Charente Maritime Property
When buying property in France, few places offer a wider choice amid such breathtakingly diverse scenery as Charente-Maritime property for sale. From picturesque seaside villages to historic riverside towns, and from traditional chalets in the heart of majestic forests to grand chateaux surrounded by vineyards, a spectacular Charente-Maritime property can be found to suit every taste and requirement.
Charente-Maritime is known for its sunny climate where rain is infrequent and winters are remarkably mild. The magnificent weather and unspoilt scenery draw tourists from all over Europe and beyond, making Charente-Maritime property for sale an excellent investment, whether as a rental opportunity or a second home.
The department of Charente-Maritime lies on the west coast of France, boasting a vast and largely unspoilt coastline and several sun-drenched islands where Charente-Maritime property for sale can also be found. For millennia the history of the area has been inextricably linked to the sea, not just for fishing and the other seafood for which the department is famous around the world, but also for trade and exploration. This proud nautical tradition can be seen in the modern name of the department, alongside the name of the major river that flows gracefully through the area, the Charente. With its tributaries, estuaries and salt marshes, coupled with the extensive coastline, Charente Maritime property for sale often has outstanding views across tranquil waterways, and often within picturesque towns and villages nationally recognised for their beauty.
With the extensive coast of Charente-Maritime facing out into the Atlantic Ocean, there are many spectacular landmarks that dot the shoreline, from historic fortresses to imposing lighthouses that rise majestically from the rocks. These exist alongside the traditional marine practises long used by the people of the area, such as the carrelets (fishing huts on stilts), ‘fish locks’, and the famous oyster and mussel farms. The area’s seafood is still sold in an array of traditional markets and harbourside restaurants, and alongside the local production of cognac, dining out is always a pleasure in Charente-Maritime, whether al fresco, overlooking a moonlit harbour, or in a traditional bistro surrounded by vineyards. Today, the sleepy harbours where Charente-Maritime property for sale can be found leave room for pleasure craft of all shapes and sizes, and excursions by boat are a popular pastime for locals and tourists alike.
Of course, the calm seas were historically not just a source of fresh seafood, but also a link to the rest of Europe and the world, and trade has been an important part of life in Charente-Maritime since prehistory. Since man first learned how to sail the seas, explorers have set off from the Charente-Maritime coast to search for new lands and peoples with which to trade, and the area boasts several famous explorers, including Samuel de Champlain, the founder of Quebec. Many fascinating museums can be found in the area documenting all aspects of Charente-Maritime’s history, including the life and work of its most famous explorers and the Paleosite in Saint Cesaire with its interactive prehistory centre, famous for the discovery of a young Neanderthal girl, found in 1979 on the site.
Just off the coast, the department’s four islands offer a wide range of Charente Maritime property for sale. Arguably the most famous, Ile de Re, with its uniform whitewashed buildings and traditional harbours, offers a chance to get away from it all amid beautiful scenery and sleepy villages, while still maintaining good links to the mainland. In contrast, nearby Ile d’Aix is only accessible by boat, providing a true haven for nature lovers amid the untamed countryside, and possesses a rare peace that is maintained by a ban on motor vehicles. L’Ile d’Oleron is gifted not only with long sandy beaches, which draw watersport enthusiasts to the extensive facilities, but also magnificent oak and pine forests, which offer a beautiful setting for rest and relaxation. Finally L’Ile Madame is the least well known of the four islands and is accessible only at low tide via the quaintly named ‘cow pass’. Almost untouched, this small island near the Charente estuary has long been a centre for fishing, and boasts many of the traditional carrelets.
Charente-Maritime Property For Sale
Charente-Maritime property for sale is, of course, not simply limited to coastal locations, and often bargains can be found inland. The natural environment of Charente-Maritime is both varied and beautiful, and Charente-Maritime property for sale often has spectacular views over open countryside, such as the exceptional salt marshes that draw large numbers of birds, or across fields of sunflowers, vineyards or picturesque rivers and waterways.
Charente-Maritime property for sale can also be found near the spectacular forests that spread out across the department. There are 14 areas of ‘Pôles Nature’ in the department, each a designated area of outstanding natural beauty and centre of conservation. Most notable among these is the Poitevin Marsh, situated alongside the Sevre Niortaise, and containing the spectacular canals of Venice Verte (Green Venice).
For those that prefer to buy Charente-Maritime property within a bustling town, Charente-Maritime has many beautiful and vibrant towns from which to choose. One of the principle towns in the department is Rochefort, world-renowned for its shipbuilding heritage, which effortlessly combines the modern with the historic. Nearby, also situated on the banks of the Charente River, is Saintes, a town that maintains a breathtaking array of its original Roman architecture. Both of these towns are part of the ‘Villes et Pays d’art et d’histoire’ (towns and regions of art and history) network. This important French initiative both recognises and maintains heritage sites nationwide, imposing strict guidelines on city development to ensure the historical integrity of the locations is maintained. This emphasis on the historic allows these towns to combine a wealth of modern facilities while not detracting from the atmosphere and beauty of the historic areas of the town. Also within the department is famous La Rochelle. This vibrant waterside location is a centre for entertainment and facilities, yet is nestled within medieval walls and guarded by the famous 14th century ‘La Rochelle Towers’. Other popular towns with Charente-Maritime property for sale include Royan and Surgeres.
In the cities and towns with Charente-Maritime property for sale, there are all the facilities expected from a modern French town, including casinos, cinemas and restaurants. There are also many sports and leisure centres, and even relaxing spas based around natural underground springs, long thought to contain curative properties.
Away from the major towns, the department also offers a wide variety of Charente-Maritime property for sale situated in beautiful villages and amid spectacular scenery. The coastline is dotted with picturesque harbours, and Charente-Maritime boasts ten villages classed among the ‘Plus beaux villages de France’ (the most beautiful villages) such as Saint-Sornin, a medieval village in the Marennes basin, and Brouage, a ‘Grand Site National’. The ‘Grand Site’ is a national award by the environment ministry, rewarding restoration and the emphasis of important cultural areas. Some of these ‘beautiful villages’ can be found on the department’s two largest islands, Ile de Re and Ile d’Oleron. Saint-Georges d’Oleron, with its Romanesque church, 11th century priory and medieval market halls, is a perfect location to buy Charente-Maritime property for sale, and nearby Boyardville is famous for its rich maritime history. Other notable communes with Charente-Maritime property for sale are Mornac-sur-Seudre, a harbour town on the Seudre estuary characterised by winding, narrow streets and known for its breathtaking church, and Fouras, famed for its spectacular old dungeon surrounded by triple ramparts and large number of ‘Belle Epoque’ villas.
Of course, with such an extensive coastline, Charente-Maritime property for sale always has a wealth of marine and aquatic activities on the doorstep, from river cruises to fishing, whether in the tranquil streams and rivers, or sea fishing around the four beautiful islands just off the coast of the department. The beaches in the area are soft and sandy, and most are fully supervised by trained lifeguards and possess beach clubs for children.
Inland, hiking, mountain biking or horse riding through the spectacular, unspoilt countryside are popular ways to pass a sunny afternoon, or, for a birds-eye view of the natural beauty, there are many opportunities to see the varied landscapes from a hot air balloon or aeroplane.
Charente-Maritime possesses three full sized 18-hole golf courses, all of which boast excellent facilities and restaurants. Each of the courses has something different to offer and something to please all abilities and tastes. The courses are all set amid magnificent countryside, with views over the ocean and forested sections. The department also boasts many shorter courses, and keen golfers are sure to find an excellent course nearby any Charente-Maritime property for sale.
Charente-Maritime has a wide variety of cultural places to visit, including botanical gardens, which are perfect place in which to relax on a hot summer’s day. For animal lovers, La Rochelle boasts one of the largest aquariums in Europe, and the Palmure zoo is the largest in France, conserving a wide variety of animal species from around the world.
The department has good links to the UK and the rest of Europe, with the TGV at Surgeres and La Rochelle, and good road links on fast French motorways from Paris.