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How you can own a piece of the French countryside
Normally, property in France doesn’t come cheap. But thanks to judicial reforms, there are a number of small-town courthouses priced to sell. A decline in religious conviction means that there are also priories, abbeys and churches on the market. Both church and state are having difficulty bringing in the customers, so if you have always dreamed of living in the French countryside this could be one way to do it.
Last year, 401 courthouses in small towns were closed around France as part of a cost cutting program. Now you can acquire properties like the beautiful former courthouse in Bar-sur-Seine, in eastern France for €200,000. The decommissioned courthouses were offered by the State first to their respective local counsels. Most were purchased and converted into cultural centers, galleries or other public spaces, but many have been put on the public market and priced low so that the State can sell them quickly and get out from under costly upkeep. Even so, many have languished on the market without a buyer due to the costs associated with renovating and converting the buildings into private homes.
More religious buildings are also finding their way on to the market due to waning attendance at churches. The selling of convents, monasteries and churches has become more acceptable and is no longer considered a sacrilege, though the costs of repurposing these buildings can also be prohibitively high.