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The French land registry plans are known as the « cadastre ».The French Cadastre derives from the napoleonian Cadastre and applies to all urban and rural properties (built or not). The literal information is strictly linked to the geographical one.

A plot is defined as an entity linked to an owner and to a fiscal division, following the napoleonian concept. Basically, the cadastre has a fiscal function evoluting to an informative function and having, additionally, a certain probative function. The "Conservation des Hypothèques" Bureau keeps and manages the Land Register. In the Creuse it is located in Guéret (centre des impots fonciers).

The Cadastre is homogeneous on the whole French metropolitan territory with some small discrepancies for the Alsace-Moselle cadastre. From the outset users have had access to the cadastral documents. Anybody can consult these documents and obtain copies at the cadastre offices.

A copy of the local cadastre will be held in the local mairie, or the local land registry office, called the Centre des Impôts Fonciers- conservation des Hypothèques. You are entitled to visit their offices and freely inspect it.

Copies and extracts from the register and the plan are given for various purposes :
- people seeking fiscal information (basis of assessment of local taxes ...) or property information (situation and contents of property ...),
- accomplishment of real estate registration formalities for property transfers.

The French tax authorities have now made available online the land registry plans for large areas in France and there is an English version : http://www.cadastre.gouv.fr/scpc/changeLangue.do?lang=en&cty=EN

It provides a very useful source of propert information for international French property buyers.
Unlike the UK land registry site, there is no details available either as to personal ownership nor the price paid by the present owner

The main missions of the cadastre are :
- fiscal (evaluation of real estate, determination of the bases for property taxes, identification of the taxable owners),
- legal and property related (identification and physical description of properties),
- technical (establishment of the cadastral plan and keeping it up-to-date, topographical pictures essential for the identification and physical description of the property if question).

But the plan cadastral is not proof of ownership. It is merely an administrative document. Moreover, the cadastre does not show the precise boundaries between properties and, as a result, they are not a definitive statement of the legal boundaries of a property, which can only be established by a land survey.

The cadastre plans literally tell you what you are about to purchase, so it's very important to study them carefully before making an offer.

The information on the plan cadastral may not be completely up to date, as it can take up to three years for new developments or other changes to be entered on to the plan.