French Farms for Sale - France
There has been an exodus from French farmland in recent years with many French farmers deserting their farms in favour of towns such as Lyon and Bordeaux. So, there are more French farms for sale than there were in the past, and French farmland is the cheapest in western Europe. However, buying a farm in France is not without its problems (why else would the French farmers be leaving?).
It is hard to get a loan from a French bank in order to purchase farmland and so it is a common practice to buy the farm buildings and rent the surrounding land. Having said that, there are numerous grants, subsidies and financial incentives to buy French farms, especially if you are under 35 years of age and have the relevant farming qualifications. More information about such incentives is available from the appropriate regional office of the Centre National pour l'Aménagement des Structures des Exploitations Agricoles (CNASEA): contact the head office at 7 rue Ernest Renan, BP 1, 92136 Issy les Moulineaux Cedex (01.46.48.40.00, www.cnasea.fr).
The drawbacks of French farms for foreign buyers include the low success rate, mainly due to under-capitalisation, and the hostility of the locals towards strangers, particularly in the most remote areas. Some foreign owners of French farms have even reported having their crops sabotaged!
Buying a vineyard in France could be an easier option if you are determined to work the land, and a few bargains have been spotted in the recent past. Although you won't be able to get your hands on a premier cru Bordeaux or a top Burgundy for less than a small fortune, an appellation red wine from the Dordogne, for example, would cost around €15,000 per hectare (where about €300,000 - €500,000 is considered a sensible investment).
Red wine is generally more expensive than white. You will need to hire experienced staff and be prepared to battle against the elements for a successful crop, but a number of foreigners have been financially successful. Note that the sale of a vineyard probably won't include the wine stock - you buy the vines and land, but what has already been bottled is usually sold separately.
General information about farm and vineyard sales in France is available from the Fédération nationale des Sociétés d'Aménagement Foncier et d'Établissement rural (FNSAFER) at 91 rue du Faubourg Saint-Antoine, 75008 Paris (http://www.safer.fr/).