Poitou-Charentes Property Guide

 

Poitou-Charentes property is popular with the Brits due to the good all year weather and lower property prices. But there is much more to Poitou-Charentes! Poitou-Charentes is half-way down France’s Atlantic coast. The capital is the ancient university city of Poitiers. One in every three people in Poitiers is under the age of thirty and one in every four is a student. It follows then that two in every three people in Poitiers are over the age of thirty, though some of them may still be students. Of these, it is believed that as many as one in seven may be statisticians.

The first Bishop of Poitiers, from 350 to 367, was Saint Hilarius. The name of the second bishop is not recorded.

Poitiers-born Eleanor of Aquitaine was the eldest daughter of William X (the tenth, not a radical pseudonym) and granddaughter of Countess Dangereuse (they’re making this up!) The court in which she grew up was the most cultured in Europe and the birthplace of ‘courtly love’ (no sonnets on the first date).

Her first husband was Louis VII. In 1146 they embarked together on the Second Crusade, referred to in subsequent accounts as ‘Ye Terminal Fyve of Crusades’. Half way across the Phrygian mountains, Eleanor and Louis started a ‘domestic’ over the amount of luggage she’d brought (plus ça change). While they were still bickering, the Turks attacked. Surviving the attack but somewhat discouraged, Ellie and Lou decided to go for an easier target and attacked Damascus – much to the surprise of their allies, the Damascans. An act of indiscriminate slaughter and pillage can often bring a couple closer together (Relayte Handebooke, 1178) but not the Aquitaines, who eventually returned to Poitiers on separate ships.

The medieval port of La Rochelle is capital of the Charente Maritime department and, over the years, has been besieged more time that you’ve had hot dinners. It was a German U-boat base in the war and was the last French city to be liberated. Just offshore is the island fortress of Fort Boyard, made famous by the Five TV gameshow of that name. The producers agonised for minutes over casting before settling on Leslie Grantham as a sadistic gaoler and Tom Baker as a deranged sea captain.

The capital of the Deux-Sèvres department is Niort, which used to make leather breeches for the cavalry and is now France’s risk-assessment capital. Seems a logical progression. Angelica (that green stuff your Gran used to put on cakes) is grown in the nearby Poitevin marshes. Angelica can boost the immune system and cause local anaesthesia. Brilliant.

© 2008 richardheacock @ mac.com

Location:

Poitou-Charentes is a region located on the Atlantic coast – located midway between the North and South of the country. Western Loire and Centre is on the north border; to the East – Limousin and on the southern border Aquitaine. There are four departments: Charente, Charente-Maritime, Deux-Sevres, and Vienne. The regional capital is Poitiers.

Landscape:

Sandy beaches runs down the west coast to the Gironde estuary (becomes mud flats at this point). Pine trees flank the beaches north of La Rochelle. Inland the landscape is gently rolling in the North and becomes more varied towards the South as you approach the Dordogne. Rivers criss cross the region. This an agricultural area with cattle and wide range of crops. Towards the south there are many vineyards.

Attractions/ Towns:

La Rochelle
The city has beautifully maintained its past architecture, making it one of the most picturesque and historically rich cities on the Atlantic coast. This helped develop a strong tourism industry. The city is connected to the Île de Ré (island) by a 2.9 km bridge, completed in 1988. Its harbour opens into a protected strait, the Pertuis d’Antioche.

Cognac
Cognac is situated on the river Charente between the towns of Angoulême and Saintes. The majority of the town has been built on the river’s left bank, with the smaller right bank area known as the Saint Jacques district. Surrounded by the “Cognac” vineyards, the town is dominated by its association with the Cognac industry – with all the well brands having visitor centres – visit: Hennessy, Courvoisier, Otard, Martell and Remy Martin.

Poitiers
Poitiers is a town on the Clain River in west central France. The town is picturesque; and its streets are interesting for their remains of ancient architecture, especially of the Romanesque period, and the memories of great historical events. On the outskirts of the city you will find the fabulous Parc de Futuroscope – spend a wonderful day here.

Saintes
Saintes is a town in the Charente-Maritime département, located on the banks of the river Charente. There is many examples of Roman architecture including the amphitheatre which can be found on the left bank of the Charente, near the summit of the hill upon which the town was built. It is notable in that its tiers (the cavea) are built against the hill and an embankment.

Weather/Climate

On the coast the weather is excellent all year round – matching the temperatures on the Med coast. Even in the winter the climate is mild although sub-zero temperatures can occur in the inland rural areas.

Average temperatures in Poitou-Charentes
La Rochelle Jan=8 April=15 July=24 Oct=18°C

Getting there

By rail
Good rail links to the main towns in the region
By Air
A number of low cost air-lines operate from various locations in the U.K. directly to La Rochelle and Poitiers.
By Ferry
Ferry services are frequent with direct routes to the ports of St Malo and Roscoff. It is about a 4 hour drive from the ports.

Population

In 2003, the region ranked 15th out of 26 in population. In area it ranked 12th in size. Total population about 1.7 million. Most of the population are located in the major towns: Angoulême, Bressuire, Châtellerault, Cognac, La Rochelle, Niort, Poitiers, Rochefort,Royan, Saintes.

Prices

(August 2006)

Prices are expensive on the coast particularly in the major resorts such as La Rochelle and Royan. Inland Saintes and Cognac are somewhat cheaper. The rural areas on the East border (Vienne and Deux-Sevres) are much cheaper – and there are still bargains available!

Price Guideline
Apartments: 100,000 euros (Coast)
Farmhouses: 60,000 euros (needs renovation) – Vienne
Townhouses: 70,000 euros
Villas: 300,000 euros
Land: from 15 euros per sq. m

Poitou - Charentes Property Selection

Listed below are the departments in the region of Poitou - Charentes; the number of properties in each department are denoted in brackets - click on a department to see the properties available.

All the properties in Poitou - Charentes by department.
(Number in brackets = number of properties)

Charente Property (1020)
Charente Maritime Property (394)
Deux Sèvres Property (518)
Vienne Property (635)