Ready to make the move? The FrenchEntrée Property team reveals its top search areas – on and off the beaten track.
You'll find Sauzé-Vaussais (Sauzé to locals) out west, in Nouvelle-Aquitaine's lush Deux-Sèvres département. Close to the Marais Poitevin marshes – nicknamed the 'Green Venice' for their skin of luminous, floating duckweed – this is a tranquil area known for its attractive countryside. If you're seeking a peaceful place to retire, or somewhere rural to run a thriving gîte business, Sauzé is a shoo-in. Properties here are typically Charentaise-style – think rectangular, stone bastides, often no taller than two storeys. They're also remarkably good value, thanks in part to the area still being relatively undiscovered by foreigners.
If your budget falls somewhere between the €150,000 and €200,000 bracket, it's perfectly reasonable to expect a four-bedroom stone house with some extras, whether it's a guest annexe or other outbuildings – rich pickings for gîte businesses. There are also normally plenty of renovation projects for buyers with ambitious DIY dreams.
Of course, opting for a quieter corner of La Belle France doesn't mean resting on your laurels. Small it may be, but Sauzé has numerous things to see and do, from fascinating heritage sites – including an ancient pigeonnier, bell tower and Roman church – to a large market selling local produce every Thursday. There's also the ubiquitous smattering of cafés, bars and bakeries. And if, in between all that regional fare, you crave something a little closer to home, head to 71 Grand Rue to indulge in full English breakfasts, tea and scones, courtesy of David and Debbie at the Lemon Tree Café.
As well as culture and cuisine, this part of France offers nature-based activities in spades. Sauzé's lake, known as the Plan d'Eau, is a popular spot for fishing and you'll also find tennis, horse riding, pétanque, cycle hire and mini-golf in or around the village. For any little ones in the picture, family-friendly attractions Futuroscope and Monkey Valley are just a short drive away (around 50 minutes and half an hour, respectively). If that wasn't enough to sway you, Sauzé boasts excellent transport links. Poitiers and La Rochelle airports are less than one hour away and TGV trains stop in nearby Niort, so you're never too hemmed in.
With thanks to our partner agencies in Sauzé-Vaussais.