Yonne Property Insight

Yonne is one of the four departments of the Burgundy region, the other ones being Cote d’Or, Nievre and Saone et Loire. The department is named after the Yonne River running through the whole department from south to north. The River is a tributary of the Seine River. The administrative centre of the department is Auxerre, the sub centres being Avallon and Sens. With 345,000 inhabitants, called the Icaunais, Yonne is the third department of the region in terms of population. It is also a very attractive area, with a positive growth population.


Indeed, while many departments in France are facing departure of their population, Yonne can boast to attract more and more people every year. As all departments, Yonne was artifically created after the Revolution, in 1789, and it was made up with three different areas: a part of the Burgundy Province, a part of the Champagne Province, and a part of the Orléanais. This mix has made Yonne a very rich cultural and historical area.

Yonne economic activities were based from the 16th century to the 20th century on timber floating. The former idea was to provide Paris with firewood. This method started to be used during the 16th century, and during four centuries it was Burgundy main economical activity. Timber rafting is a log transportation method in which logs are tied together into rafts and drifted or pulled across a water body or down a flatter river. It is arguably the second cheapest method of transportation of timber, next after log driving.

Nowadays, this method is not used any longer; however, many economical activities are still based on the wood industry. Agricultural activities are also significant in this rural area. And finally tourism plays also a role in Yonne growth.

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Yonne Immobilier & Property Market Trends

Property prices in the Yonne department in April 2009

Property types Price €/ sq m Average price € Average size
Apartment 2,410 145,938 62sq m
House 1,717 211,176 129sq m
Farm 1,639 222,051 146sq m
Yonne Total €1,765/sq m

Since the national average for house prices is €3,200/sq m in 2009, the Yonne department is rather a cheap department with €1,765/sq m. This is understandable, as the entire Burgundy region is very affordable (€1,744/sq m) and this can be explained as it is a very rural area.

Owing to its prices and its quietness, Yonne can be an excellent place if you wish to buy a property far from pollution and crowded of the city. It is also a good location to invest in a buy-to-let. Indeed, as the department is the traditional starting point of the Saint Jacques de Compostelle walkway, it attracts many tourists and pilgrims from all over the Europe and France. You may want to invest especially in a gîte as this is what pilgrims are looking for.

To get updated info about property prices in Yonne, please browse our French Property Market Reports published in the News Section every month.

Click here to have an overview of Bourgogne Property Prices.

4 Reasons to Buy a Property in Yonne

  • Saint Jacques de Compostelle walkway: there are four historical walkways to go to Compostelle from France: Puy-en-Velay, Arles, Vézelay and Tours. From these ones many new ones have appeared along the years; however they might not display as many historical and religious monuments as the 4 historical ones. Vézelay, is hence the starting point of the third historical walkway, and as a result it gathers plenty of historical and religious monuments. The most impressive one is probably the Sainte-Marie-Madeleine Basilica, it was listed in 1979 as a UNESCO world heritage. Do not miss neither the Saint Etienne old church, the Saint Pierre old church and the Cordelle chapel.

  • Architecture: Yonne displays many authentic towns and villages which have been very well preserved. The main feature in the area is the colombage, indeed each single old houses boasts beautiful half-timbered houses which participate to the beauty of villages. If you go to Joigny you will appreciate the Renaissance half-timbered houses, if you go to Auxerre you will be amazed by this art and historical town. The secret of all Yonne towns and villages is a preserved historical town centre with a lively countryside.

  • Tranquillity and scenery: as already said, Yonne is a very rural area which boasts many parks, forests, hills, rivers, etc. Located few hours from Paris, the area is a real haven for nature lovers. The department is not homogeneous, and you will find as many different places as there are different countries. There are mainly five different areas, each of them with different characteristics.

  • Rental opportunities: as already mentioned, Yonne is a very popular destination amongst Compostelle pilgrims. As a consequence you will not have difficulties letting your gîte from March to September. You will not have to expect high prices, however, owing to a very high turnover, you should have a quick return on investment.

Local Property Market: 4 Popular Towns

  • Auxerre property: being the administrative centre of the department, Auxerre is a rather big town. It displays a beautiful and preserved medieval town centre where you will be able to see half-timbered houses as well as Renaissance and 18th century mansions. With only €1,800/sq m, prices in Auxerre are the highest in the department, but they remain rather low if compared to the national average.
  • Avallon property: located on the axis Paris-Lyon, Avallon is a lovely medieval town which has much to offer: a fascinating history, beautiful sceneries, monuments and a pleasant way of life. Property prices are really low in the area with an average price of €1,157/sq m in May 2009 for a property to buy.
  • Joigny property: this 'town of Art and History' is definitely not to be missed when visiting the Yonne department. Its half-timbered houses, castle and medieval vestiges attract many people. Fine wine is produced in the area (Côte St Jacques). There are many bargains to be driven in Joigny and its surroundings.
  • Sens property: this lovely town has much to offer: tranquility, greenery, beautiful architecture… you can’t help being seduced by Sens. Property prices there are affordable: this is a good location either you are looking to settle in the area or let your property.

Property Styles and Architecture in Yonne

  • Half-timbered houses: this kind of house is very common in Yonne, and as a result, often the department is called the ‘colombage country’! Most of them also come with a corvelling structure, in order to support the upper floors, which are usually larger than the ground floor. The ground floor is made of cob and stones (sometimes), while upper floors are made of cob and timber. Timber pieces are juxtaposed in order to draw some geometrical shapes. Most of houses also are decorated with red or pink flowers, which accentuate the white color of the wall and the dark color of the timber.

  • Farmhouses: average farmhouses are composed of 3 main buildings: the dwelling, the stable and the cowshed. The habitable part is composed of 3 main rooms, the bedroom, a common room, and a grain warehouse. Dwellings have usually been restored, and as a consequence timber facades were remplaced with stones, only outbuildings have keps their half timbered facades. This dwelling is ideal if you wish to open a gîte, as you can renovate also outbuildings in order to rent as many roomns as possible.

Click here for more info about the Architecture in Bourgogne.

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Take a closer look at the Yonne property market:
Auxerre Property Information Avallon Property Information
Joigny Property Information Sens Property Information