It nearly always refers to a terraced house, without a garden or yard, right in the middle of a tight network of ancient streets. Village houses seldom refer to recent building; indeed it is more often associated with mediaeval villages or small towns. The property may be associated with a garden or allotment, but this will frequently be outside the village limits (or walls) in an area devoted to vegetable gardens.

Above all, the term 'village house' means a relatively cheap property. This is because previously the nature of the villages in question meant that the lack of light, the proximity of traffic and the difficulty of renovation made these houses less attractive. The desire of local people to escape to modern bungalows on the outskirts has resulted in cheap and relatively unrenovated properties in the heart of countless French villages.

Today, these properties are becoming more and more attractive.
There are four main reasons:

• By-passes and ring-roads have reduced motor traffic in the older villages almost completely. They are now a delight to wander through and to live in.
• Modern machinery, hoists and lifts make it easier now to have building materials delivered on site: tiles, plasterboard and beams can all be delivered to any location
• Planning laws in some regions allow owners to open up 'terrasses provençales' – roof terraces – at the top of the building.
• Lock and leave. Not having gardens or yards, these properties are much easier to shut up for the winter Thus they are very suitable for second homes.

What to look for when buying a village house.

• Access: can you get a van or car up to the door?
• Parking: is there space for parking next to the house or will you have to use a communal park further away?
• Orientation: does it face south? How much light will there be in winter?
• Attic space: Could it be converted into bedrooms? Opened up as a roof terrace?
• The village: is there a café, a baker, a grocer, a Primary school?

In general you should not pay more than €100,000 for a village house. But there are exceptions: occasionally there are gems that come on to the market - manor houses with gardens around which the village or town has grown. Like this old 18th century mansion now operating as a Bed and Breakfast. It even has a pool!