The only part of the Poitou Charente region to enjoy a coastline, the Charente Martime benefits from the resulting mild winters. This micro-climate (officially sub-mediterranean!) means that olives, mimosa, palms and oleander flourish
, and those buying a property here will appreciate the effect, too! The coastal landscape varies widely, from open grassy plains where the local cattle graze to wild salt marshes and tall limestone cliffs.
This is where the mighty Gironde river makes its way into the Atlantic and the mouth of the river is dotted with charming little ports and harbours which retain a truly French feel. This is a popular place with the french looking to buy a second home.
Local produce including the aperitif Pineau (a blend of cognac and grape juice) is a must-try along with the locally produced caviar. Worth a look are Mortagne-sur-Gironde, Saintes for its Roman architecture and Royan - a lovely, busy harbour town with a great zoo neaby at La Palmyre.
Charente Maritime fact file
Land area: 6864 square kilometres
Population: 622 323
Population density: 91/km²
Main town: La Rochelle
Local property styles
You'll find long, low Charentaise farmhouses for sale and two or three storey village houses all built of the local white stone with shallow-pitched roman tiled roofs. Those wishing to buy a larger property in France will find logis and chateaux.