2 hours from Paris, a pied-à-terre for lovers of the countryside
In the centre of northern France, the Centre-Val de Loire region, lies the little town of Romilly-sur-Aigre. The recently created “health trail” on the banks of the Aigre promotes the local ecosystem with its flora and fauna and proudly asserts the rural heritage.
The property is located close to the 16th and 18th century parish church with its portal flanked by two large listed pepperpot towers, which once served as lazar houses to isolate the sick under the Ancien Régime. During the winter months, when the trees are bare, the 18th century mansion, which lies almost at the edge of the village and close to the river, offers a view of the cultivated fields and of the Aigre valley with its many hiking trails in the distance.
Romilly-sur-Aigre is a quiet town that has barely changed over the centuries. At one time, Hubert de Givenchy had his chateau there. However, the provincial air has not diminished its dynamism. All amenities, including a bookshop, a health centre, a pharmacy, five restaurants, including a gourmet restaurant, a bookshop and food shops are within a 6-minute drive.
2 hours from Paris by car, 15 minutes from Châteaudun station, 30 minutes from Vendôme TGV station, 6 minutes from Cloyes-sur-le-Loir station and 45 minutes from the first chateaux of the Loire Valley, the property is ideally situated in the Eure-et-Loir department.
With a slate roof, enhanced by old Jacobean dormers, the building offers two levels and the front facade is discreetly rendered. On the garden side, the facade, of balanced proportions, reveals the cube-shaped construction topped by new Jacobean dormers, installed in the late 1990s, at the same time as the faithful restoration of the roof took place. Virginia creeper frames the wood and glass door with its neo-classical transom. Everywhere, the window frames have been renewed in the old style, the French windows are double-glazed, and the roof has been completely restored.
The layout can be appreciated from the outside thanks to the perfect symmetry of the entrance door flanked by two French windows, corresponding to the successive rooms on either side of the central corridor. The floor plan of the house has remained unchanged since its construction. The central corridor serves on one side the living room and on the other the dining room, the guest toilet, the kitchen, and the stairs to the upper floor. A door leads to the stone staircase, worn by the repeated footsteps of those who went to fetch the bottles from the large vaulted cellar which remains permanently cool and dry. The wattle and daub walls of this entrance are painted with green lime-washed stripes. All the interior wall coverings of the house have been the object of painstaking attention on the part of the owner, who has chosen quality natural clays and mineral pigments found in France and Italy. Mixed with lime on the interior walls and between the beams, they match the patina of the octagonal terracotta floor tiles. The dining room of about 20 m2 is square, with a small fireplace under a Louis-Philippe ornamental mirror and a cupboard with a period door. The radiator under the window provides heating for the old sill tiles, which can be used as heat plates for dishes. Two high plaster reliefs embedded in the wattle and daub walls adorn the wall between the living room and the dining room. They are situated above the doors of the two reception rooms and represent Saint Louis on the Crusades and Saint Louis rendering Justice under his oak tree, neo-Gothic works by an anonymous sculptor from the second half of the 19th century. The room, with a surface area of approximately 35 m2, forms a corner and thus allows multiple conversations between friends to take place simultaneously. During the winter, the fireplace next to the recessed writing cabinet is almost continuously lit. The ink-stained wood of the latter is said to have served as a support for the agricultural accounts of the knight who lived there two hundred years ago. The colours of the beams and the lime mouldings alternate playfully. The kitchen has retained its 19th century feel with its high polished stone fireplace with its mouldering wood stove. The boards on the wall have retained the original nails for the copper pans, the cupboards bear the patina of time. The space of approximately 12 m2 is cleverly used to hide the oven and fridge. The induction hobs blend into the darker tones of the room as the sun shines through the windowpanes.
A door served by the central corridor opens onto a hidden staircase leading up to the second level. The orange tone of the whitewashed walls is reminiscent of waxed floor tiles. A landing of about 10 m2 offers a rich corner library, offering a choice of books to read at bedtime. It serves 2 bedrooms, one of which can easily be split into two, as well as a bathroom with toilet. The first room of about 20 m2 is lit by three windows with decorated interior shutters. High moulded cupboards can conveniently store clothes and linen up to the ceiling. A door with small wooden panes and mercury mirrors opens onto a very large room of 35 m2, which could easily be divided into 2 rooms thanks to the 2 windows. Solid wooden cupboards hold what is meant to be hidden from view, while books can be seen behind the window grills. Opposite, the well-lit bathroom features a skylight that illuminates daily ablutions in the whirlpool bath. The sink is built into an old sideboard, the toilet is hidden behind old shutters. A cupboard with louvered shutters allows the toilet elements to be hidden from view.
A former outbuilding of approx. 40 m2 on two levels, it has a slate roof and facades with visible stonework and corner quoins. The ground floor boasts a large old stone fireplace. The first floor consists of a single slab floor and is accessed by a miller's staircase. Everything remains to be done to make the house comfortable. However, the water supply connections exist and the house is sound.
In the winter months, the view stretches from here to the roofs of the next village a few kilometres away. Three square stone steps lead to the middle of the cobbled terrace where one can dine in the summer evenings. From there, the landscape slopes towards a field where two goats, a cow and the neighbour's retired horse safely graze. Two low stone walls separate the meadow from the garden proper. Its surface area is small, about 700 m2, but the open space and the view allow enjoyment of the great outdoors. The L-shaped layout would permit the pleasure of a tranquil garden and the creation of a vegetable plot for amateurs. It forms an angle around the outbuilding which has been converted into a guest house. Stones and box hedges mark out areas of privacy which punctuate the garden and offer various restorative activities: dinners on the paved terrace, tea under the gazebo, meditation between the arches awaiting to be planted with rosebushes, seclusion on the small bench at the back.
The mansion could have been the presbytery of the church of Romilly-sur-Aigre, for it has such an air of English-style ecclesiastical notability. Despite the relatively small size of this house, there is a striking patrician style. From its prominent, elegant and welcoming entrance, in the immediate proximity of the Romilly village church, emanates an atmosphere reminiscent of early 19th century English novels. The neo-classical door could serve as the opening of a romantic film. Perhaps a story of an elegant village and a clergyman, with a well-ordered vicar’s garden, and somewhat defiant marriageable girls under the pen of Jane Austen. Laughing, in a white cotton Empire dress, one of them would exclaim from the window: "My ideas flow so rapidly that I have not time to express them" (Jane Austen, "Pride and Prejudice", 1813).
It is a house for an aesthete, a poet, a reader, or a time traveller who would like to retreat to a small hermitage, and possibly grow vegetables of forgotten colours.
|Land registry surface area||740 m2|
|Main building surface area||140 m2|
|Number of bedrooms||3|
|Outbuilding surface area||50 m2|
|including refurbished area||150 m2|
Sixtine de Naurois +33 1 42 84 80 85
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.