The rules for installing air conditioning in your French home

Air conditioning does not come as standard in French homes, so if you want it this summer, you may need to install it yourself. However, as well as being expensive, this can be a complicated process.

The rules for installing air conditioning in your French home
A woman opens the door of a store bearing a poster announcing an air conditioning room in July 2022. (Photo by Loic VENANCE / AFP)

The first thing to look at is property ownership, and as you would expect this is a lot simpler if you own your own home, in a single building.

Single-family home owners

If you own your own house you can install air-conditioning, although depending on the works that you need to do you may need planning permission from the mairie, and if you live in a historic or protected zone you may not be able to make any alterations to the exterior of your building.

This means you will likely need to submit a ‘déclaration préalable‘ (found HERE), and you can count on processing times being at least a few weeks.

READ MORE: How to get planning permission for your French property

It’s also quite a costly undertaking.

An air conditioner itself ranges from €250 to €12,000, depending on its capabilities. You will also need to consider installation costs as well as annual maintenance fees, plus added energy expenses.

Communal buildings

If you live in an apartment or a shared building which has a syndicat (similar to a homeowner’s association in the US) you will almost certainly need to get permission from the syndic to install air-conditioning – even if you own your apartment.

If you intend to do any work that affects the exterior of the building you will likely also need planning permission. 

READ MORE: PROPERTY: What you need to know about ‘copropriété’ fees in France


If you rent your home, you will need permission from the landlord, who in turn may need permission from the building syndic if it is a shared building. The landlord is also responsible for getting the relevant planning permission.

Who bears the costs depends on the relationship you have with your landlord, if you are a great tenant and have a good relationship your landlord may agree to pay to get it installed, but this is far from being a standard feature of French homes so don’t expect the landlord to pay.

Your landlord may agree if you offer to pay the costs yourself, but they are under no obligation to do so, and it’s the landlord that is responsible for sorting out things like planning permission and (if applicable) agreement from the syndic


If you either can’t afford air-conditioning or your landlord isn’t keen on installing it (or you’re worried about the environmental impact – not only does AC guzzle energy, it also contributes to the ‘heat sink’ effect that can make cities up to 10C hotter than the surrounding area) there are some alternatives.

You could consider getting a heat pump – expensive to install but very eco-friendly, these will keep your home cool in the summer and warm in the winter. Because of their very low energy usage, they will also eventually end up saving you money on annual heating/cooling bills.

READ ALSO Everything you need to know about installing a heat pump in France

The alternative to a full air-conditioning system is a free-standing AC unit, which has a hose like a clothes dryer that hangs out of the window. These are less effective than full AC systems but nonetheless provide some cooling.

You won’t need planning permission as you’re not making any structural alterations, but if you live in a building with a syndic you may still need their permission to install one, depending on the rules of your building (some syndics are very strict and even forbid things like hanging clothes out to dry or storing items on your balcony).

The other alternative is an electric fan – either a desk fan or a standing fan – which don’t require any kind of installation or permission. These are on sale in almost all electrical retailers and many large supermarkets (although they often sell out in the first days of a heatwave).

READ MORE: 9 tips to keep your French home cool without air conditioning

There are also lots of ways of keeping your home cool without AC, including using shutters or curtains to block out the sun.

Member comments

  1. I am surprised you did not cover the far more efficient and effective heat pump (reversible) la pompe a chaleur. The cost is much lower and does not impose the same negative effects on the environment.

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Where are house prices falling and rising in France this autumn?

New data has revealed where house prices are rising and falling in France.

Where are house prices falling and rising in France this autumn?

A new study by BFM Business and the real-estate listings website, Bien’Ici, has revealed the latest trends in the French property market.

As well as showing where house prices are rising and falling, it pointed towards a difficult landscape for renters across many parts of France. 

Where are house prices falling?

According to the study, which appears to be wide-ranging but non-exhaustive, house prices are falling fastest in medium-sized towns and cities. 

The biggest price drops from September 2022 to September 2023 occurred in Amiens (-15 percent), Limoges (-10 percent) and Besançon (-9 percent). These figures are based on the per squared metre price of property listed for sale in these cities. 

Average house prices as a whole (not based on squared metres, but based on the overall valuation of properties listed for sale) also fell dramatically in Mulhouse (-21 percent) and Brest (-12 percent). 

Cities that have long been among the most expensive for buying property in France have also seen a marked decline in house prices, including in Paris (-4.7 percent), Lyon (-6.5 percent) and Bordeaux (-7.9 percent). 

READ ALSO: Why France is facing a ‘property crisis’

These dramatic declines in house prices follow a period of housing market inflation that followed the Covid pandemic. 

There is an over-supply of housing for sale in some areas, which has contributed to falling prices. The Bien’Ici listings website has never had so many properties for sale – 650,000 in September, or 68 percent more than in January 2022. 

Where are house prices rising? 

Over the same time period, prices have risen in many parts of southern France, including in Nice (+4.8 percent), Marseille (+1.9 percent) and Aix-en-Provence (+1.9 percent). 

The northern city of Rouen also registered a price increase of +3.3 percent over the course of a year. 

Experts say that cities like Marseille have long been undervalued and that rising prices in the city simply reflect the market balancing itself out. 

READ MORE: What you need to think about before buying that dream house in France

Where is the most expensive and cheapest property?

Unsurprisingly, the study indicates that the most expensive property for sale in France is in Paris, where the average rate is €11,079 per squared metre. 

The highest average prices outside the French capital are in Nice (€6,546 per squared metre), Aix-en-Provence (€6,139), Lyon (€5,219) and Bordeaux (€4,853). 

Across all the towns surveyed in the study, Saint-Etienne had the cheapest property for sale, at an average of just €1,578 per squared metre. 

After Saint-Etienne, the cheapest places to buy property were Mulhouse (€1,957 per squared metre), Le Havre (€2,637), Rouen (€2,905) and Dijon (€2,953). 

What about mortgage rates?

If you are a cash buyer, falling house prices means that now is a good time to buy in many parts of France.

But if you will need to get a mortgage, the situation is a little tricker because interest rates have continued to rise – by a factor of four in the space of barely 20-months. In September, maximum interest rates for a 20-year loan were capped at a staggering 5.56 percent, while many banks were lending at around 4 percent. 

READ MORE: How to get a mortgage in France

“When the rates are at 4 percent, shouldn’t we reflect on [putting in place] a more accessible rate for households?”, said Economy Minister, Bruno Le Maire, in a recent interview with Le Parisien

The government is looking into putting in place a scheme, known as the prêt à taux bonifié (PTB), where qualifying people would be able to access mortgages at half the market rate. But French media report that it is unlikely to come into force before 2025. 

Rental market trends 

Rental prices across the 10 largest cities in France have gone up by an average of 3.2 percent in the year to September, according to a separate study released by SeLoger, widely reported in the French media. 

“There are red signals everywhere in the rental market,” reads the report. 

Nice (+6.1 percent), Marseille (+4.9 percent) and Strasbourg (+4.6 percent) saw notable rent increases over the course of the year. 

This phenomenon largely stems from an undersupplied rental market, with many property owners now looking to sell rather than rent their asset out. In 2019, 35 percent of the properties listed on Bien’Ici were for rent. Today, that figure stands at just 16 percent. 

The SeLoger study showed that in the year running to September, the number of rental properties available in Rennes shrunk by 42.9 percent; in Paris by 38.3 percent; and in Marseilles and Bordeaux by 15.8 percent. The figure is even more dramatic if you measure the reduced rental supply in Paris since July 2021 – it has fallen by 68.2 percent. 

“Nothing suggests an improvement to the stock shortage and rising rents in the coming months,” said Barbara Castillo Rico, a SeLoger researcher cited by L’Express

She also offered a further explanation: “Households are abandoning plans to buy property because of tougher financing conditions and so are not moving out of rental properties, which leads to increased tension in the rental market.”