The History of Château de la Durantie

 

It is believed that Château de la Durantie dates back as far as the 13th century. The first official information was that La Durantie came under the ownership of a large landholding by the Comte de Toulouse, during the 13th century. At that time the domaine was part of a farming and wine producing area and there is a record of 600 casks of wine being sent to England via the fast flowing River Tarn. It would therefore seem that visits by the English started as early as the 13th century.

 

The central chateau and farm buildings are 17th century built of pale limestone with two circular towers housing the spiral staircases. A key architectural influence occurred in 1887 when the then Parisian owners – two spinster ladies visited the Italian Riviera and subsequently renovated the château to reflect the Italian Palazzos of the ‘belle époque’; adding tall windows with beautiful facings and exterior pink paintwork.  This example of more sophisticated French châteaux architecture was typical for the turn of the century.

 

 

The château has seen several owners but significantly, the Schwarzkopf family, famed for perfumes and beauty products, bought the château in the eighties and hosted wild parties but sold off some of the farming estate.  During the war the building was occupied by nuns and their peaceful influence can still be sensed when entering the château gates today.

 

The Tarn department was created during the French Revolution of 4th May 1790, and is steeped in history. La Durantie has gained a rare permit to build within this listed area – the neighbouring villages of Castelnau-de-Montmiral and Puycelsi are both categorised under the ‘Most Beautiful Villages of France’.

 

 

The farm now consists of 35 acres which will be used for the new chateau houses (7 acres) and a wonderful park and gardens for the remainder.

 

This winter vines are being reintroduced to the 15 hectare château estate, returning more of its heritage, and owners of the local French vernacular homes will be able to make the idyllic notion of drinking their own Gaillac wine whilst sitting on the terrace of their holiday home a reality.

 


The Most Popular Village In France

 

Cordes-sur-Ciel has been voted the ‘most popular French Village’, on a programme of the same name “Le Village Préféré Des Français”,broadcasted on the national TV channelFrance 2 on Tuesday 1st July. Voting is carried out by French national viewers, who choose their favourite village in France from a shortlist of 22.

 

Cordes-sur-Ciel, located in the Tarn department of the Midi-Pyrénées, is an architecturally stunning village perched on the top of a hill. Originally named “corte” meaning “rocky heights,” the village was later renamed “Cordes-sur-Ciel”, to indicate its height above the clouds over low-lying areas of the valley – as in a fairytale book!

 

Interestingly, the Midi-Pyrenees is the only department in France that had two villages listed in the competition, indicating the true magnificence of this region.  The fact that the listing is decided by the discerning French themselves serves as a goodguide for international tourists wishing to visit the ‘real France’anddiscover its natural beauty for themselves.

 

Two Brits who have done just thatare Jeanne and David Boden who moved to the region 17 years ago.  The Boden’s are now involved in helping to develop La Durantie, so that others like them can own-in and enjoy this beautiful region of France.  Just 22 km from Cordes Sur Ciel, the Chateau de la Durantie is currently being renovated into a country club & spa and vernacular style homes are being developed in the chateau grounds.

 

 

The Tarn is a quintessentially French rural region which is not as well-known as neighbouring Provence, but is much loved by a number of British expats who have stumbled upon it and then never left!  The elegant belle époque chateau at the heart of La Durantie is one of the region’s prized architectural possessions; it lies just 55 minutes north of Toulouse and close to the village of Castelnau-de-Montmiral in a landscape of rolling hills, vineyards and ancient hill-top towns.

 

Overlooking undulating vineyards and miles of dense oak forest, La Durantie will soon become home to 57 vernacular designed single and two storey one to five bedroom detached homes together with two styles of apartments with either 2 or 3 bedrooms.  In-keeping with the local villages, homes will be arranged in small clusters of approximately six homes with private spaces and landscaped internal courtyards.  Some homes will be stone faced and others will have the traditional render in soft hues bordered by local detailing in brick and stone whilst terracotta roof tiles will enhance the mellow and traditional character of the scheme.  Most homes will also have an ‘integrated’ private swimming pool set within the landscaped private gardens and the four apartments are clustered around a shared pool.

 

 

La Durantie will be in keeping with the vernacular-style of the local villages.

 

Having so many picturesque villages on the doorstep makes for perfect day trips for residents and guests at La Durantie should they ever tire of the magic of “Le Village Préféré Des Français”.


On your bike for Le Tour This July!

 

Running from Saturday July 5th to Sunday July 27th 2014, the 101st Tour de France is shortly upon us and cycling enthusiasts will be getting the opportunity once again to test their cycling legs from Leeds all the way to Paris, covering a distance of 3,656 km.

 

For the first time the ’Grand Depart’ will set-off from Harrogate in Leeds and will pass close to La Durantie as stage 16 reaches Carcassonne.

 

Each stage city will offer a range of activities to crowds, creating a fantastic atmosphere for everyone involved. In the UK free fan parks will be held, where spectators can watch the Tour de France live on the giant screen, follow the stage of the day, relive its highlights, and enjoy the festival atmosphere that the Tour brings.

 

 

For the French, the Tour is a national celebration and it is a great honour for the towns and cities that are chosen as host venues. Every year hundreds of thousands of spectators line the streets of every village, hamlet and roadside to be part of the festivities.

 

For those visiting La Durantie this July, the best place to soak up the atmosphere of the Tour de France, is the stunning town of Carcassonne, on the sixteenth stage of the Tour de France. Listed as a World Heritage Site, Carcassonne is one of France’s most dramatic cities, and offers a maze of old lanes and streets with a double protective medieval wall and a fortress with turrets looking out onto the River Aude. The city is located approximately an hour and a half drive away from La Durantie and also gives people the wonderful opportunity to discover Toulouse and the beautiful countryside en route, making for a lovely day out. There’s nothing quite like being in the medieval city watching the Tour de France roll by!

 

 

With the explosion of UK cycling, due to the successes of riders like Bradley Wiggins and Olympians Chris Hoy and Victoria Pendleton, this year’s Tour de France will create an influx of cycling activity and interest in the sport. Not only does cycling appeal to the younger generations, it is very common to see middle aged men in lycra on the roads too!

 

Given the varied Mediterranean landscape throughout France, it is a very popular destination for all levels of cyclists. Research carried out by The Tarn Tourist Board Research (2013) shows that the most popular pastime in the Tarn region is walking followed by VTT (Biking). Subsequently the Tarn Tourist Board are increasing the number of bike routes and walking routes around the Tarn tying in with hotels, wine tourism trails, heritage trails, and restaurants.

 

 

With its sleepy villages, meandering river and rolling hills, the stunning landscapes of the Tarn are ideal for exploration on two wheels. There are many different cycling routes on offer suitable for all abilities, whether you are an amateur or pro! Cyclists can travel through stunning vineyards, down wooded slopes, through tranquil villages, and along the quiet lanes on the river banks.

 

If you are cycling in the Castelnau area why not pop-in and see Jeanne Boden in the sales office for a cup of coffee and a quick tour of Chateau de La Durantie.  Visitors are always welcome!


Holiday Homes For UK Professionals

 

Helen (43 years) and David (46 years) Ponsford (married). The professional couple currently own and live in their flat in St Johns Wood (NW8). Helen originally is from Yorkshire and David is from Kent. Both works in IT- Helen is a Director at Microsoft and David is Director at Wonder Pl, a video start-up.

 

The Ponsfords had been looking for a holiday home for quite a time and have made many week end trips to the south of France searching for the right property.  Their search started on the Riviera but the couple found the prices too high for what they had in mind and so started looking further to the west, to Toulouse and the surrounding villages.  The properties here were in the right price bracket but then Helen and David began to doubt they could realistically cope with looking after a property overseas with their time challenged lifestyle and demanding jobs.  Therefore they turned their attention to the UK.

 

By chance, a short while later Helen saw an advert for La Durantie and immediately recognised The Tarn area in the south west that she and David had visited and loved.  She telephoned Jeanne Boden who is based onsite and chatted to her about the chateau development at La Durantie and soon all the setbacks previously anticipated with owning a holiday home abroad were answered.  Helen and David flew-out to see La Durantie site and to meet the development team and they are now happy owners of a 3 bedroom property (Le Castelnau – €491,920/approx. £404,100), which is one of the first ten properties to start construction in April.

 

Rental return was not a key reason for the Ponsfords purchasing at La Durantie, but as the Management Team offer a ‘check-in and check-out ‘ service for rentals, they have decided to put their new home into the rental programme.  This means it doesn’t matter if they decide not to visit so frequently one year – there will be no pressure!

 

Helen says: “We went through quite a big change in thinking as we were originally looking for a romantic, independent property before realising that buying a second home with a fully managed rental suits our lifestyles much better as we will be able to ‘lock-up and leave’ the property with no hassle.  We anticipate we might use our new home for a 2 week summer holiday per year as well as numerous week-end breaks and probably Christmas too.  We are also looking forward to inviting our families to enjoy some time with us in France and it is good that the Country Club and Spa extends the season – I can imagine chilling-out in the spa with a girlfriend in February or so.  Visiting as often as we wish should be easy as BA flies from London to Toulouse and there are numerous flights to choose from.”

 

Helen likes the fact that the Country Club will have a bar and restaurant as the rural area is very quiet.  She is also looking forward to making the most of the local food markets and vineyards in the region, especially as she finds the Gaillac wine really good quality and inexpensive.  
The couple is happy that the style of their new home is in-keeping with the local style villages and arranged in small clusters with a sense of their own community.

 

If you choose to include this information please include www.durantie.com / Tel: +33 (0)6 15 54 33 13


Wellness Travel Is ‘Up’ & High-Tech Spa Is ‘In’

 

According to the 2014 Virtuoso Luxe Report, spa and wellness travel is constantly expanding and totals 14% of world tourism expenditure, which is forecasted to grow 9% annually through to 2017 (50% faster than regular tourism). Spas are no longer perceived as an added bonus to a resort, instead they are now looked upon as a standard facility, where quality and excellence is expected. The high-tech spa within the chateau country club at La Durantie, is set to make it an ideal country retreat destination for tourists.

 

La Durantie highly values the importance of a spa and planned a state-of-the- art facility at the heart of the resort making it the first of its kind in the region and likely to attract mini-break visitors from Toulouse (50 minutes away) as well as overseas guests that are seeking a stylish and relaxed country retreat in a designated area of outstanding natural beauty. In recognition, La Durantie has been awarded World’s Best Leisure Development 2013-14.

 

 

The spa at La Durantie, located only a stone’s throw away from property owners’ homes, will occupy the château’s magnificent 17th century barn, which will be renovated with high windows to let in plenty of light, while retaining many of the original features such as exposed beams and original stonework.  Spa facilities will include four swimming pools – indoor and outdoor, saunas, a mud house, hydrotherapy pool, treatment rooms and a relaxation room. Throughout much of the spa, guests will be able to enjoy stunning views of the estate’s woodlands and château’s lush gardens. A particular highlight will include a large sun deck, accessed by enormous glass doors, which will have a spectacular view across a wildflower meadow, looking down to a natural ‘eco’ swimming pool.

 

Located in the Tarn region of the Midi-Pyrenees in France, La Durantie makes the perfect choice for those looking for a first or second home.  The outdoor nature of this part of The Tarn in the south west of France means there is also no end of activities which promote health and well-being just beyond the gates of La Durantie. During the warmer months, cycling, fishing, horse riding, hiking and kayaking – a particular highlight being the gentle rapids at the Gorges du Tarn – are all popular pursuits in the area. During the winter months, skiing at Ax-Les-Thermes is popular and only half an hour away.

 

 

The regions abundance of year round attractions, coupled with onsite enticing facilities including a country club and state of the art spa not only make La Durantie a fantastic place for second home owners to holiday, but also drives a return on investment through villa rentals throughout the year.

 

Prices start at €333,250 (approx. £273,800) for a 2 bed and rising to €791,630 (approx. £654,709) for a 5 bed home.

 

*All prices are nett (after VAT refund) and a mandatory annual charge includes management charge and country club membership.


Springtime In The Tarn

 

“Where has winter gone? Spring is now here”

 

Well, I have been having those lovely glasses of Gaillac wine in front of the fire and indeed outside. Winter has been so mild………….. Where has the time gone? We are in  March and another lovely sunny day, although we had some rain in February but fortunately nothing like those in the West Country in the UK; our thoughts are with all those having to deal with the ordeal of the floods in the UK.

 

 

We have had some super days skiing in the Pyrenees mountains and as mentioned in a previous newsletter, being so close, we can always check on the weather and if it’s sunny we go and it isn’t we don’t – simple!!  Have a look at these wonderful pictures of Ax Les Thermes which is only an hour and a half from Durantie.  My daughter left the house at 6.30am and was on the slopes at 9.00am and was back home by 7.30 in the evening having had a delightful day on the slopes.  Of course if you want to go slightly further afield then Baqueira just across the Spanish border is a more extensive resort and is still only three hours from Durantie – we tend to stay in one of the villages below the resort and enjoy the Spanish hospitality of tapas and gorgeous Riojas from which there are some 1500 to choose – the hotels are very reasonably priced at €45 a night; a totally different culture, a matter of a few hours from our door step!

 

 

We’ve been enjoying our “fizz on Fridays” with all our mates here getting together for a spontaneous few glasses of “fizz” which is made locally, method Gaillacois.

 

We’ve just had a most relaxing and very French Sunday lunch time in one of the local bars in Gaillac which typifies this area, a warm welcome and a couple of hours of banter over several plates of oysters, bought freshly from the market and opened by the barman, served with a local crisp chardonnay and the topics of conversation ranging from the local elections to who played well in which match of the Six Nations – the French equivalent to a “pint and a sandwich” in your local but with sunshine!

 

We had several clients over the winter and have been delighted at the number of reservations we have taken.  Everyone who visits for the first time cannot believe how lovely it is here , even in winter – they have a real treat in store when spring does come!

 

 

The Six Nations has been interesting this year, and having been fortunate enough to go to the France v England game at the start of the tournament, a friend of mine and I took advantage of the very frequent and extremely reasonable airfares from Toulouse to Paris.  Soon we’ll be able to travel to Paris on the TGV in two and half hours, such is the connectivity of the Tarn!  We didn’t get the result we wanted but a good comprise for those of us who support Stade Toulouse was that the three French tries were all scored by Stade Toulouse players Huget and Fickou – “allez les rouge et noir”!!

 

We will be putting diggers on the ground in April, such has been the progress we’ve made with reservations which is very pleasing and everyone is very excited at the prospect.

 

 

We’ve just launched the Durantie wine and very drinkable it is too……with the very distinctive turquoise duck gracing each bottle, we’re thrilled with it – come and see us and do some tasting!  There are several different  cepages which are unique to Gaillac, this ancient  of wine regions: Our Durantie white is a Mauzac Sauvignon blend and the red Cabernet Duras.

 

 

And for those of you that perhaps might enjoy some retail therapy when the weather is not quite at its best, then do as my wife and daughter have done and venture forth to Toulouse and give the “credit card” a good “seeing to” whether it is ZARA or GEORGE REICH – all the major brands are here –   with bags galore  reward yourself with lunch in one of the many delightful restaurants like Capoul, Pere Louis or just a mouthful of beautifully fresh sea food in the Victor Hugo market in the centre of Toulouse.

 

Anyway, winter is very much over with cowslips, violets and primroses adorning the roadsides.  Next week we have temperatures up in the 20C so leaves will be bursting forth.  It is a super time of year.  Please come and see us.

 

With best wishes to all.


Tips for Retirees Moving to The Tarn

 

An important factor on the minds of most retirees when seeking a property overseas is the healthcare provision available and the convenience of this.  The World Health Organisation (WHO) in its last World Health report 2000 ranked France as the first in the world for healthcare, followed by Italy.  Here, Jeanne Boden, Team Manager and Director of La Durantie offers some tips and advice from her 18 years living in The Tarn in South West France with her family of four and shares her good experience of the local healthcare system.

 

“My experience with our family of four has been exceptional over the last 18 years living in the Tarn.  We are fortunate in Castelnau de Montmiral to have three wonderful GP’s, four community nurses, a physiotherapist and a pharmacy who really know all their patients in the old fashioned way – it is a community of 1,000 people but with access to Albi and Toulouse for specialists and consultants. 

 

“If you are a UK pensioner or currently paying NI contributions it is important to realise that you are entitled to reciprocal French healthcare which is excellent.

 

“Take the precaution to obtain your S1 certificate from HMRC as soon as you know your French address and from when you will be living there full time. This can take 2-3 months to obtain so plan ahead!

 

“Once you have this form send or take it to your local Caisse Primaire Assurance Maladie or CPAM in France.  They will then process you a ‘carte vitale’ which is a green ‘credit card’ with your photo and French social security number.  Keep this card with you at all times as it is swiped for any medical care you receive anywhere in France.  This covers 60-70% of any bill and prescription.  (A visit to your GP is currently 23€).
“It is up to you if you then wish to choose a top-up insurance, or ‘Mutual’ to cover the shortfall.  For this, shop around a bit with insurance companies to get the right type of cover for yourself.  For example if you are likely to need a lot of eye or dental treatment, make sure this is listed in the cover.

 

“The French take great care of themselves and do not hesitate to visit the surgery or even emergency services if it is out of hours!  In France when you go for an X-ray, scan or blood tests, you are responsible for your documents and carry them to your various consultants, which means the consultants have instant access to your files because it is you bringing them in.

 

“In rural areas and medium size towns generally you’re dealt with very quickly – test results are received within 24 hours and X-rays and scans handed out half an hour after they are done. – Nurses do house visits for routine dressings and injections on their rounds, but you are responsible for buying all the vaccines or bandages, so when the nurse visits a person they have the equipment and prescriptions already ordered.”

 

The chateau country club, spa and new homes that form La Durantie have been planned particularly with active retirees in mind.  British award winning Developer Tony Dowse of Environ Communities (www.environcommunities.com) is also the Master Planner behind La Durantie who is renovating and developing the historical belle époque style chateau and 15 hectare estate.  He has designed the development to suit a ‘new breed’ of retirees, more of which are finding themselves single in their latter years. “With the downsizing trend looking set to continue, there is a gap in the market for active retirees who are not ready for a retirement home but would enjoy a level of social interaction in a like-minded and cultured community.  Hence we have not merely renovated this belle époque chateau and chopped it up into flats but have turned it into a country club at the social heart of the development for all to appreciate and enjoy,” explains Tony.

 

See attached details and images of Le Castelnau, 3 bedroom home at La Durantie (€491,920/approx.£404,100).

 

If you choose to include any of this information please credit Jeanne Boden and include the website www.durantie.com and / or Tel: +44 (0)1732 848316.


A Horse Rider’s Haven

 

Often compared to the Cotswolds or Tuscany, the Tarn’s gentle rolling countryside is a haven for horse-riding enthusiasts, and owners at La Durantie are spoilt for choice with the varied terrain on their doorsteps.

 

The peaceful, beautiful scenery allows for riders of all abilities to ride out and enjoy the surrounds, riding with friends or taking their horse for an undisturbed ride. Endless outings can be enjoyed on sleepy, car-free roads, or deep amongst the ancient woodland of the Gresigne Forest, or meandering peacefully amongst the many local vineyards. With very little fencing or gates to negotiate, riders can feel at one with nature, with nothing to interrupt them except for the odd deer or the sound of a farmer’s plough.

 

La Durantie’s nearby stables offer the facilities for the experienced rider to keep their own horse, and those owners wishing to keep or rent a horse for a season can easily do so. Situated 500 metres from the Chateau, there will be 18 boxes for horses, one riding court and one lunging ring, laid out on a 30 hectare site comprising fields and woodland. From the stables riders will have fabulous views of the nearby Bastide hilltop village of Castelnau-de-Montmiral.

 

 

For those just looking to enjoy a ride once in a while, and for younger children, the two nearby stables at St.Beauzile (www.centre-equestre-tarn.fr) and Ecuries de la Burgue (www.ecburgue.com) can offer training and rides organised on an individual basis.

 

There are many endurance competitions to enjoy at all levels, from a beginner friendly 10KM, up to a competitive 100KMs, with each event enjoying a communal local spirit. Breakfast is often shared before the events, followed by celebratory meals over trestle tables, which are filled with local Gaillac wine and scrumptious local produce.

 

For the skilled rider, slightly further afield there are several show jumping and dressage competitions during the spring and summer in and around the Toulouse area, which is easily reached within 50 minutes of La Durantie.


Tips for Brits Looking to Move to France

 

 

Making the move abroad is a big decision and for those wishing to make the jump to France can rest assured that an English speaking team is at hand for guidance throughout the sales process at La Durantie in The Tarn.  Jeanne Boden is Team Manager and Director of the new development of vernacular houses and apartments in the grounds of a historical belle époque style chateau, which is soon to become a Country Club with state of the art spa.  She has lived in the region for seventeen years, having also brought-up her family there and is on the local council in Castelnau de Montmiral, so really understands the local bureaucracy.  Whether it’s helping to access France’s superb health system, getting a document translated or just making a restaurant reservation, the staff at La Durantie makes life easy and worry-free.

 

Jeanne Boden says: “My biggest tip is definitely to learn the language as quickly as possible to fully experience life in France and if you wish to integrate with the local society. Visiting and getting to know the local Mayor or ‘Marie’ is also a good way of familiarising yourself with the area.  If you’ll be using a car then you have about 6 months to re-register your car and driving licence in your local prefecture.  If moving with young children then the local town hall will have up to date information on the local primary schools and are an excellent port of call for information.  If you don’t speak good French, you can also ask if they have someone on the local council who might be able to help out. I’d also encourage people to look for local expat communities, who will be able to provide lots of information on the local area, as well as becoming great new friends.  Of course, for those moving into homes at La Durantie will have a community of potential new international friends on their doorstep already!”


Let it snow, let it snow, let it snow!

 

If the thought of battling the crowds of frantic shoppers on busy UK high-streets isn’t putting you in the Festive spirit this year, imagine a time and place for winter-walks, roaring log fires and classic French seasonal cuisine…

 

These are just some of the benefits of a Christmas at La Durantie, where tucked away in the rural heart of South West France owners are at leisure to enjoy the numerous winter activities on their doorsteps, meaning staying busy at this time of year is easy.

 

For those really frosty days when the weather is too chilly to be outdoors, residents can enjoy one of the many social events provided by the chateau Country Club, such as cooking classes discovering rustic and warming French recipes, hands-on pottery classes or relaxing painting classes.

 

Alternatively, a luxurious day of rest and relaxation at the onsite Le Spa is the perfect way to spend a morning; enjoying the quality beauty treatments, warming the bones in the Laconium sauna or doing a few lengths in the heated swimming pool before lunch. Beautifully crisp walks can be enjoyed within the estate grounds, and longer walks can be taken in the scenic beauty of the nearby Gresigne forest.

 

 

Meanwhile just 50 minutes from La Durantie, Toulouse is the perfect winter tonic for culture vultures, who can wrap up warm and explore the Christmas stalls at the world class Victor Hugo food market, visit the Toulouse Lautrec Museum or take in a festive performance at the Theatre du Capitole.

 

For alpine enthusiasts the pistes of the French Pyrenees are closer than many realise, with Peyragudes ski resort a mere 90 minutes away, accessible for a weekend away, or just a day’s skiing if one wishes.

 

Known worldwide as a culinary heaven, France’s varied winter gastronomy does not fail to disappoint, with many hearty seasonal recipes on offer. With long traditions of hunting in the area, the colder months provide many opportunities to sample scrumptious local fare, including venison, wild boar, partridge, quail and goose. Meanwhile classic dishes such as cassoulet, a rich and rustic slow cooked casserole, and the festive ‘Buche de Noel’ (a luxurious chocolate and cream sponge dessert) are widely served.

 

As the champagne bottles are popped around the world to celebrate Christmas day, at La Durantie it’s also a good time to open the corks on some of the magnificent local Gaillac red wines – a wine growing area which is gaining increasing recognition world over. And before Christmas day itself, residents can take part in cosy wine tasting evenings at the Country Club, allowing them to stock up on all of their favourite vintages.

 

From everyone at La Durantie, we wish you a very merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!