If you’re wondering where to buy a property in the Nouvelle Aquitaine region, you should consider Vienne. A rural department and perhaps lesser-known than its neighbours, it is easy to get to from the UK and packed with numerous places to visit for all ages and budgets. We explore the delights of this department.
Vienne is a beautiful department situated in the north of the Poitou-Charentes region, part of the very popular Nouvelle Aquitaine. In the heart of rural France, it is a wonderful place to explore if you like history, culture, the outdoors and getting to know the “real” France.
It is, however, also very popular for its “Futuroscope” theme park located just outside Poitiers, apparently one of the most visited theme parks in the country! You could say there is something for everyone here. There are numerous pretty towns and villages to discover plus a variety of different types of property available at reasonable prices.
There are some charming villages here, a little further south from the main town and prefecture of Poitiers. Take a look at Lusignan, Ligugé and Vivonne, one of my favourites, which boasts a lovely 13th-century church. There is also a very interesting Roman site in Sanxay, a medieval village, which also has a French National Monument where you can visit the ruins of a Roman theatre.
The village of Montmorillon is well known for its old book shops – ideal to explore on a sunny summer’s day!
To the north of Poitiers the town of Chatellerault (population roughly 32,000) is a delightful place to explore. Check out the Church of Saint-Jacques and the stunning 17th-century bridge here. Then there is Loudun with its pretty centre consisting of cobbled streets and a somewhat unusual square tower! Moncontour is a small town with interesting medieval history.
For more fascinating history, visit Ranton and Curcay-sur-Dive, both of which have medieval fortresses.
Central area of Vienne
Again, there are some lovely villages here, all with rich history. Take a look at Nouaille-Maupertuis just south of Poitiers, as well as the very picturesque village of Morthermer, which boasts a church and medieval fortress. Not far from here is the World Heritage Site Saint-Savin Abbey, a beautiful and imposing old building.
La Roche-Posay is known for its spa waters and ancient history with the ruins of an 11th-century dungeon. The village of Angles-sur-l’Anglin has been voted one of the most beautiful villages in France, with historical buildings, a medieval castle and a river running through. It is also a great spot for hiking and exploring the countryside.
Poitiers is the capital of the Vienne department and is a majestic town with some incredible ancient monuments and a lovely central square. Take a seat in one of the square’s cafes and simply watch the world go by.
Amongst the places to visit here, there is St. Peter’s Cathedral dating back to the 100 years’ war. It is a masterpiece of Gothic architecture. The Place du Marechal Leclerc is a lovely wide-open pedestrianised space with the town hall at its centre and plenty of pretty cafes and bars to laze in with a cup of coffee or something stronger!
For those who love nature and the outdoors, take a stroll around Blossac Park which overlooks the river and valley of the Clain. With beautiful gardens, a zoo and tremendous views – a real joy to experience.
Getting to the Vienne from the UK
There are frequent flights all year round from many regional UK airports to either Bergerac, Limoges or Bordeaux to reach this area. By car, it would take approximately 5 hours from the Channel ports: a lovely drive and you can easily avoid Paris by taking the west side down.
The whole region of Nouvelle Aquitaine has a mild temperate climate with warm sultry summers and cold (but not freezing) winters! The seasons are all lovely here and you can pretty much guarantee plenty of sunshine, even in the colder months. Vienne itself has a mostly mild, seasonal climate and is largely protected from the wind.
Property types and prices
There is a huge choice of both types and prices of property in the Vienne. If you have around €1 million to spend, you will be able to buy an imposing chateau with several bedrooms and land! At the other end of the scale, it is perfectly possible to find a “lock up and leave” renovated village house at around the €150,000 mark. For even less than this, and if you are prepared to do some work, there are several properties on the market at real bargain prices from around €75,000.
In between, there is a whole range of types of property, from one level modern houses to traditional ancient village houses to large farmhouses. As there is a great deal of space in this department, it is easy to find a property with a garden, some land and many with outbuildings too.
The Vienne is an excellent choice if you are considering buying a second home in France at reasonable cost and like the rural life. You will need a car – or at the very least a bike – as many houses are situated in small hamlets or villages with few amenities. Having said that, there is always a larger village or town here within pretty easy striking distance.
The beauty of the Vienne lies in its nature: lots of greenery, meadows and gardens to meander in. This is rural France at its best.