Blazing with colour, Provence radiates sensuous beauty and variety. Its scenery moves from the craggy inlets and sandy beaches of the coast to the valleys carpeted with lavender and the fields filled with sunflowers and olive trees that Van Gogh loved to paint.
Provence is renowned for its gorgeous climate and light, delicious foods of sun-ripened fruit, vegetables and herbs and of course its wines, which are amongst the best in France.
Although Marseilles was founded as a Greek colony in 600 BC, it was the Romans who left the most lasting influence in the form of Nimes, Arles, the magnificent theatre at Orange and the Pont du Gard which are amongst the finest examples of Roman architecture in Europe. In the middle ages the ruins inspired Provence's pure Romanesque architecture.
The countryside around Avignon is truly breathtaking. The chief city of the Vaucluse region is Avignon itself, dominated by three miles of fortified walls and housing a culturally rich city with its own opera house, university, and of course, the Palais des Papes. The streets and squares are often full of buskers, and the Avignon festival in July, which includes theatre, mime and cabaret, has now become a major European event.
The hilltop villages of Provence are very quaint with tiny cobbled streets, often too small to admit cars. With such a relaxed way of life, hours go by in the warm sun, gazing over vineyards, olive groves, lavender fields and beyond to a glimpse of the sea.
Besides basking in the sun or exploring the local villages, tennis courts and riding stables are never far away and every village has a shady court for Pétanque, a lazier version of Boules. Lovely walks can be taken amongst the hills and mountains - hike the Grand Canyon du Verdon or ride the famous white horses in the Camargue. Boat excursions are also available along the Rhône.
France's oldest city, Marseille, is a bustling port with a lively local atmosphere. Avignon, once the Papal residence is now a cheerful town of cafés, art galleries and fashionable shops.
Guide to the French Buying Process
1. Signing the Agreement (Compris)
On finding a property you wish to purchase you will need to negotiate the terms, price and conditions of the sale with the owner. The next step, once you are in agreement, is to sign the preliminary contract (Compromis de Vente). This is a legal document and after ten days will be binding on both parties. Rules change frequently in France and it is best to consult with your notary about when this period starts. Generally the compris will be signed in France with the Agent. Variants can be included in the compris, for example an Acte (clause) can be added if the name or names to go on the title deed have not been finalised. If a mortgage will be required to purchase the property, the details for this, including the name of the mortgage company, must be on the compris.
2. Paying the Deposit
Generally the deposit will be 10% of the agreed purchase price. This will normally be paid to the notaire. There are exceptions to this, if the agent holds a carte professionelle, is bonded and fully registered then you may pay them, but do not hand over the deposit to anyone else. If for some reason the purchase does not go through, for example, if you write to the notaire and the agent that you do not wish to go continue with the purchase before the contract is binding (within seven days of signing the compris), then your deposit would be repaid. This would also apply if a condition had not been met, or the mayor or S.A.F.E.R. (a government agency that has the right of first purchase on most rural property that comes onto the market in France) could oblige the purchaser to give way. If you decide after the seven days 'cooling off' period that you do not wish to complete the purchase and pull out of the sale you would lose your deposit. If however the vendor pulls out of the sale then you will receive your deposit back plus the same amount from the vendor.
3. On Completion
Generally it will take around two or three months to complete the purchase. During this time the balance of the purchase money must be paid into the account of the notaire, this must be done well ahead of the completion date. The notaire will prepare the documents, check that the deed of sale (Acte de Vente) is in order and have the legal title ready to be signed over. It is possible to have someone sign on your behalf if you give them power of attorney. An interpreter may be of use at this point if your French is not very good and many Notaires will suggest (or insist) that an interpreter is with you.
IMPORTANT - Disclaimer :
All information provided is believed to be current and provided free of charge. No liability can be accepted for the reliability of the information and statements made as this is obtained from 3rd parties. We always recommend you take legal advice from a fully qualified Lawyer or Notary before buying a property overseas.
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