character houses for sale gers - castelnau in france

Two houses facing one another ready to accommodate demanding residents
in unspoilt Castelnau, one of the French department of Gers’ most beautiful villages
Auch, GERS midi-pyrenees 32000 FR

Location

The property is situated in the “Golden Triangle”: just 10 minutes from Lectoure and 40 minutes from Agen (featuring a high-speed rail connection to Paris (3h10) and an airport with flights to Paris and the UK).

The village, an ancient “castlelnau” (medieval feudal territory), is situated on a hilltop overlooking the surrounding countryside. Already set in a remarkably serene landscape, its secluded access grants it even more peace and quiet. The surrounding topography made it impossible to follow the historical conventions of the Roman castrum layout: normally, a rectangular plan with straight streets organized at right angles around a central square. Instead, the village is a veritable labyrinth of alleyways, giving it a distinctly Italian (itself originally inspired by Greece!) feel and emphasizing the ties that have linked Gascony and Italy since the Middle Ages.

Description

Far more than a simple house, this home is a mini-compound consisting of two independent components set across from one another. The first component comprises two houses set on parallel lanes, linked perpendicularly by a third lane. Their footprint forms two small, offset courtyards that create the effect of a continuous patio – as if the two buildings had always been conceived as one unit. Today, they are not only perfectly integrated, but their union appears completely organic. This connection is emphasised by a skywalk literally joining their upper levels.
The current owners, faced with the compound’s extreme state of disrepair at the time of their purchase, took it upon themselves to intensively renovate the property, even going so far as to rebuild one of the houses almost entirely. This has resulted in a residence that is not only pleasant to live in, but also to receive friends and guests in comfort and style with room to spare. (A large interior garage and a lift have also been installed in the property). In addition, the renovation works bore the creation of a modern spa and a truly professional-grade kitchen (the contribution of the current lady of the house, whose knowledge and skill in the culinary arts is extensive). The region, noted for its high-quality local produce and large seasonal variety, lends itself particularly well to this feature.
Here, the renovation work is complete and carried out by top-notch craftsmen. The project was comprehensive in its purview: structure, roofing, electricity, plumbing, etc. Everything conforms to modern standards and is in excellent condition – the property is ready for immediate occupancy.
The property’s second component is a third residential structure, situated opposite. It is a simple and elegant building of traditional design, structurally in excellent condition, but which would benefit from further renovation in regards to fitting and furnishing.

Main Residence

The two houses are linked by two small courtyards and a skybridge on the upper level. An interesting architectural feature: contrary to expectation, the two conjoined courtyards are not situated street level; the slope of the streets resulted in the courtyards being set over a newly-built garage so that they remain on a level plane. Thus, the ground surface is neither stone nor brick, but of weatherproof wooden decking. The walls are of rendered quarry stone, and thus provide excellent natural insulation. Both houses are roofed with traditional wooden rafters covered with Spanish tile. One of the buildings is flanked by an ancient tower, which houses the main staircase and overlooks the courtyards. Double- or single- tile cornices, several French door bays painted grey, and Italian-style shutters make up the properties’ most notable external features. The interior facade is offset by arched floor-to-ceiling windows, which add an elegant, classic touch amid the rural surroundings. The slightly offset siting of the two houses with respect to one another is in itself fascinating, and creates a play of light and shade which changes throughout the day; showing the overall property, quite literally, in its best light.


Ground floor
As a result of the gradient of the terrain, the entrance level is partially underground. The lower part of the property opens onto the lane which running perpendicular to the slope. The entrance to a large garage (59 m2) is situated here. Off the garage is an ensemble of rooms, harbouring facilities for professional-grade food service (kitchen with dumb-waiter, dishwashing station, laundry, food cellar, various pantries, separate and disabled WC facilities, etc.). In the house located higher up the street, the entrance level becomes a true cellar. This underground section of the property is consecrated as a spa centre, comprising a hammam, sauna, and a jacuzzi, as well as the machine room for the swimming pool on the floor directly above.

Garden level
Entry to the garden level is through a porch, which forms a sort of vestibule between the street, and the entrance-proper. This is the first level of the property which runs completely above that of the parallel lanes. In accordance with local architectural tradition, it is designed for social functions and as such, houses salons and a dining room. From the porch, one proceeds to a room which may eventually be turned into a cloakroom, and which opens onto a drawing room featuring a bar worthy of a grand hotel.

The bar opens on one side onto one of the little courtyards, from whence a grand dining room can be spied through the large windows; on the other side, its opens onto a corridor which leads to the main drawing room. An indoor swimming pool is located between the drawing-room-cum-bar and the main drawing room, while a wall-fountain recalls the flavour of Italy. Unlike most Gascon houses, on this level usually reserved for reception purposes, there are also two facing single-storey bedrooms down a small corridor. Each has its own en-suite bathroom.
First floor
In Gascon houses, the first floor is traditionally the bedroom level with (nowadays) accompanying bath and/or shower rooms. In this case, there are four bedrooms. Three of these have a bathroom with separate WC; the fourth is an apartment suite with bathroom, separate WC, and drawing room. Outside the bedrooms, the views are astounding: a small terrace overlooks an interior courtyard and the roofs of the neighbouring houses; another view embraces the surrounding countryside. Intimacy and openness combine in perfect harmony moving through the spaces, from terrace to skywalk. At every point, light is both abundant while remaining under control. And out of sight from neighbouring homes, privacy and discretion is maintained. Everything strikes a perfect balance.

The House Opposite

For those who enjoy entertaining and allowing guests to feel at home, it is quite practical to have close but separate quarters for hosts and guests; such is the case here. Across from the main house stands a smaller property, which needs only interior updating to become a 5-star guest residence. The building’s exterior is appealing, even elegant, and in excellent condition; but the interior would benefit from a complete restyling (its 1960s-era interior does little justice to the stylistic harmony of the house).
Covering a surface-area of 148 m2 divided over two levels, the layout of this house offers a pleasant, intimate living space. A full-height cellar is also accessible via a staircase.


Ground floor
A room featuring a fireplace serves an entrance hall, and gives directly out onto the lane separating the two structures. From there, a few steps lead to another room, intended as a dining room; this, too, is situated alongside the alley. A door leads from the dining room to the kitchen. From the entrance hall, a door opens onto a staircase to the first floor. An additional feature of note is that a single-storey cellar, ideal for keeping wine, can also be accessed from this staircase.
First floor
As is the custom in Gascony, all bedrooms are located upstairs. There are four of them, of varying sizes, and they share a single bathroom and separate WC.

Our opinion

This property offers the dual pleasures of living in France amid a landscape that evokes the Italian countryside. Silence reigns along the steep, winding streets, where a single car – let alone heavy traffic – would seem out of place. The eye is drawn to fields of orange and meadows and groves of green in the surrounding hills. The main residence of the property is not only in excellent condition, but the harmonization and layout of its various spaces is seamless. What’s more, no detail has been overlooked in ensuring maximum comfort: the ultimate destination for residents seeking a haven of tranquil delight. The inclusion of the third house is an added bonus for those who chose to remodel it, whether for their own use or as a guest house for visitors.

Exclusive sale

645 000 €
Honoraires à la charge du vendeur


Voir le Barème d'Honoraires

Reference 367445

Land registry surface area 663 m2
Main building surface area 783 m2

French Energy Performance Diagnosis

Regional representative
Gers


Philippe Fritsch       +33 1 42 84 80 85

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NB: The above information is not only the result of our visit to the property; it is also based on information provided by the current owner. It is by no means comprehensive or strictly accurate especially where surface areas and construction dates are concerned. We cannot, therefore, be held liable for any misrepresentation.

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