1. Soaring property prices see upsurge in boat living
The number of people living on boats in some French towns has risen rapidly in recent years, driven largely by an increase in rents and property prices.
The trend has been especially noticeable in coastal departments such as Charente-Maritime, where around 40 boats of the 300 moored at Rochefort marina are inhabited permanently.
Its site manager, Ivan Poinot, told Sud Ouest: "We have almost twice as many residents as five years ago."
Compared to town centre property, which costs around €2,700/m², Rochefort liveaboard Jean-Michel Gatineau claimed “you can find an old tub for €5,000.”
He added: “Rents have gone up, and the most vulnerable people can't find accommodation in the centre, it's too expensive.”
Claude Hardy, who also lives on a boat at the marina, agreed.
“The smallest studio flat in the town centre rents for €600 a month with utilities,” he said.
“At the port, I pay €250 for my mooring, plus €30 for electricity every month. On my small pension of €860, it was a no-brainer.”
Although the figures may look attractive, Ivan Poinot explained that boat living is by no means an easy solution to the housing crisis.
Mooring fees are generally determined by the length of the boat, and these rates are also increasing. Between 2019 and 2023, for example, the annual mooring cost for an average-sized 10m boat in Rochefort marina has increased by €100.
As a result, there is pressure to squeeze onto as small a craft as possible to secure the cheapest rates, even if the cramped living area would not be legal in a rented flat.
"In recent years, I've seen people arriving who live on 6m sailboats, the equivalent of a 7m² boat, which is very precarious accommodation,” Mr Poinot said.
2. Fury over second homes advert along Basque coast
A mobile billboard promoting a second homes development in south-west France has been branded “a provocation” by a local political party.
The advert, which is pulled along by bicycle, bears the slogan "Are you tempted by the ocean as a second home?”
Aimed at tourists, it has appeared at several locations near the beaches of Anglet, where the development is located, in Pyrénées-Atlantiques and nearby Saint-Jean-de-Luz in August.
However, the Basque political party EH Bai is among several groups expressing outrage that such advertising is permitted in an area where many locals complain they have been priced out of the property market by an influx of second-home owners.
The party’s coordinator, Nikolas Blain, said: “In a context where, for the last three years, not two weeks go by without there being a mobilisation against speculation and second homes, we find this highly inappropriate. It's a provocation.”
Anglet’s mayor, Claude Olive, is equally frustrated and has vowed to take action, reports France Bleu.
“The property developers didn't ask me for permission, and if they had, I don't think I would have agreed.
“I'm in the process of checking with the municipal police whether they have the right to do it or not. If they don't have the right, we'll crack down. I'm even prepared to issue a decree banning this type of advertising in the city,”
The minimum price for a one-bedroom apartment of 43m² in the new development is €250,000 – more than €5,800/m². It is due to be completed next year.
Last summer activists in the Pays Basque attacked the second home of the French economy minister as part of protests against second homes in the region.
In 2021, estate agent offices were graffitied with the words ‘The Basque Country is not for sale'.
3. Airbnb owners take out ‘bed bug insurance’ as infestations rise
Hot weather and a boom in seasonal lettings have seen a rise in bed bug infestations this summer – but help is available for property owners looking to deal with the problem.
Specialist insurance can cover the costs of eradicating the pests, which amounts to almost €1,000 on average, including €476 for professional help.
Very few conventional home insurance policies cover bed bugs (called les punaises de lit in French) and Badbugs,fr, created in 2019 in conjunction with the IMA group (Inter Mutuelles Assistance) has been quick to capitalise on the gap in the market.
Its co-founder Nicolas Roux de Bézieux told Le Figaro that this year has been especially busy: “Since May, we have recorded an increase of around 28% in reports, compared with 2022 over the same period.”
Tourist accommodation and shared flats, where there are frequent changes of occupants, are particularly vulnerable to infestations, especially in warm weather.
Mr Roux de Bézieux, himself an Airbnb property owner, has had to deal with bed bugs on more than one occasion.
“The first time, I had to cancel the booking and reimburse the tenant. For five to six months, I wasn't able to rent out my property because Airbnb won't release the booking until you can prove that the bed bugs have been eradicated.”
Insurance starts from €2 a month and usually reimburses up to €500 of the eradication bill, as well as temporary accommodation for the tenant.
4. Chance to buy a whole hamlet – including disused factory and lake
The estate agents describe the listing as “atypical and incredible” – a hamlet in north-east France that used to be a hub for metalworking has come on the market.
Priced at just under €2.3million, Le Beuchot comprises a former wire-drawing plant (which closed in 2006), the owner’s house, a street of workers’ cottages, two other residences, a lake covering nearly 26 hectares, and 25 hectares of adjoining farmland.
It is located near the commune of Hautevelle in Haute-Saône.
The estate agent, Horae-Transactions, specialises in the sale of rural properties and insists this is a “chance to buy a piece of local history.”
Some 220 people worked on the site at the height of its activity.
All the houses date from the 19th century and relate to the hamlet’s industrial past although, like the workshops, most are now abandoned and overgrown.
According to the agent, any potential project aimed at developing the site will be considered. Ideas have included tourism initiatives, an eco village, and residences for the elderly.
5. Students warned after spate of accommodation scams
With rentrée just around the corner, people looking for student accommodation in France have been warned to be on their guard against potential fraudsters.
It follows a number of scams in recent weeks, involving everything from identity theft to payment fraud, that specifically target students scrambling to find accommodation before the new academic year starts.
One student from Montpellier told Midi Libre: “The ad matched everything I was looking for. The rent was just €400 for a large flat. Looking back, I realise it was too perfect.”
On finally viewing the property, he discovered: "There were holes in the walls and ceiling, dust everywhere, stained wallpaper and even mould.”
The newspaper reports that another student was tricked into providing identity and bank details for a flat in Perpignan, before even visiting it.
Once he had received the documents, the alleged owner never showed up.
“I realised what had happened to me when I saw €300 had been withdrawn from my account,” the victim said. “I deduced that someone had used my ID to take out a loan or something like that.”
In another instance a young woman was told that to reserve her accommodation, which she had found on second-hand goods website Leboncoin, she had to make a Western Union payment to a friend of the owner.
After an internet search she came across an advert for a suspiciously similar-looking house located in another part of France.
Earlier this month, Le Figaro Étudiant published a list of five things to be wary of when looking for student accommodation, including adverts that sound too good to be true (they usually are), unusual payment proposals, photos appearing on other property listings, and demands for money before the lease is signed.