Angoulême is a stunning city located in the Charente department of the Poitou Charentes region. We explore 6 good reasons why this town and its surrounding villages are excellent places to choose for your property purchase.
The minute you set foot in Angoulême, you are blown away by its beauty, elegance and vibrancy.
Lying about 130 kilometres northeast of Bordeaux, Angoulême is justifiably classified among 125 official “French Towns of Art and History”. To be on this impressive list, a town needs to show it has preserved its architecture and ancient heritage. Indeed, this is just about the first thing one notices on arrival in Angoulême: how beautifully its history has been preserved.
It is set high up on a rocky ledge overlooking the River Charente. Around it are wide boulevards majestically standing above the ramparts, which originally protected the town from invaders.
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1. A beautiful town
The town is effortlessly beautiful. Somehow reminiscent of Bath in the UK, it stands high and proud over the river and valley below. It almost feels as though it has not changed a bit since medieval times, such is the careful way it has been kept over hundreds of years. A walk around the town will reveal plenty of very interesting buildings and monuments: ornate churches, chapels, imposing houses, chateaux and museums.
You will come across plenty of interesting buildings, such as churches and chapels and several grand townhouses. There are also a good number of shops and cafes in the open squares and the pedestrianised streets. A good idea is to start on foot along the ramparts which line the city. You will soon discover the Cathedral of St. Pierre, which dates back 900 years with various alterations throughout history. Its façade is quite splendid with numerous fine carvings showing the story of the Ascension.
Don’t miss the town hall and the old Hotel Saint Simon, a townhouse built in the 16th century with an extraordinarily ornate façade.
2. Charming shops, restaurants and cafes
As with many important towns in France, Angoulême is blessed with many good individual family-owned shops, fine restaurants and cafes in its centre and along its pedestrianised streets. After a good history lesson on your walk, this is the perfect place to wind down with a drink and watch the world go by. Angoulême is a city designed for walking and taking it easy!
3. A temperate climate
The climate here is seasonal with warm summer months (but not sweltering like the south of France!), mild winters and its fair share of rain, making it an ideal spot for gardening and the vines. The region has some fine, perhaps lesser-known wines. The Charente generally is fairly sheltered from fierce winds and does not have as extreme temperatures as in some parts of the country. Thus, in many ways, the climate in this part of France may be as close to the ideal as one could get.
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4. Dynamic culture
Angoulême is a dynamic city with a huge amount going on in terms of general entertainment. There is the Angoulême International Comics Festival, as well as the Francophone Film Festival held here each year. It also plays host to over 40 video game and animation studios and is well known for its paper industry dating back to the 16th century.
There is a motor racing event held each September too with cars racing around the “circuit des remparts” as well as a huge gathering of pre-war Bugatti racing cars. In short, with its fascinating history and culture, there is something for everyone here!
5. Easy access from the UK
Angoulême is reachable from various airports serving the UK. It is about 50 miles from Limoges airport, 60 miles from Bergerac airport and 70 miles from Bordeaux airport. La Rochelle (well worth a visit on its own) is a little over 70 miles away.
By train, you can take the Eurostar from London St. Pancras to Paris and then a direct train down to Angoulême, which takes about 6 hours.
By car, the nicest route is to take the ferry across to Calais and then drive down the west side via Rouen, Caen, Rennes, Nantes and La Rochelle.
6. A large choice of properties at reasonable prices
Angoulême and the surrounding area are home to many different styles of property ranging from majestic turreted chateaux to old stone family homes to farmhouses and modern bungalows. If you have deep pockets, you can easily find a grand home with outbuildings for around the €1 million mark.
However, there are plenty of super properties for far less than this, if not in the town, then just outside it. A large 4-bed farmhouse with a swimming pool and gardens, for example, will cost around €400,000 or a smaller renovated old house around €300,000. For a smaller budget of around €100,000 to €150,000, it is still perfectly possible to pick up a decent character property with a garden. The choice is yours!
Any property purchase here is likely to prove to be a solid investment.
Angoulême is a popular city with the French due to its history and culture. It has become more popular with other Europeans looking for a holiday home here in recent years. Any property purchase here is likely to prove to be a solid investment.
This town somehow manages to combine the sophistication of a lovely city with the beauty of the countryside around it. It is well worth looking at if you have the dream of owning your own piece of France.
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