Tuesday, 7 October 2008

Archive Records

It never ceases to amaze me the number of archive records that are gradually being put onto the Internet - and are available for us to browse.

I have been looking on http://archives.herault.fr ,which has various things of interest if you happen to live in Herault like us!

I found the most recent census records (1930) loaded for our hamlet and spotted one person on there who we knew when we first came to the village. Réné (who has since died unfortunately) was 3 years old!

In particular, I love to see the old postcards of towns and villages we know that have been put on - fascinating!
In the fifth postcard on this page (number 35) we can see our apartment/house in Lamalou - just, since we know where to look!
The cadastre records are gradually being loaded as well and are available to view on http://www.cadastre.gouv.fr/scpc/accueil.do.

These are invaluable to anyone looking at properties in France, I can assure you! Whenever we saw a potential property, we ALWAYS went to the local Mairie and asked for a copy of the relevant cadastre records, and talked to them about the 'owners' listed. They can refuse, but more often than not they were happy to photocopy the records for us. Usually they actually knew the family and the history behind the sale - which was often an eye opener.

In one instance we found out that the person trying to sell the property was not in fact the actual owner (!), and in another case that the garage and out-buildings being sold with the property were actually owned by one of the staff at the Mairie - who had NO intention of selling them!

The cadastres detail all the parcels of land and buildings as recorded on the official records and the web site also has very useful tools that allow you to measure distance, perimeter and area (a very clever bit of web-programming in fact).

For example, our property is actually made up of 6 different elements, each with a specific number, certified area and usage designation (ie one part of our garden is constructable whilst the other is agricultural).

Yesterday we were looking at the web cadastre plan(s) for our hamlet and at our 6 elements specifically, when both Richard and I questioned whether our two garden bits actually looked like the cadastre plan said they should. We were convinced that the upper garden was narrower than the plan showed it to be. We had been robbed of about two metres in width!!!!

On the web-site, we asked it to measure the distance between two specific points in our garden and it came up with 19.38 m.

We grabbed our measuring tape and raced up the garden.....and we measured it to be 19.3 m.

OK, smart arses. So your web-site cadastre plans ARE impressively accurate. But still, 8 centimetres is 8 centimetres.....

It is also possible on this site to look at very, very old cadastre plans (well it was for our Commune anyway, not sure about yours!) and it was fascinating to compare it with our cadastre plans now. Our house was there all those years ago, so the date stone in the front wall is right!!

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