Property prices in France have risen by 10% over the last year, pushed in part by British buyers? unrelenting demand for a second home in the French sunshine. In spite of this growth, however, French property remains competitively priced in comparison with the UK, where prices have increased by around 18% over the same period.

According to Abbey National France, mortgage applications between March and August 2004 increased by 17% compared with the same period in 2003, and the British now represent 40% of international property buyers, a figure which has doubled since 2000.

Italian and Belgian buyers are also taking advantage of the French market, accounting for 12% and 6% of international buyers respectively.

Buyers are drawn to character properties, the figures revealed, with old properties accounting for 81% of houses bought by international buyers in 2003.

John Woodhouse, Deputy Managing Director of Abbey National France, said: ?Buying a home in France has more appeal than ever amongst UK buyers.?

Mr Woodhouse believes that the process of buying a home in France is now much easier: ?That, combined with low mortgage interest rates and easy access to France by train, the Eurotunnel and low cost flights means that owning a property in France may be easier and more achievable than people first think,? he said.