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How to read French property ads

Property ads in France are quite different from the UK, so it’s important to understand what they mean. As many of you will be travelling to visit properties, having a good understanding of what you’re visiting beforehand means you won’t come across any nasty surprises or waste your time.

Here at ON IT Translations, I’ve compiled a list of terms and expressions used in French property ads and their definitions.

Property type and size

Let’s start with the types of property on offer. Most of you are probably looking for an apartment (appartement) or a house (maison).

Other options include a duplex (an apartment over 2 floors) and a souplex (an apartment over two floors, the ground floor and basement). For a more detailed list of other types of French property, take a look at this article by Complete France.

Now onto size. In French property ads, you will see T1/F1, T4, etc, but what does this mean exactly?

Firstly, T(type) and F(function) are the same thing so you can ignore that. With regard to the number, it represents the amount of separate rooms, excluding the kitchen and bathroom/toilet.*

So for example, a T4 is a home with 4 main rooms (e.g. 1 living room and 3 bedrooms) + a separate or open-plan kitchen + separate bathroom.

Another important difference to note is between a studio and a T1. A studio is one room which is both your bedroom and kitchen/living room + a separate bathroom.

On the other hand, a T1 is one room with a separate kitchen and separate bathroom.

*Fun fact: it’s very common in France for the toilet and the bathroom to be separate. No more shouting at the kids to hurry up in the morning!

Other important terminology in French property ads

There is some other terminology in property ads which is important to know.

Bathroom: salle d’eau vs salle de bains

Simply put, a salle d’eau is a bathroom with a shower and a salle de bains is a bathroom with a bath. (This is really important to check when house hunting, especially if you have kids).

Kitchen: cuisine équipée vs cuisine aménagée

Cuisine équipée: This usually refers to a kitchen which has cupboards and at least some electrical appliances, like a fridge and a hob.

Cuisine aménagée: This generally refers to a kitchen without any electrical appliances, but with cupboards. It’s great to know before you see a property, as buying a fridge, oven, etc. can very quickly become a huge expense.

Expressions: read between the lines!

Now that we’ve dealt with terminology, we’re going to look at some expressions which are commonly used in property ads. These can be important nuggets of information, so I’ve included their literal meaning and what they actually mean (i.e. read between the lines).

Expression: ‘Bien à fort potentiel’

Literal meaning: a property with a lot of potential.

What it actually means: the property needs a lot of work, and not just a paint job. If you’re looking for a turnkey home, this is not it.

Expression: ‘Appartement de charme’

Literal meaning: apartment with charm

What it actually means: very small. This might not always be the case, especially in Paris where this expression refers to apartments with lots of attractive features. However, outside of the capital, this expression is generally used as a nice way of saying an apartment is small. Take a look at the surface area, if it’s a three-bedroom apartment and 40m2, then it’s small.

Expression: ‘Coup de cœur’

Literal meaning: love at first sight, fall in love

What it actually means: This is a great deal! Generally used for properties which have many attributes and are being sold at a good price. Although beware, some people just write this to entice buyers.

I hope this helps you on your journey towards finding a (second) home in France.

Remember to send me an email at clara@onittranslations.com for all your property translation and interpretation needs.

Have you come across any other interesting expressions recently? Share them in the comments below!

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