at the foot of Dentelles-de-Montmirail in Beaumes-de-Venise
Beaumes-de-Venise is in the midst of Comtat-Venaissin (Venaissin County), part of the Papal States on the heights of the French department of Vaucluse in the Provence-Alpes-Côte-d'Azur region. This southern village is sheltered from the Mistral wind by a small chain of mountains known as the Dentelles-de-Montmirail. Attracting many tourists, it has numerous shops and amenities (restaurants, bars, doctors, etc.). Orange is but some 20 km away, whilst Avignon (TGV train station and airport) is 45 minutes further south. The proximity of Mont-Ventoux as well as the Rhone Valley vineyards between the Provencal Baronnies Regional Nature Park and the Lubéron mountains make this a much-appreciated holiday haven.
The rendering on the east-facing facade, marking the external limit of the town, has been completely removed so as to expose the lime-pointed, small, roughly hewn, limestone blocks. Old crow and dove-holes arranged at varying heights have been meticulously enhanced. The modern windows are discreet, ensuring that the facade keeps its fortified appearance, barely disturbed by two narrow, recessed terraces, on a level with the old wall-walk. The house looks completely different on the other side as the fully rendered, west-facing facade features numerous windows with an unobstructed view over the inner courtyard.
The house in the ramparts
This house appears to follow the contour of the rampart and yet it is composed of two distinct sections, clearly defined in the interior layout of its levels and rooms. The southern section extends parallel to the fortified line, whilst the other meets it at right angles and extends northwards along the inner courtyard. Both sections are connected via a stairway with a difference of a half-floor between them on each level. The recent roofing framework has united both sections of the house under a single gable roof. The north-west quarter is extended to include the right-angle of the northern section.
A corridor runs from the door set in the rampart alongside a first room, laid out as an open-plan kitchen, and leads to vast dining room. The latter is illuminated on the east side by three narrow windows, resembling contemporary loop-holes. Continuing towards the middle of the house, the corridor comes to a landing, illuminated by a glazed door, opening on to the courtyard. It gives access to the stairway, going to the floors, as well as to a vast, vaulted living room, featuring several openings, overlooking the courtyard, the widest one of which is extended by a tall atrium. This room, with a fireplace, still has an outstanding wall hewn in the rock. A laundry room as well as a separate toilet complete the rooms on the ground floor.
Laid out in the northern section of the house, this level comprises two adjoining rooms, with a bathroom and a separate toilet. It is illuminated on the east side via an opening in the rampart and on the west side, in the second room, via a small opening looking down on to the courtyard. The floors are covered with travertine stone and the walls soberly covered with a sandy-coloured rendering.
The landing provides access to a 2-roomed suite, laid out above the living room. With a bathroom and a separate toilet, they are illuminated via two tall windows in the courtyard facade, one of which is a French window opening on to a little terrace above the atrium.
This level comprises a bedroom, with a bathroom and a separate toilet. Said bedroom opens on to one of two small recessed terraces corresponding to the old wall-walk on the top of the rampart. The original materials, such as old red terracotta floor tiles, lime-rendering and high ceilings featuring exposed joists with plaster interjoist filler, have been preserved.
The second floor on the southern section of the house is laid out under the rafters as a vast room divided by a wall in line with the truss separating the bedroom from the bathroom with its adjoining separate toilet. The floors are covered with terracotta tiles and the west, exposed stone wall is cleverly enhanced by the two whitewashed, panelled slopes of the roofing framework. This room also gives access to the wall-walk, converted into a covered terrace, providing a view over the countryside and Mont-Ventoux.
The same roofing framework covering the entire house, this top level has been laid out under the rafters, just like the second floor. A landing room precedes a vast bedroom, with a bathroom and separate toilet, half a floor down in the extension of the roof covering the right-angle formed by the north-east section of the house.
Laid out in tiers and planted with Mediterranean species, this garden-courtyard conceals an infinity swimming pool. A terrace on the north side, reached via a metal spiral stairway, adjoins a solarium, topped with an elegant zinc roof and resembling a folly or a gazebo.
Whilst restoration works that exaggerate or deny the character of a building are quite common, those carried out on this house, set in the ramparts of Beaumes-de-Venise, are exemplary and can but be praised. Furthermore, this success has included modern-day home comforts in the midst of this “Bethlehem of Provence”, to cite the title of the television film made in the neighbouring caves by Jean-Prat in 1960. This land, made a Duchy by Pope Pius VI and long part of the Papal States, successfully resisted the Protestant intrusions. Behind its walls, an unpretentious Provencal spirit lives on, somewhat sheltered from the sullied Provence further to the south. Here, wine and olives take pride of place and the surrounding illustrious vineyards (Vacqueyras, Château-Neuf-du-Pape) make the perfect neighbours to those with AOC Côtes-de-Provence appellation.
|Land registry surface area||268 m2|
|Main building surface area||350 m2|
Ménélik Plojoux +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.