French property watch: Poitou-Charentes
DEPARTMENTS: Charente, Charente-Maritime, Deux-Sèvres, Vienne MAIN CITIES: Poitiers, La Rochelle, Niort, Angoulême, Châtellerault, Saintes, Rochefort, Royan
There is something very South Downs-y about the old Poitou-Charentes region of France – which became part of the Nouvelle-Aquitaine super-region when the map of France was redrawn in 2015.
The region is largely rural, dotted with pretty honey-stoned hamlets, villages and small towns that seem to glow in the warm sun under cornflower blue skies that stretch to forever and back.
Even the historic regional capital Poitiers has fewer than 90,000 inhabitants, while coastal La Rochelle – in Charente-Maritime – has 75,000 residents and Niort, capital of Deux-Sèvres, is home to about 60,000 people.
The region enjoys a mild climate, basking in plenty of sunshine – second only to the Mediterranean – from its low-lying coastal areas all the way to the gentle rolling hills further inland as the land breaks into the first foothills of the Massif Central.
In the north of the area, Deux-Sèvres and Vienne make up the historic Poitou region, centred on the ancient city of Poitiers; the southern part of the area – where vineyards provide the grapes used to produce cognac – comprises the low-lying departments of Charente and Charente-Maritime.
It is no wonder, then, that this area of western France is popular with Anglophones looking for a slice of French life.
While they are not on a par with PACA or Paris, property prices in this region reflect its popularity. In historic Poitiers, house prices can reach €1,750m², with those in Niort peaking slightly lower at around €1,690m², according to the latest figures from Notaires de France.
Coastal La Rochelle, meanwhile, benefits from the French seaside bump to average more than €3,000m² and can soar past €3,760m².