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Charente's weather?


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Hi people, my missus and I are planning on moving abroad later this year - as soon as we can ditch the house and the big mortgage. We plan on looking at certain areas in France, Spain and Italy, all for different reasons. One consideration is the weather -one of the big reasons for going abroad, so if any of you are living in the Charente region or not too far away could give me an idea of a typical year's climate, and how much it differs from an average southern England year, I'd be extremely grateful.

Many thanks.
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It's a very big area you've asked about. I can really only talk about Charente Maritime.

We studied temperature charts for a year, mainly Spain and France. Spain, too hot, not enough rain, apart from the North.

Charente Maritime, theoretically a temperate climate, second sunniest region of France, plenty of rain for gardeners. Spring comes roughly 3 weeks before southern England, Winter didn't really get going until just after Christmas. The nearer to the sea/Estuary, the milder the winter weather, but I also find that the nearer the coast, the mistier, and I think it might rain more.

The late spring and summers here are extremely hot, well they have been so far. Last winter was mild, but horribly wet, and it went on and on. I really felt as though I had been led up the garden path by my OH. Friend who has holiday home in Charente, about 10 miles south of Angouleme, has more extreme weather in the winter, much coldre, more snow and ice.

It's freezing today, I'll tell you that for a fact.

tresco

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Tresco,thanks for the (speedy) info. It is much more helpful to get that kind of information first hand rather than by checking weather forecasts etc.

Can I ask how long you have lived in France and are you generally glad that you made the move?

I hope it warms up soon for you - it seems like most of Europe is cold at the moment, even Majorca had snow this week!

Regards,

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Summers are generally a bit easier to predict but I think it's really hard to get a clear picture of winter weather in Europe as it varies from year to year.  You say you're also considering Italy.  We had lunch outside practically every day in sunny southern Tuscany last month yet on a previous winter visit had a foot of snow at the same house, which local people didn't view as that unusual.  By the way, I would forget Italy unless you speak good Italian, it is utterly impossible to live there otherwise.  M

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Hi Andy - we are in Northern Charente - fairly near Confolens and have found it's much wetter than north east Essex. As Tresco said, last winter  was long and wet (it rained for the whole of February) but there is very little wind here so not as unleasant as Essex. Summers are very hot, autumn and early winter here in 2004 were wonderful - lots of warm sunny days and spectacular colours - who needs New England!!

So far this year we have had two weeks of freezing but sunny weather (has been down to -6), one week of rain, and the rest mild and sunny.

We have been here for nearly three years and love it. But think carefully about where you need to be - the winters are quite long and in rural France there's not at lot to do at night so we tend to have friends round often for meals or go to their homes. We are happy to snuggle up in front of the woodburner with books or scrabble (I'm not a great telly watcher) but if you are used to going out and about a lot at night you may miss that. I have a friend who has called round three times in the last week because her house is so cold and she is really bored! I think quite a few people either move back or closer to a large town. Not many cultural activities either in rural France!!

We have small business so I'm out at work full time from March - October (partner works full time all year round and doesn't seem to mind - he reckons it's far more laid back and less stressful than what he did in the UK!)

Also, we know lots of people that don't speak French and have been here for years. It is possible but they must miss out on an awful lot. There is loads to see and do in the Charente (winter evenings excepted) and it's within reasonable car drive to ferries (also we have three airports within easy reach). We are and hour and a half away from the coast and five hours away from Spain and mountains.

best wishes.......helen

 

 

 

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HI, we live about 10 miles south of Angouleme and would agree with most of what Helen says.  We were shocked to find out how cold it could be here - minus 2 today - BUT, having come from the north of England we think we get less grey, rainy days here.  More cold days but lovely bright skies and we THINK that the winter is shorter, if there is a sheltered spot outside it's quite possible to be sitting outside (wearing a woolie!) at the end of Feb.

 

Margaret

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hi

like others have said, its really where in the charente... the region is bigger in feel than it looks on the map.

i'm in between mansle / ruffec / st. claud and fairly rural - in other words not totally isolated. we've had snow in the last week, its been down to -6 on a couple of mornings, today its pretty mild - tomorrow who knows? in short, a fairly typical charentais january / february.

winter 2002/3 was darned cold (the day i moved in it was -10 and i was confronted by burst water pipes and more) - summer 2003 was unfeasibly hot - we went off the scale here (ie over 50 degrees). last winter was pretty grotty and the summer more equable & spring came later than usual for some reason.

if you are serious about the move then spend time in the area - get a feel for the region as it varies so, so much. and, try to spend time here out of season as its pointless looking around when its all sunny and the flowers are out - that just gives a false impression. a good rule of thumb is to imagine (or better still - to see) what its like on a miserable wet tuesday afternoon in february. if you can deal with that, you'll love it here... if not... to be brutally frank, its pointless making the move 'cos you'll end up bored and fidgety.

the biggest difference you'll notice is that it is not one bit like those ridiculous unreal reality tv shows... 'cos, while the sun may always shine on tv, it doesn't always do that here.

that said, its a truly wonderful part of the country... the locals are incredibly welcoming (and, if you try - no matter how bad you feel your grasp of the language is - they'll do all they can to communicate) - its a little like living in rural britain from the fifties where old fashioned courtesies actually still matter; you'll find kindnesses that you'd forgotten existed in the hurly burly rush of blair's version of 21st century britain.

the pace of life is, indeed, slower... you eat & sleep better and feel somehow healthier; the stars at night are something to behold; one can get lost on the maze of mini-lanes that abound and - where i am there's nothing nicer than a bicyle ride with my ten year old daughter on the forest tracks being chased by butterflies.

one gets used to what the supermarkets stock (or don't as the case may be) as well as the little vagaries of life here - its simply... different.

and, there is more than masses to do here or keep oneself occupied; a zillion places to explore & things to do - plus, as others have said, its very well served by rail / 'plane from the uk and its a pretty easy drive down from any of the ferry ports without turning the journey into a leg-numbing ride.

when i compare my life here to that in the uk - its a no-brainer.

my only regret is that i didn't move years ago.

neil.
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Hi to the original poster. We first saw the house three years ago today. Everything seemed very flat at the time, but I have a photo of MOH in a T shirt, and me with a small jacket on and sunglasses, shielding my eyes from the sun too.

When we came back in June to do the final signing, the whole area was so much prettier than I could every have imagined, and much less flat somehow. I would recommend searching in the autumn to spring to anyone. If you like it when its grey and flat, you will probably love it in the summer.

We have been here about 17 months and yes, we are happy here. We are about 40 minutes both from the sea, and the very beautiful more hilly Charente around Angouleme. The village we live near is generally regarded as being exceptionally friendly (by local French people, and others who travel from their own villages to come to the 'do's' in ours).

All the posts here should give you an idea of just how variable the climate, and the scenery is in the Charentes, (the further inland, generally, the more hilly, and in my opinion, pretty the scenery, although there are exeptions to this. If you can afford it, I would recommend at least one trip driving around, perhaps stay in two or three different places, not looking at houses specifically.

By the way, I know I said it was freezing in my last post, but the last few days have been much milder, and I forgot to say that we were outside gardening in T shirts for a few days just before Christmas. Lovely sun, huge blue sky today.

tresco

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Many thanks for all the replies everybody - what an active forum!

I know this is under the wrong heading, but as you live somewhere within the Charente region maybe you could give me your opinions on something I posted in another section:

"Hi everyone (anyone?),

We are seriously hoping to move to either sw France or se Spain later this year, but one obvious major consideration is earning a living! We plan to visit both countries, and maybe Italy, and will have a good nose around each (good way of getting three short holidays in one year!). If we decide on France then it would probably be the southern Charente region.

At present I make pine furniture, both free standing and fitted, which I have done for 20 years or so - so it can't be too bad! I'm trying to get an idea as to whether there would be a market for it there, and not just with the Brits. I would also advertise for general carpentry, tiling, decorating etc which I can do to a good standard (not trying to blow my own trumpet!). We would probably buy a renovation project and so hopefully would have a year or so in which to become known locally before needing to start work again anyway.

If anyone's still awake after reading this, I'd be glad of your thoughts!"

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[quote]Many thanks for all the replies everybody - what an active forum!I know this is under the wrong heading, but as you live somewhere within the Charente region maybe you could give me your opinions on s...[/quote]

We have lived in the Charente for 18mths and have used different artisans over that period. According to someone who has lived in France for many years skilled craftsmen are becoming thin on the ground. The young don't want to take up these trades any longer.

However there is no shortage of good carpenters(menuisiers)and plenty of small cabinet makers. The problem is trying to get anything done in a reasonable amount of time. Kitchens that are handmade tend to reflect typical French style

and are much more ornate than we are used to. Beautiful never the less. It is possible though to have furniture made up in the wood of one's choice and to any design.

Most French people in our village have built their own kitchens and nearly all have inherited furniture which gives their homes that individual touch. Dough bins, armoires etc seem very popular.

There is a rather special shop outside Angouleme which does sell pine furniture.

You will see similar on the website www.le-comptoir-de-famille.com.

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hello everyone, we have had our house in civray for 14 months now, coming over from the uk every six weeks, but from 3rd of march my husband and i and our two boxer dogs are are staying,, and i cant wait,, all that gardening and fantastic walks with my dogs, cozy evenings by the fire in the winter,, warm summer evenings with a glass of wine on our porch,, bliss    if you live near to civray why dont you email me, id like to get to know more about our part of france
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hello everyone, we have had our house in civray for 14 months now, coming over from the uk every six weeks, but from 3rd of march my husband and i and our two boxer dogs are are staying,, and i cant wait,, all that gardening and fantastic walks with my dogs, cozy evenings by the fire in the winter,, warm summer evenings with a glass of wine on our porch,, bliss    if you live near to civray why dont you email me, id like to get to know more about our part of france
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We have lived in the Deux Sevres for 8 months and apart from a poor August its been okay, not as much rain as I thought we would get with it being very green around these parts, winter was quite mild, started end Oct begin Nov and with only a few really cold days beteween then and now, 31st Dec outside fixing car in T shirt, its started to warm up a little now, cant wait for summer to arrive proper though.

Regards

Lee

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