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“Dispossession”: in Brittany, housing on the coast, a mission that has become almost impossible for the local population – Bretagne

“No one saw it coming… Since covid-19, the coast has become a vacation spot for the old rich”, says Marie Gauteur, a 41-year-old “peasant”, a resident of the village of Nostang, near Lorient ( Morbihan).

Forced by her landlord to vacate the T3 that she has been renting for fifteen years, this single mom is angry “against boomers and Airbnb”. After nine months of research, she found “only a mobile home at 650 euros per month”. “Since the Covid, prices have soared, people are throwing themselves on coastal habitat like scavengers and buying on photos”, testifies the nurseryman, who also notes “speculation on coastal agricultural land”.

In Saint-Malo (Ille-et-Vilaine), similar situation. Sébastien, a 28-year-old social worker, had to return to live with his parents, who live about thirty kilometers away, for lack of affordable housing in the corsair city.

“Explosive” equation

Brittany is not the only region concerned. The National Real Estate Federation (Fnaim) noted a price increase of 24.2% between May 2020 and April 2022 in 480 seaside resorts, compared to 14.6% for the whole of France. Search for space, nature and escape… “Since covid-19, the second home market has soared, causing the porosity of the main residences to climb”, analyzes Jean-Marc Torrollion, president of Fnaim .

At the same time, “local demand remained strong, especially in the Basque Country, where the strong natural demographic pressure was not anticipated by elected officials”, he continues, referring to an “explosive” equation. In Normandy, prices even rose from +5.2% before the crisis to +30.6% after.

“A market of speculation”

When the residences are not only secondary, “the little Parisians fill the schools again”, notes Pierre Lemée, notary near Deauville (Calvados). But most of the time, these massive influxes of population “relegate to tens of kilometers in the hinterland” the employees who work on the coast, he recognizes.

Until now limited to the southern facade, land pressure is now spreading to the Atlantic coasts and is prompting the mobilization of dozens of collectives. “We have workers who sleep in their car,” loose Txetx Etcheverry, representative of the Basque association Alda, which receives “80 to 90 files per week” of support requests.

In La Rochelle, the town hall has just banned furnished tourist accommodation of less than 35 m2 so as not to penalize student accommodation. “Since covid-19, it has become a speculative market, but we cannot discriminate against who arrives in the department,” sighs Pascale Leyon, real estate agent.


For the geographer Gérard-François Dumont, the situation is not new but is getting worse. “Since the 1990s, there has been a phenomenon of litturbanization and heliotropism with transfers of populations from metropolitan areas to the seaside deemed more pleasant,” he explains. More recently, the opening of TGV connections to the west, then covid, and the development of telework, have accelerated the process.

“In Brittany, 53% of new arrivals are over 60 years old and 80% go to the coasts, where they destabilize the real estate market due to their greater purchasing power”, adds geographer Yves Lebahy, who describes the coast as a “huge retirement home”.

“Côte d’Azurisation of the coast”

Corsica, which combines a high poverty rate, a very strong migratory balance and three times more second homes than on the continent, is recording the same phenomenon linked to covid. For the past year, arson attacks aimed mainly at second homes of “continentals” have multiplied there.

“We are witnessing a Côte d’Azurisation of the coastline which results in the eviction of the working classes and a feeling of dispossession”, observes the geographer Christophe Guilluy, who evokes a new “Atlantic Wall” in his essay “Les dispossessed”.

A classification of the Breton coast in a tense zone?

In mid-November, the government took up the subject by launching a working group. Among the solutions demanded, Gaël Roblin, member of a Costa Rican collective, recommends “a classification of the Breton coast as a tight zone, which would make it possible to regulate rents and to overtax secondary residences”.

The Association of elected officials from the coast (Anel) asks to “remove the legal and tax loopholes which favor seasonal rental”, or even to reserve areas “dedicated to permanent housing” in town planning documents.

letelegramme Fr Trans

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