La Rentrée – Nous rentrons a l’Angleterre 

Approximately 10 hours to Boulogne Sur Mer yesterday and an overnight stop there and now next morning we’re sitting on the train ready to depart for England. Looking forward to seeing Rose (pussy cat), Tamarind (our UK home) and friends. Leaving behind sunny, blue skies and grape vines. Interesting new places and people. New friends. Le Petit Coquelicot (our French home) and fig trees, full of ripening figs. 

Advertisements

Les Jardins de Beauchamp, a garden in the South West of France

Mercredi 16 Août – visited the lovely Jardins de Beauchamp which has an associated garden centre called the Jardinerie Jay and both are found on the outskirts of Marmande, which is a largish town not far south of Duras, in the Lot et Garonne. 

Formally named the Jardins de Garonne, they were renamed the Jardins de Beauchamp in 2009 when the garden was given the award of  ‘Jardin Remarquable’.   Beauchamp is made up of various themed gardens in which water plays an important part. There is a large pond which has been inspired by the orient and is full of beautiful big yellow water lilies.  The Italian garden is made up of two separate long water rill with clipped box hedge on either side and tall cypruses trees.

The garden was newly planted in 2006 but is very well established and layerd out. It was designed by the son of the garden centre owner after finishing his horticultural qualifications. 

There is inspiration at every turn for the would be garden designer. From the unusual garden ornaments and large stone water features, to the pergolas and piegeioner. 
You enter the garden via the Jardinerie Jay. We didn’t look around this that thoroughly, however, it looked to have a very good selection of interesting plants. The gardens and garden centre are open all year round and so we will certainly be back in October to purchase some trees for ourlittlehouseinfrance. 

Quatre différentes formes de maisons dans Le Lot et Garonne

Back in the UK and it’s not long before my thoughts return to France, and of course our little house. Last week I came across a new Chanel 4 program called “Escape to the Château”. In the program a couple are seen purchasing a chateau for €250,000 and attempting to restore it for £30,000. What a joke😫, in my experience, any type of building work in France is really expensive. My nephew is in the process updating his pool and tells me he wont get much change out of that amount.  From what I know of our extension costs, I’m confident that you can purchase a property much cheaper than you could have it newly built.  However, having said that once you have chosen and purchased your French home it becomes, somewhat of a baby that you want to nurture and develop.  Or, maybe that’s just me!!!!!!!!!!

So I’m going to share with you, four different types of properties you can purchase in our department of the Lot et Garonne, from newly built bungalows to grand châteaux.

Our house is a very small modern bungalow, plain and simple. But as my readers know it is in the process of getting a make-over through the addition of a new pigeonnier.

For many young working French families in our area the modern bungalow is the property of choice if they decide to branch out away from the rural family home. They are relatively cheap to build, well insulated and therefore cheap to run. Some are built as part of a small group of similar properties called a lotissement. On their own, like ours is, they can sometimes be referred to as a villa d’architecte.  Much more exotic title than bungalow.  However, any contemporary villa built in the last 50 years often has this title.  They can look like a box or take on a weird angular appearance.   Now if you’d asked me before we began our search for a French property, what my ideal would be, it certainly wouldn’t have been a modern one. But we fell for this one which was built as a gite in the grounds of a larger newly built home. It has a wonderful view over grape vines and prune trees beyond.

And it’s on mains drainage and not the dreaded fosse septique with all of its rules and regulations.  I know most of France cope perfectly well with these poo removers but I’m afraid from our experience of looking at some of the older properties quite frankly they send shivers down my spine. ~Anyway, we chose modern……. but what else is on offer?

Villereal farmhouse

What’s not to love about an old French farmhouse (Fermette/Ferm)? Yes, I swoon too. Crepis free pierre stone and the ubiquitous Wisteria gently caressing the shutters and front door.

And, I doff my hat to anyone who can (has the balls to) turn this …..

needs renovation

into this……..

renovated farmhouse

I adore the genoise roof line, the huge fire places and, of course, the old well in the garden. But what about being lady or gentleman of the manor. The maison de maître…

classicmaisondemaitre

The master’s house or maison de maître has a symmetrical façade with a central front door.  Many built in the 18th or 19th century were the home of the squire or minor landowner of the area.  They are not unique to the Lot et Garonne or Aquitaine region of France and they can be found all over France.  They are known for their formal and practical layout. They have high ceilings and each floor will often have four main rooms with the ground-floor reception rooms opening off a central entrance hall.

These houses were a status symbol and today, the larger ones are often incorrectly referred to as châteaux.  The owners, who will have had land, will have made their living from agricultural rent.  Following the French Revolution the maison de maître became the home for gentlemen farmers and vintners.

And of course, we can all imagine ourselves owners of a French château.  Can’t we?

For example this one is only 395,000 Euros.

chateau1395

This one is 595,000 Euros.

chateaupau530,00euros

And none of these are more than a 1,000,000 Euros

The grandeur, the elegance, the splendour.  A château is impressive, in appearance and style.  It can be a country residence surrounded by an estate or a moated, turreted seat with royal connections.  The word chateau or “chastel” dates to the 18th-century, therefore a chateau is not strictly speaking a ‘castle’. A castle would be a château fort. Castles were built in order to defend those contained within their walls and date back to much earlier times, as far back as the 10th century or earlier.  A castle would have battlements, fortified walls and arrow slits, being built to withstand a siege.

After the Revolution, the term came to describe any spectacular country house with towers set in its own landscaped grounds. They can often look like the maison de maître,  elegant with symmetrical facades, but with greater dimensions, land, elaborate stonework and cornicing. A château may also be a winemaking property, of which there are many close to us around Bordeaux.

In the meantime I’ll make do with my own little tower!

image

 

I love the French pigeonniers

I have fallen in love with the French pigeonniers:)

image image image image image image image

Pigeon houses or pigeonniers started being built when the Romans came to France and brought their passion for pigeons with them.  Today they are a great architectural pleasure and come in a multitude of shapes.  They are now often converted into bedrooms or provide extra space for the main house.
Types of construction range from wood supported by wooden posts, to solid square towers of stone, supported on stone pillars, inlayed with brick.  They can be square or round and, although sometimes very old, they can also be recent constructions and a valued addition to a new property.
 
The pigeon house was also often used as part of a girl’s dowry. At the marriage of Marguerite Gralhet, in 1564, she offered her father’s pigeon house. Farmhands could also sell the pigeons for ‘pocket money’ and pigeon meat was, and still is, highly appreciated when the birds are young.  Their droppings were also used for precious fertilizer, in wine producing regions, pigeon manure was used to fertilize the vines.  The pigeon was an ally in WW1 used as ‘air mail’ messengers.
 
The high status of the pigeon stayed around until the Industrial Revolution when modern technology took over.  So while pigeonniers continue to add cachet to a house, their original inhabitants are now considered by many to be pests.  How sad is that?  My son always called pigeons ‘triblings’ when he was young.  So perhaps I’ll call mine a triblinnier!!!!
Some currently for sale below!
 
image