Spring Renovation, Construction & Living

 

Renovation…

 

As The Tarn prepares for the sun basking spring months, the renovation of the belle époque chateau at La Durantie is  underway. In order to achieve the desired elegant interior design, some unwanted aspects of the chateau are currently being removed to open-up the bar area and entrance to the chateau. The cellar will then be damp proofed by digging around the whole exterior of the chateau and replacing the front steps with new stone steps.

 

The building will preserve its original parquet flooring, conserving the high-quality design found in many other French chateaus of this Belle Époque period. In order to keep the flooring intact the ceilings underneath will be removed and then reinforced.  Additionally, in certain areas of the chateau the flooring will need to be reinforced to accommodate for the number of people expected to make use of the chateau’s facilities.

 

The chateau will be the heart of La Durantie’s country club, drawing in residents and members from the surrounding area to share stories over a meal, attend courses and events, and simply relax in a friendly atmosphere. The spring months will call people outside for walks through the Country Club’s wildflower meadows and winding pathways, or to share an aperitif on the chateau’s very own terraces.

 

 

Construction…

 

In the chateau grounds, the first two houses have walls up and roofs on with with just the terracotta tiles to be added. The dry sunny weather has made working conditions more pleasant, whilst the environmental agencies are continuously working hard to conserve the area’s biodiversity, removing any stray frogs from the site and re-housing where necessary.

 

Irises in full bloom at La Durantie

 

Living…

 

With an average of 2,000 hours of sunshine per year, the Midi-Pyrénées is one of the sunniest regions in France. Spring comes particularly early to the Tarn, offering abundant sunshine and double figure temperatures from mid-March onwards.  The rolling hillsides of The Tarn will soon be covered in a blanket of fuchsia pink and purple blossom, providing the perfect opportunity for walks and cycling through the many bastide villages and vineyards of the Tarn.

 

With the arrival of better weather and longer days, The Tarn will soon be exuberant with village festivals and other spring events. The ‘omelette festival’ in the nearby village Larroque took place on Easter Monday and is a fun annual local event if you like to try something different! An annual flower show is also taking place on the 15th May in Sorèze called ‘Art et passion au jardin’, showcasing a variety of small flowers, rosebushes and aromatic plants. The town of Sorèze sits between the Canal du Midi and the Montagne Noire, offering breathtaking views of the surrounding countryside at this time of year. Whilst there, make sure to visit the magnificent “Abbaye-école”, a former royal military school under Louis XVI which once welcomed some very prestigious names.

 

Aerial view of Sorèze, © tourisme-tarn.com

 

Another exciting event taking place in May is the Toulouse International Art Festival, a completely free festival, bringing you the very best of the contemporary creative art scene from France and abroad. Painting, sculpture, photography, video, performances, choreography and silent films with musical accompaniment will take place in some twenty locations around the centre of Toulouse. The venues can also be visited at night, guided by the beautiful city lights.

 

La Place du Capitole at night, Toulouse

 

As you can see The Tarn has plenty to offer during the spring months. Keep checking our blog for upcoming events and exciting developments at La Durantie or follow us on Twitter @ChateauDurantie and like our Facebook page La Durantie.


Ryanair Introduces New Stansted Flights to Toulouse as it Becomes Capital of New “Super Region”

 

Soon after France announced its reshuffle of new administrative regions, Ryanair introduces a daily service from Stansted to Toulouse Blagnac to take effect in November 2016.  On 1st January France’s 22 regions were reduced to 13. The Midi-Pyrénées is henceforth joined by Languedoc-Roussillon, with Toulouse taking-over Montpellier’s title as the capital of this new “super region”.

 

New flight routes are an indicator of increased visitor numbers to a region and often followed by a surge of interest in holiday home ownership.  The new affordable flight route thus bodes well for La Durantie, a historic chateau development situated near Albi in the Tarn department, just 50 minutes (84 km) from Toulouse. With three different airline providers now offering services from London airports to Toulouse Blagnac, the neighbouring rural areas of Cathar country are likely to come onto the radar of more British Francophiles.

 

Cordes Sur Ciel © CDT TARN Laurent Frezouls

 

The newly merged region will soon boast combined economic prosperity as both Midi-Pyrénées and Languedoc-Roussillon are leaders in research and innovation; specialising in aeronautics, space, agriculture and health. Toulouse is home to France’s pioneering aerospace industry, including the global leader Airbus Group and the country’s fastest-growing population, so it is no surprise ‘La Ville Rose’ has been elected the new regional capital.

 

Place du Capitole, Toulouse

 

Steeped in culture and history, this new region encompasses some of France’s “Grandes Sites” including the Cité de Carcasonne, the episcopal city of Albi (UNESCO World Heriatge Site) built around the original cathedral, the Gorges du Tarn and the Gorges du Gardon. It is expected that the eventual name, to be determined in 2016, will be “Occitanie”, a historical reference to varieties of Occitan spoken in both regions until the nineteenth Century, with the language still in use in some villages today.

 

Albi © Grands Sites MP D VIET

 

The master plan and architecture of La Durantie is inspired by the authentic village-style found in nearby Castelnau-de-Montmiral and throughout the surrounding region.  Designs feature gentle sloping terracotta rooftops, with the houses picking up colours of the sand and limestone used to build 17th Century farm buildings. Homes are being built on different levels in order to create realistic, staggered rooftop heights, as little hamlets are terraced into a south facing gentle slope.   Combining the best of old with new, top quality modern interiors provide luxurious comfort and each home will have its own landscaped private garden and pool.

 

Castlenau de Montmiral © Tarn Tourisme Frezouls

 

Keep checking our blog for news on The Tarn and build at La Durantie, or follow us on Twitter @ChateauDurantie and like our Facebook page La Durantie.


First terracotta rooftop homes in progress

 

The first hamlet of four to six vernacular holiday homes is currently taking shape at La Durantie. The hamlets have been designed to draw neighbours outside to share an evening drink or meal on their spacious homes during the many sunny days in the Mediterranean. With the slabs now laid on five houses, the foundations are well underway for the first mini hamlet. The walls and roofs are due to be added in March, and the overall completion of the first five houses anticipated in May.

 

The homes at La Durantie will be crafted out of a blend of the best local materials such as stone, terracotta, limestone and wood. Each owner has selected from the choice of three colours of terracotta tiles, giving hamlets the varied tone seen in the nearby villages of Castelanu de Montmiral and Cordes-sur-ciel. The houses are to be built on different levels, terraced into the gentle rising hill in order to create a cascading rooftop effect. This will give privacy and views of the surrounding area to individual properties as much as possible, allowing residents to enjoy uninterrupted views across rolling hills, vineyards and expansive woodland.

 

 

As build of the first five houses continues, the excavation of the brasserie on the ground floor of the chateau is also in progress. Additionally, the developers at La Durantie have been working with two top local chefs to ensure spaces and appliances in the restaurant’s kitchen are fully functional, within the necessary constraints of a 19th century Chateau. Residents will be able to dine on the large outdoor terrace overlooking the pool and gardens, or at a unique glass table through which they can peer down into what was once the château’s well. Here, they can sample some of the best and most inventive dishes from local chefs in the Tarn region accompanied with fine wines from France and beyond, including wine from La Durantie’s own vineyard.

 

 

The houses at La Durantie will also come with efficient rainwater management. Natural practices will minimise the risk of storm events like those seen in the UK in recent months and provide superb water quality for residents. A system of natural ditches connected to the development and a nearby retention lake will allow rainwater to soak away at a natural rate rather than impacting the new homes and leaving the nearby flora unaffected. Unlike other residential developments La Durantie will not have any deep boreholes which often take surface water pollutants into the aquifers. Instead there will be three wells on site with superb water quality and the water quality in connecting rivers will also be carefully monitored.

 

With all in-hand owners can rediscover ‘L’Art de Vivre’ and appreciate why France is still the world’s top holiday destination. Keep checking our blog to keep track of the exciting developments at La Durantie, or follow us on Twitter @ChateauDurantie and like our Facebook page La Durantie.


Vous immerger dans un mélange de cultures et de langues à la Durantie

Le Country Club

 

Le château « Belle Époque »  de la Durantie va devenir le centre de la vie sociale de ce programme immobilier de luxe en devenant le Country Club. Il sera un lieu de rendez-vous, d’échanges et d’apprentissage pour les résidents mais également pour les visiteurs de tous les endroits de la région.

 

Les membres de toutes nationalités pourraient faire connaissance autour d’une activité commune ou sport, tels que le tennis, la poterie, et le volleyball. Le Country Club permettra également à tous les membres de profiter des événements, tels que  cours d’apprentissage de cuisine  et de partager des anciennes recettes paysannes accompagnées de dégustation des vins locaux. A la fin de la journée, le bistrot offrira une belle occasion de vous détendre et de faire la conversation à d’anciens et à de nouveaux amis autour d’un verre ou d’un repas.

 

Les Pyrénées

 

Ces nouveaux amis pourraient profiter des voyages locaux organisés par l’équipe de gestion, vers les terrains de golf, les monuments historiques et les villages voisins. Les voyages vers les villes et les régions plus éloignées seront également organisés, tels que la journée au bord de la la Méditerranée ou séjour de ski dans les Pyrénées.

 

Le Country Club donnera l’occasion pour les membres de toutes nationalités de partager leurs traditions et leurs cultures. Par exemple les résidents Britanniques peuvent découvrir « la soupe à l’ail de Lautrec », et les français peuvent découvrir le plat anglais, « Shepherd’s Pie ».

 

Les terrains du domaine seront idéaux pour les promenades d’hiver avec de nouveaux amis, alors que l’on peut profiter des longues randonnés dans la Forêt de la Grésigne, couvrant près de cent hectares de nature intacte et sauvage. On peut également découvrir la forêt à cheval et prendre des cours d’équitation avec des chevaux dans les écuries des proches environs.

 

Visitez régulièrement notre blogue pour vous tenir au courant des grandes nouvelles à la Durantie ou suivez-nous sur Twitter  @ChateauDurantie  et consultez notre page Facebook La Durantie.


Good Foundations!

Above: Laying the foundations of the first 10 houses at La Durantie

 

As the sun continues to shine in the Tarn with temperatures in double figures, work continues in earnest at La Durantie. Foundations are currently being laid and the completion of the first 10 houses is on track for the early spring of 2016.

 

The foundation preparation for each house is very intricate in order to build the houses on different levels and achieve a similar style of nearby villages, such as Cordes-sur-ciel and Castelanu de Montmiral.

 

Above: Choosing lining colours for the pool

 

Keep checking our blog to keep track of the exciting developments at La Durantie, or follow us on Twitter @ChateauDurantie and like our Facebook page La Durantie.


An owner’s perspective

 

Jan Lawson, who recently reserved a 2 bedroom house at La Durantie, gives an account of what attracted her to the luxury chateau development and the Tarn region of France.

 

“For me, the thing that sets La Durantie apart from other properties is the onsite facilities and the management team. Everything is taken care of while you are away by the onsite management and the English speaking staff are on hand to help you during your stay. This provides a safety net and removes the worry of owning a holiday home abroad where you don’t speak the local language.”

 

“La Durantie appealed to me because you can choose a house that is manageable in size but comes with extensive leisure facilities and beautiful large grounds that you wouldn’t normally have access to on a single plot. It has all the things you would enjoy about owning a big house, but without the upkeep.”

 

 

“The leisure facilities at La Durantie really appealed to me as it extends the appeal of the development beyond the summer months. It means that my home is more than just a holiday home, as I have access to everyday activities, such as swimming and making use of the gym. Having leisure facilities onsite is a key attraction for me as these help drive rentals and return on investment.”

 

“I plan on gradually increasing the time I spend at my holiday home, as my workload gradually winds down. I will start by just spending a few weeks a year there, with the plan to gradually start spending more and more time there as the years go by.”

 

“I am buying through the leaseback system which requires our home to be included in the rental pool for a set number of weeks per year and entitles me to a 20% VAT reduction on the sales price. This makes the cost of owning a property on a high-end development in France more attractive and good value for money as it covers my management costs for the year.”

 

“I have happily owned a time share in the Lake District for 13 years now, called Underscar, situated in the grounds of a manor house, and with its very own red squirrel sanctuary on the estate. It is very similar to La Durantie as it also comes with on-site leisure facilities and on-site management. Having been so satisfied with Underscar’s on-site management and leisure facilities, I was immediately attracted to La Durantie.”

 

 

“The Tarn was attractive to me because it sits within a dramatic landscape without being extreme. I enjoy visiting the many bastide towns all within striking distance of each other, and exploring the local French markets. I always manage to find something new and interesting when visiting the Tarn. La Durantie’s location was a key factor in my decision making as it offers stunning views of rolling hills and vineyards from your very own home.”

 

“I was particularly attracted to the Tarn because there are fewer British expats than other areas such as the Dordogne, and instead much more opportunity to integrate with the locals and experience the real France.”

 

Keep checking our blog to keep track of the exciting developments at La Durantie, or follow us on Twitter @ChateauDurantie.


Build continues in an area of outstanding natural beauty

 

La Durantie sits in an environmentally protected area surrounded by beautiful rolling countryside and between two of the most beautiful villages in France, Puycelsi and Castelnau-de-Montmiral. It is one of very few developments in France to receive a permit to build in an area of such outstanding natural beauty and the developers strive to conserve this area’s rich biodiversity.

 

 

Castelnau-de-Montmiral market, 5 minutes from La Durantie

 

Whilst construction continues at La Durantie, all is done correctly according to environmental regulations to make sure that every bird, Caterpillar, and orchid is logged and “rehomed where necessary”. Residents will be able to enjoy the diversity of flora and fauna found at La Durantie by getting involved in a variety of “back to nature” activities right on their doorstep. Sit in your garden and listen to the beautiful sound of the nearby deer mating calls, go wild mushroom foraging in the adjacent Grésigne forest, or simply sit back and enjoy the awe-inspiring views of the surrounding countryside.

 

 

With the autumn sun continuing to shine in the Tarn, weather conditions are set to be perfect to complete the foundations of the first 10 houses at La Durantie, keeping it on track for its first homes in early spring 2016. Keep checking our blog to keep track of the exciting developments at La Durantie, or follow us on Twitter @ChateauDurantie.


Top Tips For Brits Moving To France

Jeanne Boden, Sales Director at La Durantie offers some tips and advice from her 19 years living in The Tarn in South West France with her family of four.  Her experience as Sales Director at La Durantie – a historic chateau development with 57 new build homes on the estate, means she has personally spoken to many British second home seekers.  She has a good knowledge of their concerns and frequently asked questions.

 

Here are Jeanne’s latest top tips for anyone moving to France:

 

1. The paperwork – be prepared to be patient as the administrative system is a lot slower in France than in England.  Original copies are required for all documentation whether for a mobile phone or insurance and it is often quite difficult to get things done over the phone or online.

 

If you are renting a house you need to ensure you have a contract in French even if you are renting from British owners.  Also, some utility bills in your own name will be required to show proof of residency for car insurance etc.

 

2. Getting connected to TV and WIFI - nowadays the first essential requirement is WIFI and internet.  Check whether your property has “haut debit” or high speed broadband (at Durantie this is all handled for you).

 

Firstly you need a France Telecom line installed in your own name.  If you are buying a house that is not part of a managed resort, your previous owners must close down all their contracts with utilities before you are able to install your own.  This is still done by letter, so there can be delays.

 

There are four main service providers with different packaged deals and can include your French mobile phone should you opt for this, when choosing your live box.  The average price is 30€ per month for unlimited broadband with free calls to Europe and some TV included.

 

It is necessary to call the service providers by phone to purchase order your live box and set up a contract.  You will need to speak good French or find someone who can do this for you.

For British Satellite TV contact your local electrician.  He will be able to advise the correct installation for your satellites in order to pick up the essential UK channels.

 

If you are renting a house you need to ensure you have a contract in French even if you are renting from British owners.  Also, some utility bills in your own name will be required to show proof of residency for car insurance etc.

 

3. Rural banking – if you are moving to a rural area it is advisable to open a bank account in your nearest town.  It is much more straightforward for signing documents etc. if your branch is nearby.

 

4. Car insurance – if you are bringing your right hand drive UK car with you to France, you will need to get the car registered for France.  You have six months where you can still drive on UK licence plates and your UK insurance will cover you. Thereafter you are required to have a French vehicle registration document (“carte grise”) from your local administrative office (“prefecture”) in order to get French insurance.  This can be obtained in person or online.

 

5. Pets – If your dog or cat is moving with you, they will need to be micro – chipped and have up to date vaccinations.  Many rural places do not have fenced gardens so if your dog is likely to wander then it might be worth considering an underground electric perimeter fence line.  This is a harmless system that creates invisible boundaries for your pet through either a perimeter wire or wireless through radio or WiFi signals to their collar.

 

6. Income tax – seek advice from your UK accountant to ascertain whether you need a French accountant for your affairs when you become a resident in France.

 

7. Registering to vote – Once you are settled in your new home in France do not forget to pay a visit to the local Mairie (Mayor’s office) and let them know who you are. You are eligible to vote in local and European elections if you have EU nationality.

The mairie is the mayor of your village, town or city. They are an elected representative with a ‘direct line’ of communication to the decisions made locally, and are usually based in the town hall, which is likely to be one of the most impressive buildings in the town.

The role of the mairie in France is especially key in rural areas.  It is best to know what your local mairie will expect from you or be able to help you with. They will be able to advise on all administrative matters in your commune and if not can direct you to find the information you need.

 

8. FINALLY do learn French!!


Museums in the Tarn – a region steeped in history and culture

 

The Tarn is a region of France that is rich in both history and culture, demonstrated by the large variety of museums it has to offer. One of the most famous museums in the area, as mentioned in our blog post in April, is the Musée Toulouse-Lautrec in Albi (35 minutes from La Durantie), home to the largest collection of Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec’s work.  The museum has a new exhibition running up until the 3rd January, exhibiting some of the best photographs of Marilyn Monroe by the famous photographer Bert Stern.

 

Albi has also recently opened a fashion museum, Musée de la Mode, home to a private collection of clothes and accessories covering the period from the 18th century through to the 1970s. Each annual exhibition is selected to highlight a particular historical or creative theme, this year’s theme being black and white, ‘Noir sur Blanc’. The museum is open from Tuesday to Sunday from the 1st April to December 28th: 9.30am-12am and 2pm-6pm. The museum is set in a beautiful historical building with many architectural elements dating back to the 12th century such as a spiral staircase and splendid vault.

 

The region’s interesting history dates back to The Albigensian Crusade or Cathar Crusade (1209-1229), a 20 year long military campaign led by Pope Innocent III to eliminate Catharism. During this crusade, the Cathars conquered many of the splendid fortifications and castles that are a major attraction in the area today, such as the beautiful fortified towns of Puycelsi(12 minutes from La Durantie).

 

 

The Musée du Catharisme in Mazamet (about an hour from La Durantie), in the heart of the Montagne Noir and the Cathar region, provides an in-depth portrayal of the Cathar tragedy. The museum is located on the second floor of the Office du Tourisme in a beautiful 19th century mansion, on Rue des casernes. The museum is open from 10:00 am-05:00 pm Tuesdays to Saturdays throughout October, and closed for two hours over lunch between 12 and 2. Whilst you’re there make sure to visit the nearby village of Hautpoul, and see the remains of the castle that was besieged by Simon de Montfort during the Cathar crusade.

 

Château de Mauriac (25 minutes from La Durantie) is a breathtaking Templar castle, classed as one of the 50most beautiful buildings in France for art and decor and with a 1 Michelin star rating. Located in Senouillac, between Albi and Cordes-sur-ciel, the castle is a very short distance from la Durantie. Take a stroll around the beautiful grounds and marvel at the stunning art work inside. The château is open every day for visitors over the summer period (unless stated otherwise), from 3:00 pm-6:00 pm. An adult ticket costs 7 euros, and a child ticket costs 4 Euros.

 

 

The town of Gaillac, only 15 minutes from la Durantie, has 3 different museums to offer, Musée de l’Abbaye, Musée des Beaux-Arts and Muséum d’Histoire Naturelle. On the first three Thursdays of each month the museums offer a pause café, pause musée system from 12.45pm to 2pm for €2.50. It is a quick and cheap option with a guided tour of the museum of your choice followed by a cup of coffee. Musée de l’Abbaye focuses on the history of wine growing and production in the area, whilst Musée des Beaux-Arts portrays the works of some famous painters from the area, including Jules Cavalliès and Raymond Tournon.

 

 

As you can see, the Tarn certainly has a lot to offer when it comes to museums. Make sure to follow us on twitter @ChateauDurantie and on pinterest for more suggestions of interesting things to do in the area.


Le Terroir de Tarn

 

As the hot September sun continues to shine in the Tarn, construction continues at full speed at La Durantie. Terracing is now complete for the foundation preparation of plots 1-6, including the private pool areas of plots 3, 4 and 5 (as pictured above). These three plots will be part of a mini hamlet, made up of three-bedroom homes with ensuite bathrooms and a shared courtyard, La Cour Braucol which is one of the Gaillac grape varieties and coincidentally chosen for the house red this year.

 

 

Even as autumn approaches, the sunny days in the Tarn with temperatures still in the high 20s, will draw residents outside to their shared courtyards for al fresco lunches and evening drinks with their neighbouring friends. Whilst the homes’ individual courtyards will provide a secluded, private space where residents can relax and recharge in the autumn sun.

 

 

September is an important month for both La Durantie and the local area as it signals the start of the wine harvest.  With its own onsite colourful vines La Durantie is preparing for the harvest in full swing.  In the near future, homeowners will be able to taste wine made on their doorstep and enjoy picturesque views of the wine domain situated at the most southern part of the development.

 

 

The Tarn is the oldest wine-producing region in France and is acclaimed for the country’s finest reds whites and sparkling wines. Wine lovers can look forward to celebrations in nearby towns, offering their own ‘Fête des Vendanges’ (wine harvest celebrations), such as one taking place in Bruniquel on the 20th September.

As you can see September is an exciting month in the Tarn. Residents at La Durantie can enjoy the hot September weather, as well as benefiting from fewer crowds when visiting nearby sites. Keep checking our blog to keep track of the exciting developments at La Durantie, or follow us on Twitter @ChateauDurantie.