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Chestnuts and churches

The town of Melle, situated in western France in the department of the Deux-Sèvres, is a very pretty market town with a glorious backdrop of beautiful countryside. Lying in a region of woodland and pasture, Melle offers a view of no less than three beautiful Romanesque churches backed by landscapes of spreading chestnut trees and lazily flowing rivers. Mediaeval in origin, Melle has some lovely ancient streets and houses to enjoy, as well as some fascinating history to discover.

A glimpse of the past

Melle is a town which offers a real insight into the past, as there is so much of its history in evidence today. The town has several washing areas, where the townspeople used to gather around the fountains and wash houses to do their laundry and to chat. There was even a separate area for those poor unfortunate souls who suffered from leprosy. The town also lies on the old pilgrim route to Santiago de Compostela, and the fountains would probably have been used by the tired pilgrims for bathing and refreshment.

An "ecclesiastical jukebox"!

The three churches of Melle are very beautiful and representative of all that is the best about Romanesque religious architecture. The undisputed star of the show is the Church of Sainte Hilaire, which is not only built in a most intricate and beautiful design, but also has what can only be described as an "ecclesiastical jukebox", a piece of automated equipment which plays religious music!

Around town

Melle has some modern day pleasures to offer as well as its history and traditions. The colourful Friday market is always a delight, with its bustling rural charm and fresh produce, and the shops in the town are excellent for leisurely browsing too. Melle has a couple of supermarkets for those "one stop shopping" trips, and the town has most amenities such as doctors, banks and schools. There are cafés, restaurants and even a jazz bar for your evening entertainment, so although the ambience is essentially rural, Melle has a pleasant social scene.

What to see and do near Melle

Melle has plenty of interesting possibilities if you are looking for ways to spend your leisure time. The town is the site of the oldest silver mine in Europe, and you can take a guided tour. There is also an archaeological dig close to the town, and a beautiful three and three quarter mile walk, the Arboretum Chemin de la Découverte, which takes you past more than hundred varieties of trees and shrubs. This also includes a glorious show of roses in season.

Slightly further afield

Going a little further afield you could visit the seaside town of La Rochelle, take a day trip to the theme park of Futuroscope at Poitiers, or perhaps spend some time watching many species of monkeys in a natural environment at the Valley of the Monkeys. Melle is well placed for accessing many parts of this lovely region of France.

How to get there

To reach Melle from the UK you have a good choice of airlines and arrival airports. Several airlines, including the budget operators Ryanair and easyJet fly into airports in the region. Choose to fly to Nantes (GB Airways, Ryanair, Aer Arann), La Rochelle (Ryanair, flybe, easyJet), Poitiers (Ryanair) or Limoges (Ryanair, flybe). The TGV also stops at Poitiers, so rail travel is another option.

Property prices and availability in and around Melle

Melle is a lovely town which can prove to be a very interesting proposition for anyone looking to buy property in rural France. The Deux-Sèvres still has renovation properties available, although these do tend to sell quickly once they come onto the market, and prices remain reasonable in comparison with many other parts of the country... and certainly in comparison with prices in most of the UK!

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Melle is situated in the west of France, in the south-east of the Deux-Sèvres department.

Melle Property Map


Poitou-Charentes Guide

Poitou-Charentes Property Map


Deux-Sèvres Guide

  Deux-Sèvres Map

Population: 2,357

Access: By air: Fly to La Rochelle, Nantes, Poitiers or Limoges with a variety of airlines from departure points around the UK. By rail: There is a TGV station at Poitiers making train travel a viable option.

Economy: The economy is principally agricultural.

Interesting fact: Melle has the oldest silver mine in Europe which is open to the public for guided tours.

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