Tuesday, 29 October 2013

Renovation project - obtaining planning permission in France

Renovation project - obtaining planning permission in France

We try to get to the shops before lunch as I have a meeting with the planning office today, yes a scary thing at the best of times, but trying to do it in a foreign language is very scary.

I am kicking myself as I met with them last year but never got around to completing the paper work, and last year there was an officer that spoke English, this year it is a woman who doesn’t.

We have got to apply for planning permission to change some of the windows. I take a friend with me, for 
just in case, but I manage most of the meeting with very little translation help required.

We have to complete a DECLARATION PREALABLE to state what work we are going to do, we are changing 2 windows like for like and 2 skylight windows for maybe bigger windows.

The paper work appears immense and I have taken photos along with me. It turns out that I need 3 photo’s of what it looks like now and then I have to somehow show what it will look like when it is completed, the easiest way of doing this, is to attach tracing paper over the photo with the drawn on after picture.

The measurements have to be exact and a description of the colour and material, once handed in it will take a month for the decisions to come through.

We have been informed by others that if it is like for like and the same material planning permission is not required, one of these people lives near the mayor and he gave this info. But to be on the safe side we will follow the advice given by the planning office, as the same mayor may not always be in office!

This is one of the biggest tips we can ever give, France does love paperwork and beaurocacy, FOLLOW IT!!!!!! If you can speak French (or at least show you are trying) the officers do seem to be very helpful.
Many people complain about the paperwork and how difficult things are, but if you think about it, if somebody came in to your local planning office, could not speak your language, how helpful would the staff be (and if you were in the queue behind them, how patient would you be?????).

I have also discussed the plans for the B&B and have been given the, DECLARATION EN MARIE DE LOCATION DE CHAMBRE D’HOTE, again we have been told this is not necessary as we will only have 2 rooms and will not be providing food, other than breakfast. But again, we want to do things right and we want to get on the right side of the town hall and mayor. We will have to wait a little while before we complete this as the mayor may want to come and visit, we do not want him here while his suit could get covered in dust, that would not be a good first impression, plus we have just found out we will be going to a Christmas party with him and his family, so we may get to know him a bit first (it never does you any harm to make friends with the mayor of the town!)

Top tips
  • If you are going to do any work on a property check to see if you need planning permission
  • Try to speak to the planning office in their own language (you are in that country after all)
  • Try to make friends with the Mayor  (wine seems to help) 


  1. We had to do the same with new Velux windows - really simple. The lady at the Mairie took my photos, drew on the new window and wrote the dimensions for me. What happens next is after a month if you don't hear anything you can go ahead - we got a note that said "the mayor does not see any reason why you can't do this" - and that was it!

    1. the lady at our Marie was very helpful, but I have to do my own drawings, luckily as the are all the same we should have no problem

  2. Can I add another tip? Make sure that you get your info from an official source. Mr next door might tell you you don't need to bother for permission for this or that but he might not know what he's talking about. One of my husband's colleagues offered to buy our house. He said we didn't need to go to the expense of going through the authorities... can you imagine the problems that would arise a couple of years down the line?

    1. thanks Anji, I would dread to imagine the problems. In the UK you hear horror stories all the time, but usually told by people who have not followed all of the official lines, it may be a pain but it gets you what you want in the knowledge that if anything goes wrong you have full legal backing