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! 


The World’s Best Leisure Development!

 

Environ Communities has received a ‘World’s Best’ award from the International Property Awards for La Durantie; the new development of vernacular villas and apartments in the grounds of a historical belle époque style chateau in The Tarn.  The International Property Awards is the world’s largest property competition with 98 countries participating this year and sponsored by Virgin Atlantic and Yamaha.

 

Having already competed at country level and throughout the regional stages of the International Property Awards, the finest architects, developers, interior designers, and estate agents from across the globe gathered at the glamorous Grosvenor House Hotel in London on Friday 6th December to attend a glittering gala and to hear the long-anticipated results of the International Property Awards ‘World’s Best’ crowning event.

 

On accepting the much coveted award Tony Dowse said: “It is an honour to be presented with the ‘World’s Best’ award for La Durantie as we have had to fend-off some stiff competition along the way.  We spotted a gap in the market for a leisure development with luxury homes that would appeal to a cultured community of active fifty-something’s and created the chateau country club and high-tech spa at La Durantie. A lot of detail has gone into all aspects of the development to meet the requirements of our highly discerning buyers and it is rewarding to have this work recognised by the industry and to be announced as the leading leisure development.”

 

Construction of Phase 1 consists of 57 vernacular designed single and two storey one to five bedroom detached homes together with two styles of apartments with either two or three bedrooms.  All properties have lush landscaped rear gardens and most have a private pool.  Renovation of the chateau is already underway and construction of the first homes on the estate is due to commence in the first quarter of 2014, with the delivery anticipated for the end of 2014.  House prices in the leaseback scheme start from €313,560 (approx. £262,300) for a 1 bedroom house and range through to 5 bedrooms starting at €731,640 (approx. £612,000).*

 

The highest scoring entries for each category in Asia Pacific, Africa, the Middle East, Europe, UK and the Americas were automatically entered into the annual grand final.  Judging is carried out through a meticulous process involving a panel of over 70 experts covering every aspect of the property business. The judges not only look for the most impressive projects, but also examine the sustainability and innovation of every property and development that comes under their scrutiny.

 

Stuart Shield, President of the International Property Awards said: “Our World’s Best developers have represented their countries well and ought to be extremely proud. This award demonstrates their talent for producing work that has the potential to better the world. We welcome the 2013 winners in joining this exclusive international club of outstanding property professionals.”


Autumn News From The Tarn

 

The weather this autumn has been simply amazing; the warm temperatures (up to 27deg c) combined with the Autumn colours has provided a simply magical environment for walking, riding and for those of us who love their rugby, watching the flare of French rugby in shirt sleeves!

 

The vendange has been and gone and thanks to the beautiful weather more than made up for the backbreaking work.  Difficult sometimes to focus on the job in hand when one is surrounded by such beautiful scenery and stunning views – hey ho, someone has to do it!

 

The traditional chestnut fare at one of the local towns was, as usual, a great success. We have an abundance of chestnuts locally, shared with our feathered friends; we’ve had our first chestnut roasting session over an open fire – delicious, dipped in salt with bacon lardons!

 

 

At Durantie we’ve had a very hectic Autumn with preparations moving a pace for the filming of a movie coming out next year starring a very well known British actress and produced by an even better known Hollywood icon………….more to follow!!!!  A truly amazing spectacle with cameras and lights everywhere, one hundred and fifty people scurrying and standing around in equal proportion in the magical setting that is Durantie.  A great crew, all of whom stayed in local farmhouses and gites, all of whom seemed to have loved the area, commenting on the beautiful countryside and how kind and welcoming the locals have been.  To a person they all said they would love to return and explore the historical villages and towns, also of course renewing their acquaintance with more Gaillac wines and lovely local food!

 

 

We remembered “the fallen” at a very moving ceremony at the “Monument aux Mort” here in Castelnau De Montmiral, a truly memorable event with the ensemble parading through the village in quiet remembrance both French and British alike – a very good example of how Europe should be; where the local children read out the names of the “fallen” from the village during the First and Second World Wars,  very often a family losing all their sons and a nation losing virtually an entire generation of their young men.  A retired British Women’s Royal Army Corp Major made a very moving speech (in French) to the community gathered commenting on the history of the “poppy” and how the new generation of young men and women show the same courage as they did nearly a hundred years ago.  Next year it will be the 100th Anniversary of the start of the Great War,  which will be commemorated by the residents of Castelnau De Montmiral with a special event.

 

We have had our first “casserole sanglier” of the season, delivered by one of our local farmer friends, hunted in the local Gresigne forest, which is one of the largest oak forests in Europe ; cooked in the Aga for 12 hours, beautifully tender having been marinated in local Gaillac red wine along with locally produced fresh autumn vegetables – Rick Stein eat your heart out!!

 

 

The Hoopoes have now flown south, the buzzards, falcons and kestrel swoop and hover respectively in search of field mice, voles and rabbits all in abundance.  I notice the song-birds are frantically feeding up on berries in preparation for winter .  Sightings of red deer and sanglier, a common occurrence, tempting the hunting instincts of the local chasse!

 

Wood gathered for winter and now we look forward to those crisp clear mornings, evenings by the fire and of course it won’t be long before we take to the slopes of the Pyrenees in December and Christmas of course………..!


Q+A

Tony Dowse is a busy man. With over 30 years of residential property development, he has been at the forefront of innovative housing and community design. The work that he has done with his company, Environ Communities, has led to many successful developments, including Lacuna at Kings Hill, Kent and Stonegate Place in Wye near Ashford, both multi award winning schemes.

 

Tony’s new project has seen Environ turn their attention to a different country: France. A first for the Environ team, the project includes the sensitive redevelopment of a chateau, a series of new properties, the creation of country club, spa and bar and bistrot. The master planning took a full year, whilst development is due to commence at the end of 2013, with the first homes to be delivered in December 2014.

 

Here Tony sits down and explains some of the challenges of such a project, the attractions of France for expats, and offers some top tips for those thinking of making the jump abroad.

 

How did you discover La Durantie and what inspired you to take on a chateau development?

My business partner, David Boden, lives in the nearby village of Castelnau de Montmiral, and he originally identified the site at La Durantie.

 

When I visited the site I realized exactly how special it was and began considering what we could offer that was different from other chateau developments scattered along the Languedoc coastline or in the Dordogne.

 

After extensive research on the area I realized many British ex-pats lived in this hidden gem which sits with the Dordogne to the north-west and the Languedoc to the east, fulfilling their dream of a better quality of life for their family.

 

 

What attracted you to the Tarn?

The warm climate was a key factor, as well as the location – you’re positioned roughly midway between the Atlantic and Mediterranean Coasts, plus you can reach the Pyrenees in a few hours for skiing during the winter. The fact you can be in France’s fourth largest city, Toulouse, in less than an hour, is equally appealing.

 

The landscape is beautiful here; the Tarn is often compared to The Cotswolds and to Tuscany due to its rolling hills and charming local villages, and some of the bastide hilltop villages are architecturally magnificent. Nearby Gaillac is producing exceptionally good quality wine, and is also one of the oldest wine growing areas of France,  then there are the local delicacies such as Foie-gras, truffles, nuts, duck, wild boar…

 

Transport-wise Toulouse airport is well serviced by the budget airlines as well as British Airways, and the train service to and from the city is excellent.

 

What inspired your designs/ideas for La Durantie? 

We looked at the way local French villages have evolved and decided to cluster our new homes around typically French courtyards with winding passageways. The architecture importantly integrates the local vernacular, but the houses are light and airy.

 

I was most interested in the concept of a Country Club, but wanted to integrate French locals with La Durantie residents/guests. I didn’t want it to become a UK clique- it is very important that La Durantie is integrated with the local community.

 

We also incorporated village squares with plane trees and water fountains, plus adapted the chateau and barns into a country club and state of the art spa, offering a bistro, library, 20 metre indoor and outdoor swimming pools and a natural swimming lake, tennis courts, croquet lawn, pitch & putt golf, outdoor dining terraces and a barbeque area.

 

What is the most exciting feature of the La Durantie development in your eyes?

I’m hugely excited about the country club. The country club concept is rare in France, and something I’m really delighted that we’re incorporating. The pool is designed with an infinity edge and housed in a huge expanse of glass, meaning guests see views of the landscape at all times of the year. The views down across the meadow towards the woodland and countryside beyond will be stunning and alter with the seasons. It also means that everyone will use and enjoy the chateau building rather than limit this privilege to a handful of owners. We did not want to merely chop the chateau into apartments, but to open it up for all to appreciate.

 

 

What have been the most difficult challenges you have faced so far?

The biggest challenge has been ensuring that we build something that is French and not British in style. This even incorporates the landscaping. It is vitally important that guests feel they are in France! Having an Anglo-French team behind the development has helped to ensure this.

 

How have you liaised with the French authorities?

My business partner’s wife is on the local council, which has been a great help in liaising with the local community and authorities. She has lived in the Tarn for many years, so although she is British she really understands the local bureaucracy.  She has helped to highlight differences between the UK and French regulations and the various requirements. We have also employed the services of a fluent business interpreter. This was imperative to ensure we and the authorities understood each other. We have also used a UK concept architect, but he liaises with a local French architect to make sure the designs were consistent with the regulatory requirements.

 

How can potential home owners at La Durantie be assured that they are buying into a quality development?

In October La Durantie fought-off stiff competition to win the coveted accolades of ‘Best Leisure Development France’ and ‘Best Leisure Development Europe’, at the International Property Awards 2013-2014.  The International Property Awards is deemed as one of the top awards in the industry and such accolades are recognised as a symbol of excellence throughout the global industry, and we are proud to be able to say that La Durantie is ‘Europe’s Best’.

 

Do you have any advice/top tips for foreigners looking to move to France and become expats?

My biggest tip is definitely to learn the language as quickly as possible to fully experience life in France and to integrate with the local society. Visiting and getting to know the local Mayor (Marie) is also a good way of familiarising yourself to the area.  If you’ll be using a car then you usually 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 local primary schools and are an excellent port of call for information. They also often have access to other important information you will need and if you don’t speak good French (yet!) you can 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 info on the local area, as well as becoming great new friends.

 

There are some helpful websites which provide lots of information too, such as www.connexionfrance.com, www.france.angloinfo.com, www.expatica.com, www.frenchentree.com and www.expatforum.com amongst many others.