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My wife and I want to buy land and build. We have been looking at land for about a year while renting in Annecy and are beginning to wonder if we should change our minds.

We are looking in Alpes Maritime, Gers, and around Annecy.

We both like modern architecture, and are finding that there is almost nothing which isnt built in a traditional stucco or chalet style which we are tired of. Its great to be in a chalet for a holiday but we want to live permanently in a nice new modern home.

Is this even possible in south France?

Will the Maries in the areas above even consider it? Has anyone here built a custom, modern house in south France?

Why on earth do the French only seem to build those tiny one story off-white stucco houses with tile roofs? Is this to simply preserve the character of the area or do they just not care about style and modernity?


This is going to make it or break it for us as neither of us want to live in one of the traditional style houses which are not anywhere as nice in our opinion as what is built all over elsewhere in Europe.

Should we even attempt to build modern in south France or would we have to move north towards Paris in order to find a more accepting area?

Thanks for any help and experience.
 

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My wife and I want to buy land and build. We have been looking at land for about a year while renting in Annecy and are beginning to wonder if we should change our minds.

We are looking in Alpes Maritime, Gers, and around Annecy.

We both like modern architecture, and are finding that there is almost nothing which isnt built in a traditional stucco or chalet style which we are tired of. Its great to be in a chalet for a holiday but we want to live permanently in a nice new modern home.

Is this even possible in south France?

Will the Maries in the areas above even consider it? Has anyone here built a custom, modern house in south France?

Why on earth do the French only seem to build those tiny one story off-white stucco houses with tile roofs? Is this to simply preserve the character of the area or do they just not care about style and modernity?


This is going to make it or break it for us as neither of us want to live in one of the traditional style houses which are not anywhere as nice in our opinion as what is built all over elsewhere in Europe.

Should we even attempt to build modern in south France or would we have to move north towards Paris in order to find a more accepting area?

Thanks for any help and experience.
You need to check with the various Mairies to determine which areas are subject to housing style preservation requirements. Modernity is certainly allowed, but not in every locality. To do the build you may well need to start the process with an architect (local architects should also know where you can build modern and reputable builders of modern).
 

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If anything, moving north may just aggravate your problem. Yes, French building codes are rather "traditional" - our neighbors got some sort of painted on treatment for their roof, and the mairie had to approve what color the roof tiles were going to be painted. Neighbor across the street re-roofed his house with the "wrong" style of tiles and caught all sorts of grief. Now, one side of the roof is re-tiled with the "wrong" tiles and the other side is the old tiles.

First of all, you need to check what the building codes are in whatever town you are looking at. Your best shot is probably a somewhat secluded lot, especially if the house wouldn't be visible from the street. In the middle of a lottissement, no way. There seems to be a big concern over "fitting in" to the neighborhood.

Then, you may simply have to work with the mairie and let them help you work with the departement if they are willing to back your plans. (The prefecture has been known to scotch "unusual" building plans, even when the local mairie is backing the project.)
Cheers,
Bev
 

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My wife and I want to buy land and build. We have been looking at land for about a year while renting in Annecy and are beginning to wonder if we should change our minds.

We are looking in Alpes Maritime, Gers, and around Annecy.

We both like modern architecture, and are finding that there is almost nothing which isnt built in a traditional stucco or chalet style which we are tired of. Its great to be in a chalet for a holiday but we want to live permanently in a nice new modern home.

Is this even possible in south France?

Will the Maries in the areas above even consider it? Has anyone here built a custom, modern house in south France?

Why on earth do the French only seem to build those tiny one story off-white stucco houses with tile roofs? Is this to simply preserve the character of the area or do they just not care about style and modernity?


This is going to make it or break it for us as neither of us want to live in one of the traditional style houses which are not anywhere as nice in our opinion as what is built all over elsewhere in Europe.

Should we even attempt to build modern in south France or would we have to move north towards Paris in order to find a more accepting area?

Thanks for any help and experience.

Neuro,

My husband and I could probably attest to your frustrations. We own a modern home in California and are big fans of architecture of the super modern style. We dream sometimes of owning a home here in France as we flip through pictures on the Houzz website! They DO exist but are scattered about. In fact, I have seen some AMAZING modern homes here.

This is a great site to get an idea for what is on sale modern wise here in France.
Ateliers, Lofts & Associ?s - Agence immobili?re acheter vendre appartement loft duplex atelier achat vente : Paris, Bordeaux, Biarritz, Arcachon, Ailleurs

I think in general, people do not have modern taste. Some people just prefer the traditional housing and since it's France, the tradition stays strong here. Ever notice how Australia as some amazing modern homes? I'm guessing because they don't have much history or tradition. Not slamming on Australia and in fact, I love the people and would love to live there if I could.

Going north isn't going to be much better because you will have the traditional stuff up there too.. just different traditional buildings.

Obviously, having house built from scratch would be your best bet and we have thought about it ourselves but I also know that would be a giant nightmare.

To get an idea of what is here in France, go to this site
Photos et idées déco de maisons france

You can also find architects that are modern builders here in France on the site along with seeing their work.

Hope this helps. Hang in there, you are just have asthetic shock!
 

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Just a small quibble in defense of the French: having lived in various condo/coop apartments and developments throughout the US, in areas both urban and suburban, I've been literally limited in the color of curtains I could hang at the window, which flowers I could grow in my window boxes, the size/style/color of my mailbox, etc. And one of my neighbors was threatened with eviction for painting his front door a subtle shade of cream instead of the official off-white.

So, please, let's not imply that this desire for conformity and avoidance of different architectural styles is somehow confined to France. It happens any time people anywhere get it into their heads that what already exists is the way things should continue to be.

What was that song from the 60s: "little houses made of ticky-tack, and they all look just the same."

Good luck with finding/building what you want.
 

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Just a small quibble in defense of the French: having lived in various condo/coop apartments and developments throughout the US, in areas both urban and suburban, I've been literally limited in the color of curtains I could hang at the window, which flowers I could grow in my window boxes, the size/style/color of my mailbox, etc. And one of my neighbors was threatened with eviction for painting his front door a subtle shade of cream instead of the official off-white.

So, please, let's not imply that this desire for conformity and avoidance of different architectural styles is somehow confined to France. It happens any time people anywhere get it into their heads that what already exists is the way things should continue to be.

What was that song from the 60s: "little houses made of ticky-tack, and they all look just the same."

Good luck with finding/building what you want.
Generally speaking, when houses here all look the same, that's because (unless very old) they have been part of an alotissement and sold off the plan. There are in fact plenty of modern houses in France, however they are often tucked away on larger properties or behind major screen planting or high walls, in quieter quartiers away from major thoroughfares, etc so that you don't see them. I have French family here who built a modern house up in the hills behind Marseille - you can't see it at all from the street. Wander through the good quartiers of Aix and if you manage to peak over the high walls you will see some modern homes, and they're not in fact all of a muchness. Here in Pau it's interesting because we have areas where there are building regulations in some parts that new buildings should conform to some sort of traditional Bearnais style (on the outside only and it mainly relates to roof style and a range of building colours and height restrictions), although those same areas mostly have lots of large old homes built by Americans and Brits in all sorts of styles, including art-deco and what the owners apparently thought was French chateau style, and those same homes are mostly protected. Go out of town a little though and you will find modern/ultra-modern homes. In the Vosges, too, whilst there are lots of chalet-style homes, there are also some modern architect-design homes. And you will find that the majority of recently constructed modern homes here include some of the latest green characteristics and innovative technology.

The idea that France is somehow stuck in the past in terms of building style is actually a furphy. What France seeks to do is to preserve aspects of its history and traditions - not surprisingly given it has over the centuries lost so much through invasion and civil uprisings. And, importantly, France isn't waiting a couple of centuries before to consider that some building styles should be protected.

BTW, take a look at some of the vertical and rooftop gardens on apartment and other buildings in Paris, public and office buildings recently or in the process of being built that are ultra-modern.

End of rant :D
 
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