Departmental capital: Angers
Main cities/towns: Cholet, Saumur, Segré-en-Anjou Bleu
Maine-et-Loire is on the main route heading south from the ports of Normandy and Brittany and, with no fewer than three autoroutes, many visitors coming from the UK drive through it.
It is a rich, green, agricultural department, with several large rivers, including the Loire, Mayenne and Sarthe.
Nantes is the nearest airport
Angers, Cholet and Saumur are all pleasant, prosperous medium-sized towns.
Many French people still associate the latter with horses – in the past, it was the main training centre for cavalry regiments.
In terms of transport links, Angers has a TGV station with services to Paris. There are also regional rail links to Saumur and Cholet. Nantes is the nearest airport.
Not surprisingly, tourism has become one of the region’s main industries, with good cycle routes adding to its attraction.
Townhouses tend to be on the expensive side. For example, a large 1930s modernised terrace house in Angers with 127m² of living space and a small 200m² garden was on the market for €449,000 at the time of writing.
Out in the countryside, things are a little different, but really low prices are still hard to find.
The cheapest price was for a barn and stable in the commune of Le Fief-Sauvin, which has the Evre river running through it and is situated to the west of the department.
The property is built out of characterful stone but with everything to do. It was advertised at just under €19,000 and comes with 436m² of land.
Many property search engines include Maine-et-Loire with the Ile-de-France region, even though it is officially part of the Pays de la Loire.