Charles Miller of Charente Immobilier looks at the property market in Poitou-Charentes and shares some inside secrets
What part of France do you cover?
We are based in Jarnac, which is situated on the right bank of the River Charente between Angoulême and Cognac. From here we cover the Charente and the Charente-Maritime departments, and we are currently expanding our base to cover parts of Vienne and Deux-Sèvres as well.
What kind of budget does your typical British client have?
Typically, they have around €250,000 to spend on a property.
What kind of properties are proving popular with your British buyers at the moment and for what purpose are they looking to buy?
British clients tend to be buying older traditional properties that have been well renovated and require little, if any, work. We seem to be seeing people who are buying properties several years ahead of retirement, with a view to using them as holiday homes or sources of income for the short term and then for use as a retirement home later on.
How is the French property market looking to you at the moment?
We have seen a marked improvement compared to this time last year. The comparative up-turn has not lead to rising prices and the region remains excellent value for money.
What are your predictions for the market over the next six months?
I think that in our region activity will continue and that there will be a steady improvement. I don’t expect there to be any dramatic changes in the near future.
What are the cheapest and most expensive properties on your books right now?
We currently have a little village house requiring renovation for €30,000 and at the higher end we have a beautiful medieval château for €1,575,000.
Which of your properties do you think is an example of particularly good value for money, and why?
We currently have a very pretty two-bedroom cottage for sale in Beauvais-sur-Matha. It has already been renovated and also comes with a second property for renovation and a good-sized garden. Within walking distance of the town centre with its shops, bar and market, all of this is priced at just €104,976.
What is your property pick of the month?
There is a charming former miller’s cottage in an outstanding location which I particularly like. Built over three floors with a terrace and a balcony, this three-bedroom property enjoys stunning views over the river, lock and the park. With exposed wooden beams and an open fireplace it is on the market for €235,400.
What is your favourite part of the area you cover and why?
It would have to be the Grande Champagne. It covers the vineyards to the south of Jarnac and Cognac and is really one of the most beautiful parts of the region: rolling vineyards as far as the eye can see, big open skies, pretty hamlets and hilltop towns with fine stone houses and the odd château here and there.
What would you recommend as a must-do?
In this area you really have to visit one or more of the well-known (or lesser known) cognac houses – Courvoisier, Hennessy, Martell and so on. Cognac really is the life-blood of the area and the producers provide fascinating tours of their distilleries and their estates.
Do you have an inside secret that people might not know?
If you are interested in the local spirit, why not time your trip to coincide with Grand Marnier’s open day in Bourg-Charente? It takes place over one weekend every two years, so blink and you’ll miss it (there is very little publicity), but it is one of the most interesting tours and you get to taste hors d’oeuvres (laced with Grand Marnier) prepared by the company’s chef who comes down from Paris for the event.