French locals beg for change to rules punishing British second home owners after Brexit

French bakery and Emmanuel Macron

French visa rules mean Britons can only stay for a maximum of 90 days out of 180

Dan Falvey

By Dan Falvey

Published: 26/11/2023

- 15:53

Updated: 26/11/2023

- 15:58

France's local economy has suffered from the loss of Britons

French villages are desperate for their government to relax rules form British second home owners amid concerns that restrictions imposed after Brexit are harming their business.

Visa rules dictate that Britons with a home in France can only stay for a maximum of 90 days out of 180.

The rules, which came into place following Brexit, are thought to have had a significant impact on local French economies.

In the Dordogne village of Verteillac, the owner of the local convenience store said he was "sad" to see less Britons in the region.

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"We have suffered a significant drop in British customers and it’s a shame," said Bruno Merlaud.

"The numbers are down, that’s crystal clear."

He added: "It makes me sad. They are a clientele I appreciate enormously."

There has been a large drop in the number of second home-owners in France as a result of the rule changes, with Britons selling their properties.



Emmanual Macron is facing pressure to change the rules for British second home owners


Figures released by the English Housing Survey in July indicated that there are now 60,000 people in England who own second homes in France, compared with 89,000 in 2008.

Speaking to The Telegraph, Merlaud continued: "There are more Belgians but they buy less.

"The Dutch bring everything with them. They are tough in business.

"I like the British state of mind. Several customers came to see me to bid farewell. My biggest fear is that they’ll all leave."

Earlier this month France’s second parliament chamber voted through an amendment to the country’s new Immigration Law which would ease the 90-day rule for Britons.

If passed into legislation, the amendment would give British second home owners the automatic right to a long-stay visa.

The exception was tabled by Martine Berthet, who represents the Savoie area in the Alps, after seeing the impact that the current rules were having on Britons in the region.

She said: “The Britons I have spoken to say that the current system is long-winded, difficult and full of pitfalls.

"Ties are warming between France and the UK following the royal visit – and don’t forget, King Charles reserved his only official speech for the French Senate.

"The British are privileged partners of France. History has shown this to be the case."

Merlaud agrees that Britain should be exempt from the 90-day policy and cited "the unique links that unite our two countries and the importance of this community for the French economy".

He said: "They should be able to come and go as they please. It’s a shame to limit them."

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