Property watch: Discover the sun, sea and culture of Charente-Maritime

The western department is popular among Britons looking for a spot of fresh air and sea views

Clockwise: Views of La Rochelle, Jonzac, Rochefort, Saint-Jean-d’Angély

Departmental capital: La Rochelle

Main cities/towns: Jonzac, Rochefort, Saintes, Saint-Jean-d’Angély

If you love sun, sea and open countryside under the widest skies France has to offer, then look no further than Charente-Maritime, which hugs the Atlantic coast at the northern end of the Nouvelle Aquitaine region.

As well as a fabulous climate, Charente-Maritime boasts a wealth of culture and history and attracts many people due to the popular islands and beaches, as well as its numerous nature reserves.

Although it was one of the original 83 departments created during the Revolution, you’ll find no mention of Charente-Maritime until September 1941. Until then, it was known as Charente-Inférieure. The departmental capital was Saintes, until Napoleon moved it to the coastal fortress of La Rochelle.

The south west is hugely popular with Britons who have decided the French lifestyle is for them – so you should find it reasonably easy to settle down here.

As for the practicalities, the roads are excellent, La Rochelle is on the TGV network, meaning Paris is just three hours away, and an airport offers international flights to London, Dublin, Bristol and Manchester, among other destinations.

Unsurprisingly, all this location-perfection-location bumps up prices. The average price of typical houses in La Rochelle is around €3,908 per m² – though, as always, bargains can be found – but in former capital Saintes you could get your hands on your French dream for a good bit less than €1,800 per m² if you are prepared to look around. Prices are a little bit higher in the under-rated Rochefort, €2,214 per m².

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