Charente Maritime is a French department location in the centre west of France, in the Poitou-Charentes region. This department of about 600,000 inhabitants is surrounded with Gironde, Charente, Deux-Sèvres, Vendée and Dordogne. It includes four isles: île d'Oléron, île de Ré, île-d'Aix and île Madame. Charente-Maritime relief is composed of plains and plateaus, the substratum of which is calcareous. The limestone is then used as a building material for traditional houses. On the coastal side, landscapes are sandy beaches while on the other part, countryside, hills and plains dominate the scenery. Located in the Atlantic coast, Charente Maritime is the second sunniest part of France, after the French Riviera.
Renowned for its beaches, coasts and weather, the Charente Maritime department emphasizes other assets which can be seen throughout its natural sites, cultural heritage and traditions. First, let’s quote some of the natural sites. Marais Poitevin is probably the most famous. It is a water-made land which was transformed by men over several generations. The department is also well-known for its panoply of sites housing migratory birds.
Vitrezay, Maison du Fier, Marais aux Oiseaux, Cabane de Moins and Ferme des Oiseaux are just some examples. The estuary park allows discovering aquatic world and scenery and tells the story of its formation. It is Europe’s largest estuary. But Charente Maritime is also salt culture. The two most renowned sites are île de Ré - with its saltern ecomuseum and salt workers - and île d’Oléron wit its saline harbour.
Finally, we can not deal with this department without quoting its famous Poitou donkey. They have a particular appearance: big ears, white nose, shaggy coat, dark brown or black and tall. These so-called Baudets du Poitou were originally used for breeding with Poitou mares. The baby animal, called a jenny, was used for mountain work. It was then replaced by tractors and was thus endangered species. Fortunately, they were saved by a program agreed by local authorities, Poitou regional park and national studs. Thanks to them, Poitou donkeys roam in the meadows. They are also a touristy attraction in île de Ré, where it is easy to caress them, and even to ride them.
In 2009, the average property price in Charente Maritime is €3,198.24/ sq m. Considering the national average of €3,197/ sq m, we can deduce that prices in the department are quite high. But this figure is mainly influenced by île de Ré which is a place dedicated to well-to-do clientele. Prices there exceed €4,300/ sq m.
Charente Maritime is a rural department where you can find more houses than apartments. However, thanks to île de Ré and île d’Oléron, it represents a good location if you are looking for a buy-to-let. If you can afford to buy in a property there, it should be a profitable investment.
As regards rentals, the average price is €12.82 / sq m a month. Here again, the department appears very expensive since the average rental price in France is €12.22 / sq m. A solution if your budget is low is to look for a property in remote towns of Charente Maritime, where prices are more likely to be under the national average.
To get updated info about the property prices in the Pyrenees Orientales departement, please browse our French Property Market Reports published in the News Section every month.
Gourmet food: Charente Maritime is a paradise for fish and seafood lovers. Located in the Atlantic coast, it became famous thanks to its oysters, rope-grown mussels and fish. The fleur de sel - French sea salt – produced in île de Ré and île d’Oléron are also a flagship produce used in any local dish. Pineau des Charentes, a mix of Cognac and wine, is used to be served for the aperitif, Cognac, the most famous brandy in the world, produced in the town of the same name, is both used to season dishes or as a liqueur, at the end of the meal. The department also makes beekeeping produce such as honey, potatoes and asparagus.
Tourism – Sights: tourism has also been an important economic resource of Charente Maritime, especially thanks to its isles, île de Ré and île d’Oléron. This may be explained partially by the weather, which is very pleasant there. Other touristy attraction in the department also made its name, for example Cognac with its famous brandy. All these assets represent thus a good reason for investing in Charente Maritime. But the department is also an attractive place its scenery: sandy beaches, coasts, plains, marshes and hills.
Climate and weather: this is probably one of the reason of such a touristy location. This is also why the department offers many rental opportunities. Indeed, as exposed previously, Charente Maritime is the France’s second sunniest area. Summer is dry and sunny and winter is mild and rainy. However, temperature in the mainland is usually lower than in the isles.
Architectural style:Charente Maritime is rich in architecture and monuments. The style is mainly Roman which developed during the 11th and 12th centuries. Some examples may be seen in Saintes - Saint-Eutrope church.
Activities: Charente Maritime is a great place for water sports like surfing, windsurfing and water skiing but also for fishing as it is located in the Atlantic coast. Hiking and cycling are also tow activities mainly practised in the department, and especially in the isles where bike is the principal means of transport.
Lifestyle: settling in Charente maritime will give you the impression to be on holiday all year long! Lifestyle is relaxed and people offer a warm welcome both to new residents and tourists. The French art de vivre seduces each year hundreds of people who are attracted by the local quality of life.
Views of the coasts: the department offers amazing diversified landscapes. In the coastal side, you can admire the ocean, beaches and distant monuments such as Fort Boyard. In the mainland, marsh is a tourist attraction where people love going for a walk.
Charente Maritime architecture is composed of flat and lines facades. Windows and doors’ frameworks are often decorated with stones for instance. Walls are made of limestone, a material found in the local substratum. Pigeon houses and wells are also part of the typical Charente Maritime architecture.
Charentaise houses: they have a rectangular and symmetrical shape with one or two floors only. Other features are tile-made roof, painted front facades and shutters and exposed beams inside the house. They often come with a garden and a fireplace. The material used for the building is usually stone: this is why they may be exposed inside. Some of them have also outbuilding and garage.
Maison de Maitre: these massive properties are in general surrounded by a large land. Often located in the countryside, they offer a beautiful view on the plain and meadow. Such bourgeoise houses are old properties holding most of the time outbuildings - cottage -, swimming pool, chimney, attic, detached lodge…
Farmhouses: originally, they were the property of farmers and used for breeding and agriculture. Thus, they have large outbuildings such as barns and stables. They are usually constructed of stones, which may be or not exposed. Fireplace, pigeonnier and courtyard are some of the features. They may be interesting properties to set up a Bed and Breakfast: land can be transformed to offer activities and outbuildings as bedrooms for the guests.
Oléronaise houses: located next to the sea, they are typical properties from Ile d’Oléron. They sole floor, rectangular shape, white painted front façade and green or blue shutters are the main characteristics of these houses. If you are looking to buy a property in Charente maritime, Oléronaise houses will be easily rented to tourists during summer.
Wine warehouses: they used as wine cellar where the wine grew. Today, these small buildings are more and more converted into homes. Some of them are well-renovated but others need some works. Prices of wine warehouses are quite low, especially considering their location - Ile d’Oléron and Ile de Ré, where prices are very high.
Rétaise houses: they may be found in Ile de Ré and constitute a good property to be rented. Walls are almost always painted in white - sometimes, they have exposed stones. Another particularity is its shutters, which are most of the time painted in green. These houses are very charming and typical properties.
Fishermen houses: these properties are located near to the coasts, in particular in Ile d’Oléron and Ile de Ré. Thus facades are often painted in white and shutters in green or blue depending on the location. They have few rooms but often hold outbuildings, courtyard and garden.
Villas: as fishermen houses, villas can be found mainly in Ile d’Oléron and Ile de Ré. Indeed, they are luxury and modern properties, quite expensive. They have all the comfort needed: swimming-pool, garden planted with trees, garage, fireplace and large rooms. Villas are one-storey properties with painted façade and shutters.
Click here for more info about Poitou Charentes Architecture.
|Take a closer look at the Charente Maritime property market:|
|Ile de Re Property Information||Ile d'Oleron Property Information|
|Jonzac Property Information||La Rochelle Property Information|
|Pons Property Information||Saintes Property Information|