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French Real Estate Terminology

If you have ever picked up one of the free immoblier (realtor) ad booklets, you have probably been frustrated by the terminology. You see properties described as a T3 or a P4, instead of a 3BR/2BA. I will attempt to take some of the mystery out of their terminology here.

To start with, the "surface" of the house means how many square meters habitable it has. To do a quick mental "ballpark" conversion between square meters and square feet, add a zero. For example, a house with 280 square meters has about 2,800 square feet.

French houses are generally arranged differently than American houses. The size of the "sejour" (living or family room) is very important, but rarely will there be more than one "WC" ("toilet room") per floor.

The number of "pieces" (rooms) is often asked or spoken of. These "pieces" include living room, dining room (if there is a separate DR), and bedrooms. They do NOT include the bathroom, kitchen, garage, salle de bain (bath or shower rom), or WC. Therefore, a P4 means 4 rooms not including the kitchen or bathrooms.

To describe the type or feel for the house, there are some standards also.

A maison de village en pierre is a "townhouse" in stone in the old village (usually hundreds of years old).

A maison de caractere is an old house with character or cachet.

A villa contemporaire is a modern house.

A villa en lotissement is generally very close to the surrounding houses.

An appartement is an appartment, but it could be new or in a historic building or somewhere in between. They are frequently owned, and not just temporary rentals.

A maison a renover is a house that needs to be renovated.

A ruine is a house that REALLY needs to be renovated, and is probably missing something basic like a roof!

A chateau is a castle.

A maison de plain pied is on one level only.

A maison de ville is only in the city, with small or no yard.

The jardin (garden) refers to the yard. (A vegetable garden is called a potager.)

If "commodities" are mentioned, it means the schools, shops, post office, mairie (mayor's office - much more important that in the states). 


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