A report on secondary residences in France published by INSEE on Wednesday revealed that 34% are owned by the 10% of households with the highest standard of living.
There are approximately 3.2 million second homes in France, mostly with elderly owners and in urban locations. In some regions, the ratio of second homes is as high as 80% of the total housing market.
With one in ten homes in the country defined fiscally as a secondary residence—“furnished premises, used for housing, not permanently occupied and subject to tax”—France has one of the highest number of second homes in developed countries.
Based on INSEE data from 2017, 40% (1.3 million) of second homes are along the coast, and 530,000 located in the mountains at 750 meters or higher. This represents 16% of the total of second homes (including 10% in the Alpine massif).
The remaining 44% of secondary residences are located inland, in the countryside. Densely populated areas off the coast make up 380,000 (12%) of the dwellings—including houses or apartments in Greater Paris (196,000), Lyon (16,000), Toulouse and Bordeaux (11,000 each)—that act as “a pied-à-terre for workers, retirees or foreigners.”
The INSEE study cross-referenced with fiscal data and therefore the findings do not correspond per city but by public establishment of inter-municipal cooperation (EPCI). Based on this formula, the Catalan Pyrenees (in the Pyrénées-Orientales department) holds the ratio record for the most second homes compared to primary residences: 81%.
Of the 282,400 primary residences in the Métropole Nice Côte d'Azur, 54,900 (16.3%) are second homes, while for Cannes Pays de Lérins, the ratio nearly doubles to 31.3% with 39,300 second homes compared to 86,400 primary. The Alpes-Azur Alpes d'Azur counts 5,800 second homes compared to main dwellings (58.6%).
INSEE stated, “Among the second homes owned by a household residing in France, 66% are owned by households aged 60 or over, against only 38% of the total of main residences.” Secondary home owners “in large cities are much younger than in the countryside, on the coast or in the mountains.”