Departmental capital: Bourges
Main cities/towns: Saint-Amand-Montrond, Vierzon
The geographical heart of France is a land apart – a historical and astonishing region in a country noted for its history, natural beauty, architecture and food and wine.
This is the ancient territory of Berry, now split between the Cher and neighbouring Indre department.
It takes in the bosky forests of the Sologne, the prosperous agricultural region of Champagne Berrichonne, Sancerre wine vineyards, the valley of Germigny to the south, with its rich, cattle-filled pastures, and the river valleys of the Loire and the Cher.
It is here that a number of villages compete for the title of France’s most central location.
At the centre of the Cher is its capital, Bourges, a perfectly sized town of 65,000 people dominated by the imposing cathedral of St Etienne, the widest Gothic cathedral in France, and known for its acclaimed annual music festival Les Printemps de Bourges.
Transport links in this tourist-loving part of the world are excellent – it is within relatively easy reach of Paris and Poitiers, Dijon and Clermont-Ferrand, while maintaining its very own individual identity. Yet it is far enough from the capital to escape that Paris property bounce - meaning you get plenty of property bang for your buck.
It means you can still get a decent-sized family home in Bourges with an average price of €1,620/m². In doubly hyphenated Saint-Amand-Montrond, you can find bargains – €978/m² will get you more house than would be the case in many areas of the UK – and, as usual, you’ll make even more savings if you are willing to do some renovation work.
Property watch: winning location of Charente-Maritime