The Other House

The Secondary Residence in Postwar France

in French Politics, Culture & Society

From the early 1960s to the mid-1980s, a revaluation of the French countryside as a site of leisure and as a place to imagine France’s rural past fueled an unprecedented boom in the ownership of peasant houses by urban dwellers for use as secondary residences. Peasants, shopkeepers, and artisans abandoned the countryside in extraordinary numbers in the 1950s and 1960s. They left behind a vast stock of old houses and agricultural buildings. Soon boarded-up farm houses and derelict barns caught the interest of members of the prospering urban middle class looking to purchase, as well as city dwellers of more modest income who inherited a family property in their pays d’origine.