Whether you think you can still find affordable French property is going to depend to a large extent on a couple of factors. Where in France you want to live and how much work you want to do. If you're prepared to live away from the coasts and mountain ski resorts you'll find some very good value houses in France. French property gets even more affordable if you're prepared to get your hands dirty.
There are a lot of misconceptions about the French property market. Many people seem to think you can buy yourself a French house for next to nothing. Sure, if you live in the south east of England you'll find a similar place in France for about 25 - 30% of the price, but gone are the days when you could buy a six bedroom farmhouse with a few acres of land for 50,000. The market has matured and, unfortunately for us, the French are much more aware of what they've got and what they can get for it.
Similarly, people think that you can buy a wreck and renovate for peanuts. It's just not the case. French building workers, electricians, plumbers, etc., are usually highly skilled and in great demand, which of course means they're not cheap! If you have the skills to do it yourself, you'll find materials at a good price. Can you do building work and electrics and plumbing? Can you do them to the increasingly stringent French standards? If you can't, you might find your home insurance is invalidated.
But, I don't want to give the impression that it's all doom and gloom and bargains can't be had. For many of us France is still a country with lots of very desirable and very affordable property.
There are genuine bargains on older properties that are very popular with foreign buyers but not with the French. The majority of the French would rather live in a new house than renovate. Indeed, it's a much cheaper choice for them. In addition to this, it's difficult for the French to get a mortgage on a house that requires renovation. Finally, there's the lack of employment in many rural areas that leaves many young French people with no option but to move to the towns and cities.
If you want to live by the coast, you're probably going to struggle to find something. As a general rule, these areas have been well developed over the last ten to fifteen years. The barns that could be converted - have been done. The houses in need of renovation - have been renovated. The north coast is still not expensive by many people's standards, but prices drop quickly when you come inland.
As you move down the west coast, prices increase until the south where they're just plain expensive by anyone's standards. Nice and Cannes is millionaire territory and the alps aren't cheap. Fine if you want a fortnight skiing, but not the place to look for bargain homes!
No, it's the rural heart of France that offers the real bargains even now. The Limousin has become more popular recently with an influx of Dutch, German and English buyers in part due to improved air links. It's the Centre that offers the best house values in France at the moment though. If you're looking for truly affordable French property, that's the place to go.
Jeff's invaluable book is available at http://frenchpropertybuyersguide.com