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Talk of the Town - Surgères

Talk of the Town - Surgères

Thinking of moving? Here we visit Surgères in Charente-Maritime...


 The attractive medieval walled town of Surgères is found in the heart of dairy farm country, about half an hour inland from the Atlantic coast. The name Surgères is derived from the Gères, the river that runs through it and ultimately into the Charente. The town and the surrounding area are famous for butter. Echire butter is considered the finest in France, is made nearby. Dairy farming is the town’s major economic driver, reviving the town 150 years ago after the phylloxera virus wiped out the profitable wine industry.

Its main attractions are its 12th century walls which include remnants of a chateau that is linked to Hélène de Fonsèque, a beautiful young woman who had an affair with the poet du jour, Pierre de Ronsard, which saw her installed in the court of Charles IX of France. The Romanesque Notre Dame church has been a historic monument since 1862. The town is also famous for the Surgères 48-hour marathon that has been held there since 1985.

However, Surgères, population 6,100, is not a town full of eye-popping attractions but with three markets a week and a partly pedestrianised centre with streets lined with shops and cafes, it has a lively atmosphere, making it a great place to have as your closest major town. And as it is such a quick journey to the Atlantic coast, spending the day, or simply an afternoon, at the beach or shopping at La Rochelle is easy!


Surgères loves its markets – there are three each week, on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays. There is also a monthly foire on the third Tuesday of the month in the morning.


Surgères and its surrounds are not as expensive as properties close to the coast but being such a short distance from sea and sand means it is popular with those wanting the benefits of a coastal life but without the high price tag. Property types are varied but Charentaise farmhouses with some land are eagerly sought after. You can buy a property to renovate for well under €100,000, with traditional homes starting from about €170,000 for a three-bedroom house and rising quickly for properties with real character. 


The town benefits from both a private and state école primaire and a public collège. The lycée professionnel specialises in wood related skills including joinery and carpentry. 


Surgères is on three main bus routes with daily services to nearby towns of St Jean d’Angely, La Rochelle and Rochefort.
The closest airport is La Rochelle which has flights to and from the UK, Ireland, Portugal, Belgium and within France. Surgères is on the TGV line making Paris just under three hours away by train (