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On the banks of the river

The little market town of Civray, in western France, sits prettily on the banks of the lovely Charente River in the Vienne department. Tranquil and unspoiled, the town is dominated by an impressive Romanesque church. This can be glimpsed from the far banks of the river through the trees, or seen in all its splendour from the main square of the town where it looks down onto pavement cafés and a twice weekly market.

Typically Charantaise

Civray is typically Charantaise in style (although actually in the Vienne department), with soft grey stone houses and pale blue shutters blinking sleepily in the afternoon sun. There are many delightful gardens in Civray, and it can be a pleasure in itself just to walk around the town enjoying the fragrant fruits of other people's labours!

All mod cons…

Although Civray is an old and peaceful place, the town has kept up with the demands of 21st century life. There are all the facilities you will need for everyday life here in the town, with supermarkets, doctors, dentists, banks and schools. There are also a variety of cafés, bars and restaurants for your enjoyment.

Romanesque church

The church of Saint Nicholas, which is such an impressive feature of the town, is known as one of the earliest and finest examples of Romanesque architecture in the region. The building, which dates back to the twelfth century, stands tall, overlooking the pavement cafés in the main square to one side, and the River Charente to the other. Twice a week, the church gazes down onto the hustle and bustle of the market, as the stallholders come to sell their wares and the townsfolk turn out to buy and to chat.


The French love their antiques, and Civray is a magnet for collectors as the town hosts no less than three yearly antiques fairs. Collectors come from all over the region to seek their treasures here, and experienced dealers jostle shoulders with enthusiastic amateurs. Whether you are seeking grand pieces of authentic French furniture, or simply a pot or two for the kitchen, there will be something for you here.

Riverside walks

The town, being set on the River Charente, is a joy for walkers, and there are some lovely riverside paths easily accessible from Civray. The area is also great for cycling and horse-riding, as the gentle countryside lends itself well to most outdoor pursuits.

Monkey park

Those looking to spend an enjoyable and unusual day out won't have to travel far from Civray. The town is close to the fabulous Vallée des Singes, where you can wander through the extensive grounds and see hundreds of monkeys, gorillas and chimpanzees playing free in a natural habitat. The screeches fill the air as you walk around (becoming deafening at feeding time!), and if you look up, the chances are you will catch sight of monkeys swinging from tree to tree right above your head!


If you prefer science to nature, or are simply looking for a different sort of experience, then you should visit Futuroscope near Poitiers. Offering educational rides as well as being a sound and light spectacular, Futuroscope also puts on some amazing laser and firework displays in season as darkness falls.

How to get there

To reach Civray by air, you can fly with Ryanair to Limoges, La Rochelle or Poitiers. Limoges is also served by flybe, and La Rochelle also served by flybe and easyJet. Ruffec is the nearest TGV station which is 30 kilometres away, though as it only has one TGV per day in each direction, Poitiers (at 50 kilometres away) might be a better bet, as this offers more frequent services. Rail travel from the UK via Eurostar to Paris or Lille and TGV to Poitiers is a real option. (Changing trains at Lille means that you don't have the hassle of transferring between the stations of Gare du Nord and Gare Montparnasse in Paris.) Incidentally, the nearest TER station is at Saint Saviol, a few kilometres west of Civray.

Meanwhile, if you are travelling by road, the A10 from Paris will get you to Poitiers, and from there you can take either the RN10 and D7, or D741 and D1.

Property prices and availability in and around Civray

Property in the Vienne used to be some of the cheapest in France, but this is no longer the case. The region is becoming increasingly popular with foreign buyers as well as French second home owners, and prices are rising accordingly. The Vienne, being inland, is still less expensive then areas near the coast, however, and property here can prove to be a very good investment.

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WHERE IS Civray?

Civray lies in the west of France, in the south-west of the Vienne department, close to Vienne's borders with both Charente and Deux-Sèvres.

Civray Property Map


Poitou-Charentes Guide

Poitou-Charentes Property Map


Vienne Guide

  Vienne Map

Population: 3,000

Access: By air: Fly to Limoges, Poitiers or La Rochelle. By rail: TGV to Poitiers from Paris or Lille, then local train to Saint Saviol or continue by road. By road: Follow A10 auto route to Poitiers, then follow the RN10 and D7 or D741 and D1.

Economy: Economic influences include agriculture and antiques. The twice weekly market is also significant.

Interesting fact: The town hosts no less than three Broccantes, or antiques fairs every year. These are held in the centre of the town and are a must for collectors.


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