<div style="display:inline;"> <img height="1" width="1" style="border-style:none;" alt="" src="//googleads.g.doubleclick.net/pagead/viewthroughconversion/1028731116/?value=0&amp;guid=ON&amp;script=0">
5 ISSUES FOR £5 Subscribe to France Magazines today click here

Where to buy a bargain rural retreat in France

PUBLISHED: 15:23 05 March 2018 | UPDATED: 12:15 06 March 2018

Village in Gorges du Tarn in Lozere © clodio / Thinkstockphotos

Village in Gorges du Tarn in Lozere © clodio / Thinkstockphotos


Looking for a peaceful rural retreat in the French countryside on a small budget? We found 8 French departments where you can buy a cheap rural house with as few neighbours as possible

If your dream is of splendid isolation – a rural retreat where you can really enjoy the great outdoors – then you’ll have a wide choice of affordable property.

Sparsely populated areas, where there are fewer work opportunities and less efficient communication networks, tend to be the cheapest places to live.

Here are some of the least populated departments in France with the lowest average property prices.



Lozère, Occitanie

Population density: 15/km²

Average property price: €85,000

In the north of Occitanie (previously in Langeudoc-Roussillon), this rural department contains part of the Cévennes national park as well as the spectacular Tarn gorges, Aubrac plateau and limestone Causses. Almost half the department is forested and there are many rivers and lakes; even the main towns of Mende and Florac are low-key. The nearest airports with UK flights are at Clermont-Ferrand, Montpellier and Nîmes. Popular activities include hiking, caving, kayaking, skiing and fishing. The average house price is less than half the price of neighbouring department Gard.


Aubusson in Creuse © Bobbrooky / Dreamstime Aubusson in Creuse © Bobbrooky / Dreamstime

Creuse, Nouvelle-Aquitaine

Population density: 22/km²

Average property price: €65,000

Now part of Nouvelle-Aquitaine (previously in Limousin) and within the Massif Central mountain range, Creuse is characterised by rolling green hills, dissected by rivers and dotted with small towns and villages. Cattle, including the distinctive red Limousin breed, outnumber people here, especially on the Millevaches plateau. Lac de Vassivière, one of France’s largest lakes, is popular for watersports, and you’ll also find the Loups de Chabrières animal park here, home to some of France’s last remaining wolves. The main towns are Guéret and Aubusson (famous for its tapestries and rugs), and there are airports at Limoges and Brive. House prices are among the lowest in France.


Don't miss

Where you can buy a property in France for under €100,000

5 things to consider before buying a rural retreat in France



Lavender fields in Alpes-de-Haute-Provence © michelecrameri / Thinkstockphotos Lavender fields in Alpes-de-Haute-Provence © michelecrameri / Thinkstockphotos

Alpes-de-Haute-Provence, Provence-Alpes-Côte d’Azur

Population density: 23/km²

Average property price: €179,500

In the south of France, in the French Alps but within striking distance of the Riviera, and on the border with Italy, this department is one of contrasts, with towering mountains as well as fragrant lavender fields. Ski resorts include Praloup and Sauze/Super Sauze, while the mountains are popular with walkers in the summer and the Verdon Gorges are a particular attraction for rock climbers and kayakers. Most people live in the south of the department where the main town Dignes-les-Bains is located. Other towns include Manosque, Sisteron, Barcelonnette, Castellane and Forcalquier, and nearest airports are at Nice, Marseille and Avignon. The average house price is €179,500 which is more that the average for France but considerably less than neighbouring Alpes-Maritimes (€415,000).


Puy Mary in Cantal © Comite Regional de Developpement Touristique d'Auvergne / David Frobert Puy Mary in Cantal © Comite Regional de Developpement Touristique d'Auvergne / David Frobert

Cantal, Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes

Population density: 26/km²

Average property price: €91,000

Located on the edge of the Massif Central, in the region of Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes, Cantal is named after the range of extinct volcanoes running through it. In the regional park of the Auvergne volcanoes, it has several impressive peaks including Puy Mary (1,787m) and Plomb du Cantal (1,855m) which are popular with hikers and paragliders. Cantal also has a number of ski resorts for winter sports enthusiasts. The capital is Aurillac, a pleasant old town with narrow streets and shady squares, and there are two Plus Beaux Villages, Salers and Tournemire. Cantal is famous for its cheese of the same name. The nearest airports are Clermont-Ferrand, Rodez and Brive which have seasonal flights to from the UK.


Don't miss

7 things to consider before buying in a French village

The best places to buy a bargain property in France



Langres in Haute-Marne © nevskyphoto / Thinkstockphotos Langres in Haute-Marne © nevskyphoto / Thinkstockphotos

Haute-Marne, Grand-Est

Population density: 29/km²

Average property price: €80,000

With some 1,800km of waterways, thick forests and rolling farmland, the rural department of Haute-Marne is a haven for nature lovers. Property prices here come in at €80,000 on average. The capital, Chaumont, was prominent in the world of glove-making in the 19th century and now hosts the International Poster and Graphics Festival, as well as religious festival Le Grand Pardon de Chaumont. Local specialities include the orange cheese from Langres, which is matured in champagne for a distinctive flavour.


Saint Lizier in Ariege © Dominique VIET / CRT Midi-Pyrenees Saint Lizier in Ariege © Dominique VIET / CRT Midi-Pyrenees

Ariège, Occitanie

Population density: 31/km²

Average property price: €100,000

Nestled in the Pyrénées mountains bordering Spain and Andorra in the south of France, Ariège is sparsely populated and largely unspoilt, with over 50% of the territory mountainous and 491,000 hectares of forest. Property prices here average €100,000. There is the Orlu valley nature reserve and the Pyrénées-Ariégeoises regional park to explore, plus a number of prehistoric caves, Cathar castles and pretty villages such as Mirepoix and Tourtouse. Its capital, Foix, is the least populated departmental capital in France, with just 9,000 inhabitants. There are several ski resorts in Ariège as well as a spa town, Ax-les-Thermes.


Don't miss

How to decide where to buy in France

The legal process of buying a French property



Loire River runs through Nievre © Alain Doire / Bourgogne Tourisme Loire River runs through Nievre © Alain Doire / Bourgogne Tourisme

Nièvre, Burgundy-Franche-Comté

Population density: 32/km²

Average property price: €76,400

Scattered with small villages and vineyards, Nièvre is a very rural department with only three towns of more than 100,000 inhabitants. Property prices here average just €76,400. The capital, Nevers, can trace its history back to Roman times and stands on the River Loire, with most of its buildings dating from between the 14th and 17th centuries. Nièvre is well known for its AOC white wine Pouilly-Fumé, which is made from Sauvignon Blanc grapes. A boat trip on the Canal du Nivernais is an excellent way to see life in the department from the slow lane.


Espalion in Aveyron © Patrick Pichard / Fotolia Espalion in Aveyron © Patrick Pichard / Fotolia

Aveyron, Occitanie

Population density: 32/km²

Average property price: €118,500

In the former region of Midi-Pyrénées (now part of the larger Occitanie region), rural Aveyron is full of bastide towns and quaint villages. The pilgrimage route of St-Jacques de Compostelle passes through the department and Conques, home of the Ste-Foy statue, is an important stopping point on the pilgrimage route. Other pretty villages to visit include Najac and Sauveterre-de-Rouergue, while the capital Rodez is a pretty city dominated by its Gothic cathedral. The world’s tallest bridge, the Millau Viaduct, can also be found in Aveyron. The nearest airports are Rodez and Toulouse.

Like this? You might enjoy:

Which areas of France are least popular with British buyers?

Where to buy in France for guaranteed sunshine

Common mistakes made by French property buyers that you should avoid


Welcome , please leave your message below.

Optional - JPG files only
Optional - MP3 files only
Optional - 3GP, AVI, MOV, MPG or WMV files

Please log in to leave a comment and share your views with other Complete France visitors.

We enable people to post comments with the aim of encouraging open debate.

Only people who register and sign up to our terms and conditions can post comments. These terms and conditions explain our house rules and legal guidelines.

Comments are not edited by Complete France staff prior to publication but may be automatically filtered.

If you have a complaint about a comment please contact us by clicking on the Report This Comment button next to the comment.

Not a member yet?

Register to create your own unique Complete France account for free.

Signing up is free, quick and easy and offers you the chance to add comments, personalise the site with local information picked just for you, and more.

Sign up now

More from French Property

Tue, 17:53

Are you curious about when your French house was built and who else has lived there? Find out how to discover the history of your French property

Read more
Tuesday, December 19, 2017

Renovation expert Matthew Chalk tells us about an ambitious project to restore a prominent village house in Brittany

Read more
Monday, September 4, 2017

Conditions for mortgage borrowers in France remain very favourable thanks to the election of President Macron, so is a mortgage a good option for British buyers?

Read more
Sunday, May 14, 2017

If you’re planning to buy a property in France, make sure you understand how French and UK mortgages differ

Read more
Thu, 15:16

At a loss over losing money when you need to send cash back home? It’s a common problem for expats who are getting stung by excessive fees and hidden charges from banks. With CurrencyFair, an online marketplace, secure transactions are made faster and far cheaper

Read more
Thursday, August 17, 2017

The Pound to Euro exchange rate has continued to slide, presenting headaches for Euro buyers with Pounds. What seemed unthinkable a few months ago has now become a reality. What will be the main drivers on the rate for the coming weeks and months and just how low could this go?

Read more
Currency exchange update
Monday, March 5, 2018

Once a price has been agreed, the buyer and seller of a French property sign a preliminary contract, the compromis de vente. Here is everything you need to know about this legally binding contract

Read more
Wednesday, February 14, 2018

If you want to give someone the power to act on your behalf in France, whether to sign your property purchase documents or if you lose mental capacity, you’ll need to apply for the French equivalent of power of attorney

Read more
Wednesday, January 3, 2018

New wealth tax laws came into effect on 1 January 2018 which could save you money on your tax bill. A tax expert explains the changes to the law and what they mean for you

Read more
French tax
Wednesday, December 13, 2017

If you’re planning to run a business in France then you’ll need to make sure you choose the correct tax regime when setting it up – here is a guide to the different regimes

Read more
Running a business
Subscribe today

Newsletter Sign Up

Sign up to the following newsletters:

Sign up to receive our regular email newsletter

France Forum

Questions about France? Visit our free France forum to get help and advice from thousands of other Francophiles and expats. Topics include: property, tax, law, travelling, pets, education, healthcare and much more.

Join the forum

Most Read

Join us on social media

France magazine
Living France magazine
French Property News magazine

Enter our competitions

Win books, DVDs, travel and even holidays in France in our great competitions! Take a look at our latest competitions…

Enter now