“I live in a house but my home is in a stable.” If this sums up your attitude to life then buying a house in France could well help you turn your dreams into reality. Joanna Leggett of Leggett Immobillier tells all.
The equestrian history of France
Did you know that the importance of France’s equestrian tradition was finally acknowledged in 2011, when it was added to the UNESCO Intangible Cultural Heritage List? Quite an honour, and acceptance that there is nowhere quite like France to keep, breed and ride horses.
France is, perhaps, the world’s greatest equestrian nation. With high levels of participation, a great tradition and a renowned breeding sector. Plus some of competitive sport’s best hippodromes and racing heritage. If you are looking for a decent house but great stabling then you have come to the right place!
It is another little-known fact that horses played a key role in the development of the country’s agricultural background and military prowess. As in many other countries, the military helped to establish high standards of riding. And the link remains today through Cadre Noir, the French military riding academy which is based in Saumur. This military troop was founded in 1828, and gets its name from the black uniforms its members wear.
Horses in France
Over the years, France has developed more than 20 different horse breeds. They include the popular Selle Français, which has performed well in international sports competitions, and the powerful, expressive French Trotter (no need to guess what it is best known for!). The wild Camargue (indigenous to that area in southern France) and the French Saddle Pony (a sport pony for children and smaller adults). The country also breeds Thoroughbreds, Arabians and Anglo-Arabians.
France is considered a leader in breeding in the equestrian world. In fact, it’s the top exporter of horses to other parts of the world. Le Pin National Stud in Normandy is the rearing ground for 40% of all French racehorses and 30% of all French sport horses. Local leggett agent Lesley Okey is used to having clients visit because they are “horse mad” and want a property that is in the heart of the action. She says:
“Normandy is the centre of all things equine in France and we cater for all levels here, from the basic happy hackers, through to the highest levels of breeding/competition. Certainly, it’s the breeders first choice due to the fantastic local soil and grass. Additionally, Normandy boasts a 60km long “stud farm trail” and we have over 300 horse riding centres and 31 hippodromes – no wonder equestrian properties here are always so popular”.
Equestrian properties in France
The Leggett team in Normandy has a fine selection of equestrian properties to choose from. Recently there has been a record demand for properties in this sector. One of the ways that Covid 19 has affected the property sector, is the increased demand for rural property. Owners are seeking the chance to work from home whilst experiencing a better lifestyle. Equestrian properties are no exception.
As an example, we recently listed a magnificent property in lower Normandy with 14 bedrooms, 8.5 hectares that will set you back a smidge over 1m euros. Alternatively, if you want to splash out, how about an 18th century stud farm? It could be yours for 4,685,000 euros. If those are a tad high for your budget then a country estate sits in a natural park in the Orne would set you back less than 7000,00 euros.
Of course, the wonderful selection of equestrian properties is not confined to Normandy. Scroll through our 15,000+ listings and you will find plenty of other great homes (for animals of both two and four legs).
Horse riding in France
Wherever you choose, you will be amongst friends. Some two million French citizens ride horses regularly or occasionally. This places horse riding in the top tier of Olympic sports in the country. It is actually the No.1 sport in the country for women.
France has 8,600 clubs and 5,000 horse riding centres. There are also 400 equestrian tourism centres, specially equipped to welcome the one million equestrian tourists we see each year. They come to experience events such as the Longines FEI Jumping Nations Cup which takes place in La Baule each May, with big crowds hoping to see a home win. Another major outdoor show is Le Grand Complet. Held at the fabulous and aforementioned Haras du Pin, it spans over 1,000 hectares of land. The local tourist office describes it as “an innovation of architecture in the equestrian world, combining aristocracy with functionality”.
With the 2024 Olympic games being hosted in France, and equestrian events likely to get prime coverage, we are sure that there will be a spike for equestrian property here – why not get in beforehand? We will fully understand when you say that you will live in the house, but your home will be in the stable!
Joanna Leggett is head of Marketing at Leggett Immobilier, the leading international estate agent in France. View their listings at www.leggettfrance.com
Source for all figures: Federation Equestre International