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A typical Charantaise market town

The small town of Barbezieux Saint Hilaire is a typical Charantaise market town. It is attractive and peaceful, with old streets and ancient houses, and lovers of this region of France will find the town a great base for further exploration. And although the principal town of the area is Angoulême, Barbezieux Saint Hilaire offers such a good range of shops and facilities such as bars and restaurants, that you are unlikely to need to travel to Angoulême too often!

Three markets a week!

The three weekly markets hosted by Barbezieux Saint Hilaire are a delight for everyone who enjoys the typically French pastime of trawling the market stalls for the very best of local produce. The market is an essential of the French way of life, and with more than the usual quota of markets, residents of Barbezieux Saint Hilaire are spoiled for choice!

Barbezieux Saint Hilaire's Fair of Fat

One special market is held once a year in December. This is known as 'A Fair of Fat', and it is a celebration of the French delicacy of Foie Gras. Foie Gras is a rich creamy dish of duck or goose liver, produced through the controversial technique of force feeding. Local producers are at pains to explain that the birds are not cruelly treated, and are very proud of their product. A peculiarity of this region's Foie Gras is that the grain is soaked in the local alcoholic drink of pineau before it is fed to the birds!

A walker's paradise

The countryside around Barbezieux Saint Hilaire is an absolute paradise for walkers, with its rolling fields and hills and pretty little villages. Life here is gentle and sweet, and this is reflected in the countryside itself. Most leisure activities are available within a small radius of the town, with horse-riding, swimming and cycling being especially popular. The town is inland, but it is within easy enough reach of the seaside in the Charente-Maritime department.

How to get there

Access to Barbezieux Saint Hilaire from the UK is simple. If you wish to fly you have a choice of three airports, these being La Rochelle, Poitiers and Limoges. Ryanair and/or flybe service these routes. Rail travel is an excellent choice too, as the nearby town of Angoulême is easily accessed from Paris or Lille on a TGV fast train. The nearest ferry port is St. Malo, and it will take you around four hours to drive from there to Barbezieux Saint Hilaire.

Property prices and availability in and around Barbezieux Saint Hilaire

Property in the Charente can be relatively expensive these days, as the area is not only popular with British buyers but also with Parisians seeking a summer residence. The town of Barbezieux Saint Hilaire, although small and typically French in appearance, does attract a lot of British interest which means that quality houses are not cheap, although probably less costly than those further west on the coast. There is, however, a wide variety of property available around the town, and those seeking the lovely Charantaise long houses for which the region is famed will not be disappointed. It is also worth remembering that it can be possible to buy a plot of land and build your own house for less than it may cost to buy and renovate a property, so look into this as well.

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Barbezieux Saint Hilaire AT A GLANCE

WHERE IS Barbezieux Saint Hilaire?

Barbezieux Saint Hilaire is located in western France, in the south-west of the Charente department, close to Charente's border with Charente-Maritime.

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Poitou-Charentes Guide

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Population: 4,819

Access: By air: Fly into Poitiers, La Rochelle or Limoges. By boat: St Malo is the nearest ferry port. By rail: TGV to Angoulême.

Economy: Agriculture is still the main economy in Barbezieux Saint Hilaire. Other sources of revenue are commerce, wooden furniture, agricultural machinery and food production. Regional products include cognac and pineau (a drink made from cognac and wine).

Interesting fact: The town of Barbezieux Saint Hilaire is known for its "Fair of Fat" (a celebration of the Foie Gras delicacy), which takes place in December each year.


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