The Serres region in the Guyenne area dominates the Lot and the Garonne Valleys. The verdant landscape features hills and little valleys. This property stands on the outskirts of a village, with 280 inhabitants and a school, constructed on the edge of a rocky hillside, dominating the centuries old stone houses in the Lot Valley. The view stretches to the confluence of the river Lot with the river Garonne.
Up until the 19th century, a good red wine was produced here and exported to Bordeaux. But hazelnut trees are currently grown on these sunny slopes.
This residence dates from 1750. It was no doubt constructed on the vestiges of an older building as is proved by the masonry moats. Known as a chateau in the 18th century, it then belonged to one of the king’s grey musketeers.
In a quiet street, dominating the valley, two stone columns mark the entrance, concealed from view by the vegetation. A driveway leads to the parklands and the east facade of the house.
An impressive watch-tower, surrounded by a stone cornice for stopping raiders and windows with moulded cornices, faces the driveway. At its base is a stone arch. It is extended to the south by the vestiges of the stables and a bread oven. Set at right angles is a building featuring three arcades, the one through one of which provides a view of the countryside. This building was linked to the house via a barn which has been replaced by a swimming pool. Surrounded by old walls, bordered with oleander bushes, Florence cypress and olive trees, it brings Tuscany to mind.
The parklands are planted, as was customary in the 18th and 19th centuries, with beautiful trees selected for their foliage and their growth. Copses of bay leaf and boxwood trees form a sort of enclosure delimiting the garden. An orchard is included in the garden. It comprises an old Landes style henhouse supported on piles. Nearby is a French bowls pitch.
The north facade, looking down on the road the runs alongside the village, is quite classical. In the centre, the glazed French window, opening on to a balcony with balusters, is topped with a triangular pediment, featuring an oculus. Two tall, small-paned windows are on either side. The lower section, with its central door opening into the cellar, has continuous rusticated masonry. The colour of the stone used for construction is worthy of note: the village was built using stone from a local quarry, renowned for the superb clear hue of its slightly ochre coloured limestone.
The east facade opens on to the parklands via a French window set in a slight projection, flanked by two engaged columns. Three tall, small-paned windows are on the left and right-hand sides. Directly above, under the roof, small attic windows feature curved lintels. A wide, curved stairway goes down to a level covered in gravel, followed by the garden. The house has a second entrance on the west side. The street runs alongside the buildings to a carpark created on the grasslands above.
On the west side, a flight of steps leads to a porch way, paved with terracotta tiles, providing access to the entrance hall via a tall French window, the kitchen and the summer dining room.
The entrance hall, paved with Gironde stone tiles, houses the stairway which takes up its full width at the end. An almost contemporary air is exuded by its Provencal style wrought iron balusters and its Comblanchien stone steps.
On the left-hand side of the entrance hall, a wide gallery crosses the house. It has an east-west view of the valley and the parklands. Gironde stone floor tiles are laid in a refined geometric pattern and exposed stone forms the walls. It is separated into two sections by a partition with a French window and a glazed, fan-shaped tympanum, flanked by two small windows above a wide, masonry supported ledge. Moulded doors provide access to the bedrooms and the lounges. The east side of the gallery opens on to the parklands via a Directoire-style, glazed door. On either side are two corner cupboards.
A winter dining room on the west side of the gallery opens via double doors, on the north side, into a bedroom with a dominant view of the Lot Valley. It features a tall, small-paned window with a glazed fanlight, wide strip wooden flooring and a plaster ceiling. A straight, grey marble fireplace is topped with a mirror in a trumeau, featuring decorative fan-shaped plasterwork. On the east wall are a cupboard and the glazed door of a cloakroom. A door, on the north side, opens into a corridor. Opposite, on the other side of the corridor, is a large parents-children’s bedroom, divided by a half-partition wall. Two small-paned windows with fanlights look out over the valley. Between the two bedrooms, at the end of the corridor, is a shower room with a shower, a wash-hand basin and a toilet.
The second section of the through gallery provides access, on the north side, to a bedroom facing the parklands through two small-paned windows with glazed fanlights. It has a grey marble fireplace with a moulded mantel, wide strip wooden flooring and a plaster ceiling. The bed is set against the west wall, in an alcove between two glazed doors. A passageway, concealed behind this alcove, has two cupboards featuring moulded doors, and is used as a dressing room. A bedroom on the north-east side opens on to the corridor set at right angles which leads to a bathroom with a bath, a wash-hand basin, a toilet and painted wooden flooring.
On the east side is a bedroom looking out over the parklands, whilst on the north side is a small study opening on to a balcony on the north facade via a French window with a fan-shaped fanlight. It has wide strip wooden flooring.
Still in its second section, the through gallery opens, on the south side, into the large lounge via double doors. This room, exuding an air of the 19th century, has parquet flooring featuring a central inlaid star motif, a grey marble fireplace with a sculpted mantel and a moulded ceiling. Two arched windows open on to the parklands. There is wainscoting on the walls and carved wooden trumeaux are set above the doors facing one another.
The large lounge provides access to the little lounge in the south-east corner of the house. The walls in this room are completely covered with 18th century panelling, matching the carved wooden fireplace. As in the large lounge, the “capucine” wood has been left in its natural state. The parquet flooring is laid in a strip pattern. There are two windows, one overlooking the parklands and, the other, set at right angles, the terrace, extending the summer dining room. A large bookshelf is incorporated into the panelling on the west wall and a door communicates with the pantry, buffered between the small lounge and the kitchen. The pantry, with its large central table used for serving breakfast, has terracotta floor tiles and opens on the south side, via a narrow French window with a fanlight, on to the terrace in front of the summer dining room. A door on the west side opens into the kitchen. A storeroom on the north side houses a deepfreeze and cupboards.
The vast kitchen is laid out between the entrance hall and the summer dining room. It is fitted with a central island unit. The hob is set against the east wall whilst two sinks are on the west and the east walls. The floor is laid with sandstone tiles in the same manner as the terracotta ones. It has a window and a French window, on the west side, opening on to a small patio, vestige of an older building with an old stone sink and the remains of a fireplace with its bread oven intact. A French window on the south side opens into the large summer dining room. This vast room opens on to the terrace via the two atrium windows that replaced the barn doors. It is, therefore, steeped in light. The floor is laid with large tiles in the same manner as the terracotta ones. A large stone fireplace adorns the south wall. A door on the west side opens on to a stone stairway, leading to a mezzanine, in use as a storeroom, and to the upstairs games room. On the same wall, level with the ground, two large, glazed arcade openings provide light for the basement, in use as a storeroom. The third arcade is closed, forming a recess where pottery is exhibited.
The stairway, housed in the entrance hall, goes up to a vast landing and a corridor, with a central stone archway. The floor is covered with sisal matting. On the east side are four bedrooms, all with a view of the parklands. The first, at the end of the corridor, has a French window opening on to a balcony with balusters, strip pattern wooden flooring and exposed stone walls; the wooden roofing framework is also exposed. On one side of the entrance lobby is a shower room, with a shower and a wash-hand basin, whilst on the other side is a toilet.
The second bedroom has a sloping ceiling, sisal floor matting and but one window overlooking the parklands. Once again, the entrance lobby has been fitted with a shower room, with a shower and a wash-hand basin, on one side, and a toilet, on the other.
The two following bedrooms, opening into a vestibule with sisal floor matting, form a small flat or a master suite. The first has a window overlooking the parklands and the second, bigger bedroom has one window overlooking the parklands and another, on the south side, looking down on the terrace and the summer dining room. The vestibule provides access to a separate toilet and a shower room with a shower and a wash-hand basin, with grey laminate floor tiles. A large bathroom, with two wash-hand basins, a bath and grey laminate floor tiles, closes the landing. Next to the central landing, backing on to the bathroom is a shower room with a shower and a toilet.
On the west side, opening on to the corridor, is a child’s bedroom with, in the entrance lobby, two alcoves facing one another, both fitted with a wide wash-hand basin. It has a window overlooking the valley. It is followed by two bedrooms opening on to the landing. One has two windows and the other just one. Both rooms have cupboards.
The corridor, which extends to the south, leads to a linen room, with a west-facing window, and to a large games room, spanning the same floor surface area as the summer dining room on the ground floor. This area has enormous character courtesy of its exposed wooden roofing framework. A stairway in the south-west corner goes down to the summer dining room.
This floor has exposed stone walls throughout, the corridors are covered with sisal matting and the rooms have laminated wood flooring.