No-one knows the area like a local estate agent. We asked Jacqui Reddin, of Beaux Villages Immobilier, for the inside track on Charente-Maritime
What’s the cheapest property you have on your books right now?
We have a charming two-bedroom riverside cottage which was formerly a mill, with beams and a lovely stone fireplace, for €88,000. It requires some updating but is immediately habitable and is just five minutes from the busy spa town of Jonzac and only 15 minutes from the coast.
What’s the most unusual property you have sold in the past?
A 15th-century château with 15 bedrooms, 18 outbuildings including a chapel on the Charente River, just 15 minutes drive from the coast. A real piece of French history!
What’s the most unusual request you’ve had from a client?
“No neighbours” – as they wanted to do nude dancing courses!
How much would you expect to pay for:
1. a detached property with land in good condition?
It all depends on the location – near the coast with views anything from €360,000 upwards.
2. a three-bedroom townhouse?
In Jonzac a nice tidy townhouse could cost about €120,000 but a more formal maison de maître style townhouse would be €250,000
3. a renovation opportunity?
I have a fabulous 16th-century priory in its original state which is only €180,000 with original wall paintings and a huge plot of land.
Is there a typical architecture or style in Charente-Maritime?
Not really. Around the magnificent château of Jonzac you do find rather beautiful formal maisons bourgeoises and maisons de maître, but around the edge of the town there is a bit of everything. In the countryside there are lots of typical Charentaise stone farmhouses with their deep sloping terracotta roofs.
Why do British people buy houses in Charente-Maritime?
Mainly because of its proximity to the coast, without actually being too close to a huge tourist area.
What advice would you give to somebody who is thinking of buying in your area?
Come over and experience it. Talk to people who live here. Ask lots of questions – there is no such thing as a stupid question! Find an agent who you get on with and who listens. Be honest if you don’t like a property – it all helps to work out what you DO like.
What tips would you give to help people settle into life in the area?
Don’t be in a hurry! Just take the time to get to know the area and the people. If you can, take up a hobby – talking to French people about a common passion bridges all language differences.
What are your predictions for the property market in Charente-Maritime?
I don’t have a crystal ball, but I do think that living surrounded by beautiful sunflower fields and vineyards, just a few kilometres from golden sandy beaches will always appeal, so I don’t think this area will ever be unpopular. Prices have dropped over the last few years, which means there are some amazing bargains still to be had.
Is Charente-Maritime easy to reach?
Very! The A10 motorway links Paris and Bordeaux, the Eurostar/TGV comes into Angoulême is a 30-minute drive away, and La Rochelle and Bordeaux airports are nearby.
What are the regional specialities?
Oysters of course! A mussel dish called mouclade charentaise and all types of fresh fish. Then of course we have Pineau des Charentes, which was made by mistake hundreds of years ago and is now drunk everywhere as a chilled aperitif.
Describe your department/town/region in five words?
Sunny, light, smiling, green and delicious.