After all the excitement of finding your dream new home in France, complete with a lake to die for, the hard part now starts… and that’s the paper work in France. It’s a killer and there’s a lot of it!
The following is in no way the ultimate legal advice on French property buying and laws. Again it’s just our experience, but hopefully it will save you falling into some of the traps we encountered. Others may have had a different experience, but it’s what happened to us and it may help someone else save a lot of time which we lost.
I would firmly advise anyone to check the lake and its permissions even before you go as far as putting in offers. Just because it’s a lake does not mean you can fish it!
To put it simply you either have a ‘closed’ or ‘open’ lake.
I would advise anyone to go for a closed lake as it’s less hassle (I can hear the keyboards going already!)
The simple explanations I was given by the garde-pêche is that an ‘open’ lake usually has a river or stream flowing into them, so its potentially harder to control your fish. A ‘closed’ lake has no natural exits so fish cannot escape into local rivers or streams.
It seems from talking to others in France that the fishing permissions are becoming harder to get and a closed lake is certainly easier to get permission for. We have a closed lake and it wasn’t really a problem for us to obtain all the correct paperwork.
Some people may come on to the Blog and disagree and say you don’t need to contact the authorities, but we took the view of getting them on our side from the start. In France the garde-pêche are powerful people… we know people who have rubbed them up the wrong way and lived to regret it.
We wrote to them immediately after we moved in and all it took was a visit and a walk around the lake with them and two weeks later we had a full fishing license for days and nights (not all lakes can be fished at night).
However, you may get certain restrictions that may not be what you were hoping for. For us it was no pike, catfish and perch. This is because a Category 1 trout stream runs alongside our lake and they do not want predators escaping into it. For us it’s a small price to pay for a hassle free life as we have not seen them since and it’s been 3 years now.
Buying your Dream
Once you have negotiated (that’s no different to the UK) and agreed a price for the property, make sure you are certain exactly what you are paying. The distribution of fees is different in France and the buyer pays more. Check carefully & only then pay a deposit.
Now you have a ‘cooling-off’ period. Use it! Sit back and think is this really the correct thing for us.
Hopefully it is… then go ahead!
Now’s the time to find someone to help with the French legal part and the visits for the form signings etc. You may speak reasonable French & be capable yourself… but be warned, there’s a lot to look at and, as with most things in France, everyone speaks at once, so it gets confusing!
We were very lucky and the agent we brought the house through, Elizabeth, was an ex-pat who has lived in France for 30 years, so Elizabeth did all the translation for us and watched out for our interest and I’m pleased to say has since become a good friend to us.
When you go to the final signing be prepared as it takes ages and you end up with writer’s cramp and feel you have signed the same form about 6 times… but that’s France… the country runs on paperwork!
Don’t expect to move in within a couple of weeks as our paperwork took nearly 2 months to go through so it gives you plenty of time to pack and dream and to research on the Internet all the things you think you need to know.
Once you have moved in the fun really starts and I will cover that in the next part. For me it was the exciting bit with the lake getting sorted and swims built. But the biggest thing is getting your fish delivered. I’ll cover that too.
So until next time have a great spring and hopefully a lot of carp on your lines and who knows we may meet here! As usual if we can help in anyway please just contact us.
Lesley and John London, Bletiere