s state of repair.

The traditional caravans, known as ‘roulottes’ in French, are being put to auction for the first time by the communes of Haute Comté, in Haute-Saône. 

The event is being held in collaboration with online public auction house Agorastore, which helped the department of Cher to hold an auction of 45 similar caravans in 2021, for a total of €721,000. The aim is to bring the auction “national visibility” to increase the chance of good sales.

Philippe Du Pasquier, Agorastore business developer in charge of the auction, said that the lots were rare and were “not the kind of thing that communities have in general”.

The auction will last for three weeks from today (May 3) until May 25.

The caravans were originally used as tourist accommodation in the Vergers de Fontenois.

The lots consist of 12 wooden, traditional-style caravans, which are designed to sleep four people and are equipped with a mini kitchen and bathroom, as well as a television and other modern conveniences depending on the model.

The prices range from €4,015 to €9,146 depending on the condition of the caravan, and each is being sold individually. 

It is expected that interested parties will include tourism professionals, campsite managers, or people who own gîtes or guesthouses and want to offer an additional service. 

There is also a growing trend for people who want to install a caravan at the bottom of their garden to have as a quirky spare bedroom for friends, but also people who want to develop a more unusual, outdoors project, such as people living in these caravans full-time and running a permaculture site, for example.

A third of the caravans are in a good condition, with one-third average, and another third in a bad state of repair, requiring significant work to keep them in a good state.

Angélique Jeannin, council head of development, told Le Figaro: “The caravans concerned have suffered some damage to the floor, and have become damp and fragile.”

However, she explained: “A similar [converted] caravan delivered new costs €45,000.”

The caravans are not legally approved for use on the road, so buyers will need to plan extra transport – such as a larger trailer or van – to take them home once the purchase has been agreed.

The proceeds from the auction sale will be reinvested back into the tourist site.

Ms Jeannin explained: “The aim is to breathe new life into this tourist site by developing yurts. Three caravans have been renovated and kept on-site. We want to relaunch the dynamic around eco-friendly tourism.”

The municipality is also looking for a new buyer for the tourist site. Ms Jeannin said: “Visitors have fallen in love with the site. The auction has enabled us to put the site in the spotlight and launch a call for projects to find a buyer there too.”

Note, however, that keeping a caravan in your garden with the intention of using it as part of your living accommodation, or in any circumstances if it will stay for more than three months, is subject to planning rules.

You will need to make a déclaration préalable de travaux (prior declaration) to the mairie if it is less than 20 square metres in size (tacit approval is obtained after one month with no objections, or two in certain protected areas), or apply for a permis de construire (planning permission) if it is larger than this. If consdering buying one it may be advisable to speak to the mairie first, to check in advance if there are likely to be any issues in terms of local planning rules.

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