Poitou Charentes Property Insight
Poitou Charentes is a French region which is made up of 4 departments, namely Deux-Sèvres, Vienne, Charente and Charente-Maritime. These areas had not been linked closely in the past though. The region roughly occupies the central-western part of France and thus benefits from a very pleasant climate. Poitiers is the prefecture of the region.
Historically, the former Poitou province was made up of Vendée (now part of Pays de Loire), Deux Sevres and Vienne. They were split during the French revolution around 1790 and combined with the two Charentes. The region is renowned in Canada as most original inhabitants of Quebec, who settled there around 1630, were from Poitou.
The climate in Poitou Charentes is similar to that of Aquitaine. The area is in fact the second sunniest region of France but has milder summers than in the South Gascony, Landes). Transport links are very good for a region with so few inhabitants. Poitou Charentes is both a touristy region and the gateway to more southern places such as Aquitaine. The dense network of motorways along with good train and airport links are a great asset.
The Picto-Charentaise economy is more and more oriented towards tourism as industries suffer from successive crises. The Deux-Sevres, with a dozen of insurance companies having their headquarters in Niort, account for many third sector jobs. Agriculture is also a major economic strength, with wines (Cognac, Pineau) and cereals being produced. Animals are reared such as cows (Parthenaise beef) and goats in order to make cheese and the famous butter from Echiré, used in the most renowned restaurants in the world. Oyster farming is a big success as the Marennes-Oleron oysters for instance, renowned as being the best in France.
When it comes to property, all these assets mean that the region is still an up and coming area for foreigners. Some parts as the Charente and Charente Maritime are overcrowded with British whereas large areas of Deux Sevres and Vienne have been spoilt only recently.
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Poitou Charentes Immobilier & Property Market Trends
In spite of a growing demand, property prices in Poitou Charentes in 2009 are quite moderate depending on the type of property you are looking for. The average price for a French property is €3,200 / square metre. Below is a table which will help you to compare property prices in the region.
House Prices in Poitou Charentes - 2009
Notice the huge difference in prices between Charente Maritime and other departments in the region. This can be explained by the strong attractions of towns along the coast such as La Rochelle or the Ré island. Brits also have settled massively, which pushes property prices upwards. The region resists really well the credit crunch and prices continue to increase slightly this year. Smart choices consist in taking your time to buy –if you can – or to but in less sought-after areas –but as charming - such as the Deux Sevres.
Apartment Prices in Poitou Charentes - 2009
Once again, apartment prices in the region are upheld by the Charente Maritime department. It is quite a clever choice to buy in the hinterland as property prices quickly plummet. What is really costly is to buy directly in coastal towns such as La Rochelle or in the Ile de Ré
5 Reasons to Buy a Property in Poitou Charentes
When thinking of the Poitou Charentes, any holidaymaker would quote the Cognac liqueur or the beautiful coast of the Charente Maritime. But there is more to Poitou Charentes than just these assets. Indeed, the region is an interesting mix of cultural and natural assets which are most often little-known.
- Natural assets: each year, many visitors gather on the coasts. The assets of this area are its 400km of sandy beaches and wonderful islands such as Oleron, Aix or Re. However, the inland also has lots on offer such as the Marais Poitevin, a heaven for migrating birds, and the little-known vineyards of Charente and Charente Maritime. Famous zoos such as Palmyre or Chizé or natural reserves with snakes or monkeys draw many holidaymakers. The Futuroscope entertainment park has also been a huge success in recent years. A large number of goats are reared in the French region, which also has its own, very ancient breed of donkeys: the Baudets du Poitou. All this means that renting property in the area or running a guest house is very easy.
- Cultural treasures: Poitou Charentes is a region which a quite peculiar historical legacy, with many monuments still being in a very good condition. Poitiers is the ideal example of the alliance of historical legacy and modernity. La Rochelle is a town of the same sort, with its stunning town centre and quite young, dynamic population. Saintes is also a very interesting place culturally with eye-catching monuments galore. Museums are not so numerous in Poitou Charentes but are of high quality such as those of Poitiers, La Rochelle or Angoulême (national museum of comics, arts museum, etc). The museum of Bougon, in the Deux Sevres, is also a must, with millenary neolithic monuments which can be discovered.
- Good food: the Poitou Charentes region is home to a astounding number of traditional dishes. Oysters from Marennes-Oléron, Moules de Bouchots mussels, Cognac and Pineau des Charentes liqueurs are national and international successes. The Echire butter is renowned and used in most luxury restaurants in the world.
Other local treasures are the snails, local beans called Mojhettes or goats cheeses. The Charentes are also home to pleasant wines which are successful in spite of the – heavyweight – neighbouring Bordeaux wines.
Angelica: this plant grown locally is used to produce liqueurs, sweets, ice creams and medecines. This plant is little-known, even amongst the locals. Beef is also produced such as the Lamb from Poitou Charentes and Parthenaise cow, produced with very high taste and hygiene standards. And this is just an overview of the local food delights!
- Transport links: by boat, reach the region thanks to Britanny Ferries, Condor Ferries, Hoverspeed-Fast, Norfolkline, P&O ferries, Sea-France, Speedferries and Transmanche Ferries which have regular links with French Channel Ports. From there you will get to the region in 4 to 6 hours thanks to very-well maintained motorways. Motorways connect the region with Paris in 4 hours, Bordeaux, Nantes and Tours in a couple of hours. Main (toll-free) roads are also available. TGV high-speed trains to Paris get there in 2h15 on average (2h50 from La Rochelle). Eurostar trains are available obviously (journey around 3hrs).
- Rental Opportunities: the French region is ideal as many areas are still unspoilt. Forget the overcrowded Charente and Charente Maritime and head towards Deux Sevres, Vienne or the hinterland of the Charentes. You will benefit from very good prices and drive a bargain while buying a house - to renovate or not. These areas are ideal in terms of rental opportunities as many cheap properties can still be bought and then rented. If you are willing to flee the gloom of the UK without emptying your bank account or doing compromises on the quality of life, welcome to Poitou Charentes.
Property Styles and Architecture in Poitou Charentes
- Maisons charentaises: Charentaise houses are the very traditional Poitou Charentes properties. Fitted with a cellar and coming with a garden in most cases,
Charentaise houses generally come with a cellar and a piece of land. These quite massive properties recall maisons de maitre through their massive aspect and symmetrical layout. They are quite numerous in Charente and Charente Maritime obviously, but also in the south of Deux Sevres and Vienne.
- Colombage houses: many half-timbered properties can be seen in the region, especially I towns such as Niort, Cognac or Parthenay. They are generally well-maintained and make use of bricks between wood frames, which is inspired from nothern styles such as in Normandy. Gorgeous. Why not visit our architecture pages by clicking below?
- Stone farmhouses: stone properties are numerous in the region as it has been a mainly agricultural area until recent times. This means that farmers often built their properties themselves in ancient times. Many of them recall longeres, with a lengthwise shape and different rooms in the house serving different purposes, namely residential or professional. At that time, one could work an live in the same place which often defines the layout of the property. Roofs are gently sloping. A symmetrical layout for windows and doors is often retained. These houses rarely have a closed courtyard and the back of the house was generally a warehouse for straw, machines etc.
Click here for more info about the Architecture in Poitou Charentes
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