A Sumptuous 18th c. Listed buildingThe Royal Tannery of Lectoure
Glorious Restoration of a Classical French home
Seeped in the richness of history, this fine property which dates back to 1752, sits on the southern side of one France’s most beautiful villages.
With its fine classical architecture and its beautiful stone façade, this property was once part of the Royal Tannery, where historically animal hides were soaked with a mixture of waters from the Fountain of Diana, (once renowned for their healing properties) and ground up bark, and thus transformed into soft leathers, soaking at the time in one of 139 stone basins in the grounds. The leathers soaked here for up to eighteen months and became the Manufacture Royale de Lectoure.
Now a privately-owned home, which sits in private gardens where we still find some of the original stone basins, the building has been lovingly restored by its current owners to form a regal residence.
The property is within walking distance of the town’s many shops, restaurants and cinema. It is as much a part of this town’s history as the Cathedral at one end of the town and the Chateau at the other, once the home of the Counts of Armagnac.
One of the noblest, and finest residences in town, it is no surprise therefore that the building is listed as a monument of special interest. As such its owners may benefit with help for its restoration and other fiscal advantages which recompense the guardianship of this special piece of Gascon history.
This home – for above anything else it is a home – will appeal to lovers of classical architecture and fine gardens.
It is a unique opportunity to live not just within the walls of this historical building, but also in a village which never ceases to attract visitors and residents from all over the world.
Most often lovers of this town are in search of a view and a garden: here there is a spacious park to the south.
There are a number of magical corners in which to sit, including the pool which uses the largest of all the stone basins, and which is sheltered beneath a splendid high stone wall in the corner of the garden, creating a space of intimacy and beauty.
At the other side of the garden another ancient stone basin is filled with carp. There is a magic to these gardens which must be visited to be appreciated, but above all a sense that nothing has been contrived. There is an ancient beauty which lends a peaceful aura to this space, which behind closed walls maintains a sense of being in the town, but very much a “secret” garden.
In a town renowned for its architectural beauty, its ramparts, municipal gardens, thermal centre, Cathedral and other listed buildings, this property is without doubt the finest in town. Just minutes from the Cathedral of Lectoure, the property turns its back to the town, and looks outwards towards the Pyrennees, with uninterrupted views.
Yet if you are fearful that ownership of such an impressive building might compromise your levels of comfort – you may set your minds at rest. Each inch of property has been restored, to offer the highest levels of comfort throughout. With the installation of a new heating system, and a thoughtful and tasteful decorative theme throughout, room after room offers a haven of peace, tranquillity and comfort.
We enter the property on garden level. A recent refurbishment of the ground-floor has given the property new life (the kitchen was previously on the first floor). Now a vast new kitchen, with the finest quality work surfaces, a central island, a row of intelligent tall cupboards in elegant black line the far wall, leaving space to circulate and enjoy the views from the south-facing French windows and the west facing window with views to the natural pool.
Behind the scenes there is a vast storage and boiler space, which along with the many cupboards in the kitchen enables the space to remain decorative and uncluttered, with place for a set of armchairs by the window, a large breakfast table, and other decorative objects. The kitchen here is more than just a kitchen but a living space which turns around the garden.
The kitchen opens onto a pleasant downstairs library painted in luxurious tones on green, with a newly installed curvaceous chimney breast and shelves to each side. This is a warm and light room, which offers a downstairs reception area adjacent to the kitchen.
The downstairs hallway, with its inner hallway of storage space, offers a magnificent view upwards above the impressive stone staircase. This is truly one of the most splendid staircases in the town, along with that at La Marie. Its elegant curves lead upwards to the first-floor level and the grand hallway, with access to the upper courtyard and main entrance to the property.
At the top, in the main entrance hall, we are afforded magnificent south-facing views over the gardens, to the countryside and mountain range beyond. An elegant wrought-iron balcony adds to the elegance of the façade on this side. A beautiful wooden fireplace frame sits in a central position lending the aspect of an upstairs reception room to this space.
The main door opens onto a charming upper terrace area, cobbled and filled with the branches of an ancient wisteria, along with the hydrangeas which bloom in this shady north facing spot.
On this level, above the gardens, we find a reflection of the space and elegance of the ground floor.
This area is divided into two sections. The first a reception-room with an open working fireplace, the second reception room, currently houses a billiards table and a “cabinet de curiosité”, displaying a collection of objects reminiscent of the Natural History Museum. A quirky room which enjoys with the adjacent drawing-room, fantastic south-facing views.
As such the entire property on both levels, is bathed in light and opens out towards the mountains and the parkland which is populated with many mature trees, and the spread of ancient branches above finely clipped lawns to the vegetable plot, and the many decorative stone ponds which are part of the history of the property.
On the other side of the hallway, through a different set of doors and set back from the rest of the house, is the owner’s private appartment suite. This comprises master bedroom, a private study or library – which has the intimate feel of a “boudoir” and a dressing-room. There is a pleasant sense here of discovering a “private” appartment, which is set aside from the rest of the bedrooms.
From the hallway there is access from the main magnificent entrance hall to a second set of wooden stairs, under which there is a separate cloakroom/WC. From here we access the upper level of the property, beneath the eaves and the other bedrooms.
Upstairs there is a light Scandinavian feel, the simplicity of the white bed linen, and bleached beams sitting in perfect harmony across a space with two immense double bedrooms, both with en-suite bathrooms. So vast is the space there is also the sense here of being inside a private appartment, with characterful windows opening out on the slate rooftops.
Further bedroom accommodation can be developed in a separate building, accessed via the cobbled courtyard. This building, with water and electricity and the vestiges of an ancient kitchen and bathroom, is currently used as an artist’s atelier, but would with reparations, make a spacious second home for guests, family or for a guardian to the property.
Our thoughts here at Bliss
This is a unique opportunity to live in a historical building, with all the comforts of 21 century living. If you are drawn to Classical beauty, pale golden stone, spacious rooms, filled with light from the south, and an ambiance of pure unspoilt 18th century grandeur, in the heart of Lectoure, one of France’s most beautiful towns, then you need look no further.
- Fine architecture
- Rich history
- Bright and sunny with all main rooms facing south to the Pyrenees.
- Fully restored (new heating system, new kitchen, fresh painting and decorating).
- Beautiful high stone walls with a “secret” garden feel.
- Enclosed gardens – with carp-pond in ancient stone basin and swimming pool in stone basin
- Shops, restaurants, cinema, pharmacy, all on foot.
- 5 garages
Click images to enlarge