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€20,000 houses, rural French lifestyle: why buy in Haute-Marne?

Charles de Gaule bought a run-down farmhouse in this north-eastern department that remains intensely rural today

Chaumont viaduct carries trains through Haute-Marne Pic: Leonid Andronov / Robert Biedermann / Shutterstock

Departmental capital: Chaumont

Main cities/towns: Saint-Dizier, Langres

Haute-Marne’s most famous resident was Charles de Gaulle, who bought a run-down farmhouse in the village of Colombey-les-Deux-Eglises when he was a lieutenant colonel in 1934.

He had been looking further south, especially in the Dordogne where he had spent holidays as a youth, but settled on Haute-Marne for the lower property prices and its location, roughly halfway between Paris and the military barracks in the east of France. 

De Gaulle loved the house and wrote movingly about the garden and views. 

Political friends were less enamoured – it was a three-hour drive from the capital and, once business was done, there was little to do but head back.

Read more: Americans flock to buy in Paris, spending a median of €715,000

Intensely rural but with road and rail links

Today, Haute-Marne remains intensely rural with a declining population.

Residents sometimes complain of being cut off from the rest of France, even though two autoroutes – the A5 and A31 – run through it and the four-lane N4 clips the top corner. 

Paris is now a 2h45 minute drive. Local train lines link with TGV stations at Dijon to the south and Metz to the north.

Read more: Home sale in France annulled as visible faults not stressed at viewing

Property prices remain low

The reasons why De Gaulle settled here are still valid – property prices remain low, and for people who like peace and quiet and do not mind hard winters, it is ideal.

Country houses in reasonable condition abound: a fermette (small farm) on the edge of Montot-sur-Rognon, with a stone, two-bed house ready to move into (if you do not mind flowered wallpaper) and 1,248m² of land was on sale for €53,000.

Even smaller budgets are accommodated. 

One example is a two-bed, 75m² house with outbuildings and 790m² of land in Lanty-sur-Aube. It has not been lived in for a while but still boasts a good roof. It was on sale for €19,900.

For those interested in making the move, bienvenue-hautemarne.fr offers advice and a free concierge service.

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