The countryside in France is awash with affordable character homes but one type that’s especially popular with Brits – and especially good value – is the ‘longère’, a traditional farmhouse. Could one be right for you?

Five-bed longère in Kergrist, Brittany

Meander through the lanes of rural France and it won’t be long before you spot the long, low-slung roof of a picturesque house poking just above the hedgerows or treeline – chances are you’re looking at a ‘longère’.

The longère is a traditional farmhouse, built in a rectangular shape, typically between 20 and 30 metres long, and usually single storey. Especially common in the northern regions of Brittany and Normandy, most are built out of whatever material was most available locally, often stone or granite. Limousin is another predominantly farming region with its own version of longères.

The name is said to come from either the shape of the building or the shape of plot the house would have originally sat on – long and narrow, and often beside a road or track.

Two-bed longère in Limousin

Besides shape and height, other common features of longères include the rear elevation of the building always facing the prevailing wind and the original steps to the attic being outside of the property. In addition, any outbuildings are typically alongside – often attached – to the main house, which suits modern day use as a gîte. This layout means they rarely come with a farmyard or courtyard.

Often hundreds of years old and originally lived in by agricultural folk and artisans, longères were designed in sections to include enough space to house the owner’s livestock and agricultural produce. Having animals under the same roof would have helped to heat the property, especially during the colder winter months! The attic space would have been used to store straw or food, which would have acted as further insulation.

Three-bed longère in Ploërdut, Brittany

These days, most longères have been converted for today’s modern lifestyle, but retaining lots of authentic features. One of the most common alterations is converting the attic into a second floor, so adding lots of extra living space, usually bedrooms with dormer windows. Most still come with a good-sized plot of land, at least enough for a swimming pool.

Thanks to the large choice of longères on the market, they are an affordable way for Brits to own a detached character home in the countryside – which would otherwise be out of reach in the UK. Depending on location, condition and how much work might need doing, a budget of €150,000-€250,000 would buy a converted longère that’s ready to occupy and ticks most of the boxes.