The Marie

22 Replies



I have just purchased a property near ploermel (56) and now have to get down to the work of renovation. I would like to go and see the Marie to find out what planning permission etc I would need. Does anyone know if you can just turn up at his office or do you need to make an appointment? I am returning to France in the Autumn but would like to sort this out before I leave. Also where could i find out about getting childern registered for a school, Do you have to be living/working their firsts or can this be sorted out before hand?  

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Les Palmiers-381714 1060787910


If you know the phrase "let sleeping dogs lie" then it would be useful to remember this when dealing with French beurocrats !

What have you bought, what condition is it in now, and what do you want to do with it ??

And with children and schools, I suggest just going to see the Mairie and they will guide you through the paperwork - and no , normally you dont need to be in work, they welcome children anyway.



Eddy-381876 1060804942

Would agree to a certain amount of that Les.. but have found it helpful if you allow the local Marie etc have a look at you. Should think that Marie the best starting place for  you.

re the schooling, a neighbour who's daughter of 14 years, can only sing the praises of the system, also aware of other who have encountered no great problems.

imagine you're doing the right thing, seeking the advise, experiences of others. Good luck. have to get off to boules.

Yvonne Mills-381978 1060873373

First of all it's the MAIRIE not the MARIE. Second, find out their opening hours and just go there to get all the necessary forms- a "permis de construire' is what you need. Then fill it in. You nedd to have plans (in French) to submit to them with the form. If it's only internal work, the French seem not to be concerned except for Taxe d'Habitation and insurance which you have to pay according to the number of liveable rooms. If it's external, you probably will need planning permission but if it's just, for example, renewing the roof without changing anything, you can do this without permission. The builders will also help you on this. Pleas phone me if you have specific queries. 02 33 60 08 09.

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dfirons 1060878787

Thanks for your replies.


The house I have purchased is a ‘Longere’ and about one sixth of it is habitable. This is enough to live in whilst the rest of the works are carried out. The first task is to make it water tight, the roof therefore is my first job. I also want to fit some velux windows. The main works are to be done inside and the exterior to remain the same.


I will eventually just be adding a few bedrooms, bathrooms etc..


With the roof complete, I feel that then will be the time to up sticks in the UK and settle in Ploermel. I am looking to move over there in spring next year.


Hence the question about the schools.


Thanks for you help I will call in on the Mairie…. Wish me luck?!

Eddy-381876 1060887586

there's also an 'e' on the end of please but, you understand, i'm not making a drama about it.

Yvonne Mills-381978 1060888239

Yes, I agree- please does have an 'e' on it. Thanks! Now I'm so confused that I'm not sure who I'm replying to but if it's any help to the would-be immigrant, Velux windows do usually need planning permission. This requisite varies from canton to canton but the mairie will tell you. The rest seems straightforward enough except, as I said, the Trésorerie and the Insurance company will need to know how much of the building is/will be habitable. Hope this helps.

And I didn't mean to be rude concerning spelling. It's just that the English usually like to get it right if they can and I was assuming you were no exception.



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Les Palmiers-381714 1060899695


If this building has in parts been used for agricultural use and is in the country-side and you havn't a Certificate d'urbanism DO NOT try putting in a permis de construire for your velux's. (sorry Yvonne, but i did spell mairie correctly . . . . . )

They will refuse you planning permission and your project will be sunk - these are the rules.

Instead, you have a choice, will anyone notice that you are putting in velux's??

Only if so, then submit a Declaration de travaux just for the Velux's and keep shtum for the interior work. I can quote at least four examples of refused projects of this nature.

Do not excite the planning people - softly does it !!! One of our local Architects (who should know better) regularily submits grand plans for gite complex's or barn conversions, knowing full well it will be refused but also knowing that his cheque has cleared for the plans and submission.

As I have mentioned on other threads, interior work does not excite them, it is only the exterior changes. The interior changes will affect your taxes but only when you tell them when everything is 100% finished ( is any project? - catch my drift . . . . .)

If confused, or requiring further clarification, dont hesitate to e-mail me on the link above . . . . .



Yvonne Mills-381978 1060902044

Les may be right but I can only speak from my own experiences. I have a barn (agricultural use,) next to my property in the countryside and I have received planning permission to convert it into a dwelling - no problem. I employed an English architect who trained in France. Maybe Les doesn't know an honest architect, or maybe the rules in Brittany are different from those in Normandy. My own personal feeling is that it all depends on the local Maire. If he's sympathetic there isn't usually a problem. But, it boils down to the same thing - go and see him first and discuss your thoughts with him.

If you'd prefer to keep hush-hush about what's going on and when (or whether) it's ever finished, it's your decision. But sooner or later, bureaucracy catches up with you.

I repeat, I have only ever had positive and constructive advice from my local maire, mairie and builder. I hope you will find the same.


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Les Palmiers-381714 1060904620


While I acknowledge that this is the way it has been for a long time, EEC rules on "green belt" land are now being enforced in Brittany.

Is your barn under 20sq metres? This can slip through on a local approval, anything larger should now be referred to the Regional planning office - who in Morbihan, now follow the rules to the letter.

My reason for explaining all this is, once again, to warn all potential purchasers of lovely groups of farm buildings, requiring restoration before creating a lovely (and profitable) gite complex, to sign the compromis de vente "subject to a valid certificate d'urbanism". Then and only then are you sure of local opinion and approval for your proposals.

I have seen too many broken dreams because of this, if I can stop one more then I will be happy !

The most recent refusal for Morbihan I have seen, involved an in ground swimming pool which was proposed to be 3 metres into the agricultural land adjoining the house, which was also the property of the house. Locmine refused the permission on the grounds that the land could no longer be useable for agriculture. . . . . . . . . .




Les Palmiers-381714 1060905032

Oh and Yvonne,

I am trying to be positive with my advice and of course i know lots of good and honest local Architects and Builders (? - well some at least . . . . ?)

As indeed I know some good local Estate Agents. (That surprised you didnt it !    :-)

I also know of several bad ones, who consistently do the same tricks, hence the warning !



Yvonne Mills-381978 1060943507


Yes I agree wholeheartedly with trying to prevent any broken dreams and I think your advice about not signing the "compromis" without a 'subject to....' is excellent advice. No, it didn't surprise me that you know both bad and good estate agents. Me too! The least one can do is warn people before the event. Regarding the EC regs. Well, since I'm in Normandy and you're in Brittany, there could be a difference. My barn is huge - certainly more than 20 sq metres and our neighbours up the road have just completed a massive conversion of a barn which is full of Velux windows (legal ones). True, things are tightening up - septic tanks for instance are now subject to many more controls than they were.

But I repeat yet again, there's nothing like going to chat to the local maire AND if there's anything like we have in Normandy, there is a service from the Conseil Général (C.A.U.E. here) which employs an architect to give advice to would-be builders/renovators free of charge and even gives advice on obtaining grants to do some of the work. I found them most helpful....

Anyway, best wishes to our friend in his future projects



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dfirons 1060957863


Is there such a service called the Conseil Général (C.A.U.E.) in Brittany (as mentioned by Yvonne). Is this similar to CASTOR for the self-builders. I have heard about CASTOR, but that is another route I need to pursue.

This could also be useful to me.

I can't wait until I see the Mairie now. It is all getting rather exciting.

I will take a soft approach, when talking to the Mairie, I do not want to turn it into a Gite complex, just a 4 bedroom home. We are not over looked by anyone so I cannot really see that there will be any problems/objections about the Velux.

Is my spelling getting any better, I’m starting to get paranoid....




Yvonne Mills-381978 1060960464


No need to get paranoid - your spelling's fine. No, it's not the same as CASTOR and since you've made it clear that you don't want to make gites etc. C.A.U.E. may not be of use to you. But be warned that, if long term, you do wish to create gites, you can only get a grant if the work has not been started.

I'll let you have more info. if you want.

Best wishes


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Yvonne Mills-381978 1060984298


Your local c.a.u.e. (conseil d'Architecture, d'Urbanisme et de l'Environnement) is at 138 rue Olivier de Clisson,56000 Vannes. Their tel. no. is 02 97 54 17 35 and their fax no. is 02 97 47 89 52. You can ring and make an appointment with them. It's free.They really were very helpful when I consulted them and they'll provide you with a list of architects who will prepare plans if you need them but will anyway tell you what is/is not possible.

Good luck!


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Bronwyn Johnston 1061202789

Hi Everyone,

Just drifted on here and read with interest all the information.  Don't quote me but I have read somewhere that if a barn has some kind of chimney it can be converted from agricultural to habitable space.  Has anyone else heard this?



Les Palmiers-381714 1061210157


A very common misconception, heard often in the company of unregistered property sales people and completely untrue . . . . . . . . . . . . ! 




Pam Morton-381801 1061242792


         All the best,




Eddy-381876 1061244288

Dif, You're back where you started. pay them a visit, office hours will probably be displayed at entrance. Good luck.

Deadcalm 1061313839

Dear Yvonne, please allow me to introduce ourselves, we are Pat & Bill Knott residing at present in the UK in a village in Cumbria, we read one of your mails regarding discussions re planning laws and noted you are in Normandy.
We are to visit Normandy in October of this year to view a property near Brionne, the area we believe is called Eure.
Could you tell us what if anything you know of the area we have never been to this area before, Normandy we mean. We are learning to speak the language as of course if we reside their then we must be able to converse in their language, we would be most grateful for any assistance you can offer.
Regards Bill & Pat.

MaureenTwitchen 1061316421

Heavans   what a lot of conflicting views . any problems with building of any kind , first vist the TOWN HALL  (CALL IT WHAT YOU LIKE) then ask for the address of the DDE planning and architecture department for your area, they are very helpful and will guide you through everything . all you need to begin with is a certificate of urbanisation  good luck MAT

M A Twitchen

Yvonne Mills-381978 1061333669

Dear Deadcalm

What a name! Hope you live up to your expectations! If you want any info about Normandy (though I don't know Eure specificaly) do feel free to call me on 0033 2 33 60 08 09. I won't be available to talk at lenght before Friday but you can always leave a message and I can get back to you at a convenient time.

Best wishes, Yvonne

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Yvonne Mills-381978 1061333870

MAT has certainly summarised all our perambulations. So, Mairie first, DDE (or CAUE next) who, as she says, are extremely helpful and informative.

Again dif, good luck!


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