Departmental capital: Angoulême
Main cities/towns: Cognac, Soyaux, Jarnac, Confolens, La Couronne
With its gentle rolling hills, forests and quiet, picturesque villages, bustling market towns, farms and big sky, there is something very South Downs-y about the Charente, which sits at the northern end of Nouvelle Aquitaine and – for the more traditional – the south-eastern part of the old Poitou-Charentes region.
This is not a big-city part of the world, which means you tend to get a lot for your money and it is easy to picture yourself in this honey-stoned part of the world enjoying a glass of wine on your own terrace as the sun goes down on another busy day of relaxing in a part of France that generally moves at a more leisurely pace.
This neck of the French woods is popular with Britons – in 2016, it had the third highest population of Brits in France, behind Paris and neighbouring Dordogne.
There can be little wonder why it is so popular. It is easy to get to and from, with airports at La Rochelle, Bordeaux and Brive all within reasonable travelling distance, and Paris less than three hours by train. The department is also served by good motorways and it is about seven hours’ drive from the port of Calais. And it’s very pleasant to live in.
Nor is it overly pricey. You could expect to pay in the region of €1,644 per m² for a house around Angoulême – though, as always, there are bargains to be had if you are prepared to look around and accept to undertake some renovation work. Relatively similar property prices are to be found in and around Cognac (€1,568 per m²) and in average €1,545 per m² in Soyaux.