Elegant Stone Property In Glorious Parkland
Maison de Maître
3 Bedrooms, Maison de Maître In Country Park
585 000 €
Agency Fees included (4.5%)
“Beautiful House & Gardens...”
by Karen Pegg
This traditional Maison de Maitre sits at the end of a quiet hamlet, in the countryside just outside Lectoure. A few minutes’ drive from this popular market town, with its shops, restaurants, antique fairs and spa, this property offers enormous scope for lovers of nature and gardening as well as providing a characterful country home that is both authentic and beautifully restored.
The main entrance to the property is through a set of tall wrought iron gates which open onto the gardens from a tiny private lane, with the promise of something special. The house is found at the top of a winding gravel pathway, sitting proudly as it has for almost two hundred years.
The main gardens stretch beyond the property, as one’s line of vision is drawn through the many trees and shrubs that have been pruned back to frame the various sections of garden as far as the eye can see; each with its own ambiance; from formal, to romantic, to wild.
The current owner has lovingly developed the gardens over many years learning a passion for both wildlife and horticulture at one and the same time.
‘I knew nothing before I came here,’ he tells us, ‘I’d worked in the city all my life. I learnt as I went along.’
‘My main objective was to create a garden that offered as many private seating areas as possible, and one in which it was possible to be at one with nature and for us to live peacefully side by side.’
Wherever we turn, there are outdoor salons with an array of wicker chairs, day-beds and wooden tables scorched in the sunshine; bowers of roses adorn these private nooks and crannies; a vegetable plot houses a noisy cockerel and his hens, who run out as tame as kittens.
‘I didn’t want there to be a divide between house and garden, but for nature to be a part of the house and for the garden’s wildlife to know that we weren’t a threat. We weren’t the sort of family to come and arose the garden with pesticides. We wanted to encourage the fauna and wildlife.’
Organically, this garden has grown without the help of chemicals, and the trees are awash with fruit, the grass with wildflowers orchids.
‘We don’t need to buy fruit on the local markets anymore. We have more than we can eat here.’
There is fruit for picking at every turn: figs, apricots, grapes, vineyard peaches, Victoria plums, nectarines, apples, pears, cherries, berries for Sloe Gin, walnuts, hazelnuts and almonds. There are also the vines. Five rows of a thousand plants laden with different varieties of grape and all organically treated.
This is a busy garden. There are many visitors to it and not all are human. Here it is possible to catch a glimpse of the Greater Spotted Woodpecker, a familiar pair of black woodpeckers with a dash of vibrant red in their plumage, Golden Oriels, hoopoes, buzzards, owls and hedgehogs.
‘The hedgehogs come into the barn at night through a specially designed ‘hedgehog flap’ and enjoy a special bowl of milk at night when we are in bed.’
Topiary bushes and Cyprus trees bring a formality to some parts of the garden, while to the rear of the plot, there is an expanse of grass which is left for the wild orchids to grow. It is a paradise for bees, including the relatively rare Swallow-Tail butterfly, ideal for anyone with designs on home-made honey. The trees are too numerous to list, but some of the more unusual ones of note are the Jacaranda Tree, the Paper Mulberry and the red-flamed Japanese Acer. The boundary to the property is marked by a line of old oak.
Each area of the garden offers a different ambiance, and as we come across an old wooden table, a candelabra strung up above from its trellising, its candles melted down, it is easy to imagine supper outdoors, beneath the expanse of night stars. Or again, on the terrace just outside the downstairs bedroom, a small table and chairs are placed strategically beneath a vine laden with ripe fruit. ‘I loved the idea, coming from the concrete of a city, of sitting outside and reaching up to pluck my fruit fresh from the branch.’
The house spills out onto the garden, its boundaries lost through the original barn door which is now a huge expanse of aluminium and glass, effectively dividing the internal living-space with the outside world. The kitchen has a shabby chic feel. Old dressers and units are painted black, and the vast head height of the barn, with its mezzanine and wrought iron railing, offers a light and contemporary space.
The mezzanine is used as a study and library, ‘a great place to work, without feeling cut off from the family downstairs.’ The first south-facing sitting-room has retained its original terracotta floor and stone sink. The old fireplace houses an efficient wood-burning stove which once stoked up, heats a large part of the house, creating a cosy ambiance. A second east-facing reception room is used as a television room and is fresh and spacious with its white painted floor.
On the ground floor, there is a large shower-room, with an Italian design walk-in shower of polished cement (spacious enough to wash one of the deer that roam the gardens) and a room currently used as a master bedroom, with a private terrace and pergola to the east, draped with grapes and roses making this a lovely room for coffee outdoors in the morning sunshine. There is also a boiler area (and “hedgehog” feeding area). Next to this, there is a beautiful old chai, which is adjacent to the kitchen offering tremendous scope with its new roof, for a triple sized reception area, or for more downstairs bedrooms and a salon. With its original earth floor, there is everything to do, but with its fine white stone walls and high ceilings, it is easy to imagine the many different possibilities such a space can lend itself to.
From the hallway, and the front door, the original turning staircase leads to the first floor, and to a sizeable landing with its old parquet floor and window to the South, with space for a second study area.
From here are two upstairs double bedrooms, a spacious bathroom with a feature free-standing bath tub and Italian shower, and access to the mezzanine/library area, which overlooks the kitchen. The current owners are looking for someone who shares their love of gardens and wildlife to take over this very special corner of the earth.
This is a lovely, warm family home. Shabby chic in style, with touches of contemporary elegance in its bathrooms, and rich with a wealth of original old features.
Year of construction
Maison de Maître
Here at Bliss...
When I asked the owner what kind of person he imagined taking his place, he laughs: ‘Someone who wants not just a beautiful house but a garden; who just like me will get down from his tractor to move a snail out of harm’s way. Someone who will share this space with all our creatures, great and small.’
Int. Airport Toulouse: 102 km (1h24)
Motorway A62: 35 km (35 min)
Agen train station: 42 km (42 min)
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