The French curiosity shop

As the French government sells off property, some interesting propositions come onto the market

As part of the French government’s ongoing project to slash its deficit, it is holding an intriguing garage sale. Well, garage’ is probably not quite the word.

A trawl through the immobilier section of the website www.agorastore.fr reveals the extremes of property that the government has put on the market. There is, at one end of the spectrum, a block of four showers/toilet units (or bungalows’), that are being put up for auction on the site by the City of Lyon. You may not have to be flush to own them (they have so far drawn a bid of €540), but the description politely points out that a viewing is imperative. You have until 8 December if you want to pull on this particular property chain.

At the other extreme, are two ch�teaux. One of these is a 19th-century example in Puy-de-Dome. It has six bedrooms and is set in attractive wooded parkland of 8,020m2 with lakes and a river. There is also a swimming pool, pigeonnier and grenier, as well as tennis courts. At the time of writing, it has attracted a bid of €645,000, with the auction closing on 23 December.

In �le-de-France, meanwhile, another 19th century ch�teau is up for auction until 15 December, with the bidding currently at €650,000. With a whopping 57,000m2 of wooded parkland and 24 bedrooms, it is just 45 minutes from Paris, and has added historical intrigue, in that Napoleon stayed the night there (on 6 February 1814, to be precise).

Other French government buildings are being sold off on the website www2.budget.gouv.fr/cessions/province.htm. Here you can find a staggering range of properties, with highlights including a ch�teau in Abilly (Indre-et-Loire) that was once owned by the Budget Ministry, and a 19th century officers’ mess in Colmar, Haut-Rhin, previously owned by the Ministry of Defence. It is known as the Maison des Diables Rouges’ (House of the Red Devils).