Real French Homes With Gaillac Vines


Environ Communities is announcing plans to build a vine future at La Durantie in The Tarn department of Midi-Pyrénées in South West France.  By reintroducing vines to the 15 hectare country club and chateau estate means that owners of the local French vernacular homes can make the idyllic notion of drinking their own Gaillac wine whilst sitting on the terrace of their holiday home a reality.  La Durantie’s own Master of Wine, Andy Howard who is one of the World’s 300 Masters of Wine will be running wine courses and organising guided tours of the surrounding domains and owners will be invited to lease or buy their own rows of vines on the 1.3 hectare vineyard – giving them access to their own piece of French history.
Developer Tony Dowse, Founder of Environ Communities (UK) says: “When master planning La Durantie we wanted to be able to offer property owners the quintessential French dream of owning a vineyard home but without the maintenance hassle and substantial financial outlay. La Durantie is currently creating its own wine label and estimates that up to 15,000 bottles of wine per hectare will be produced in 3-5 years’ time.  Owners will be able to have as much or as little involvement in the wine producing process as they wish as Durantie is partnering with a local vineyard to blend and produce the wine and we are very much looking forward to enjoying our first bottle.”


Gaillac is one of France’s premiere wine regions with the first vine plantation dating back to the Roman time.  The town of Gaillac is just 10 kms from La Durantie and on 3rd – 4th August attracted wine-loving tourists and locals to its 35th Annual Wine Festival hosted at the Chateau Foucard.  The popular celebration provides the opportunity to meet today’s winemakers as well as enjoy live music, displays, fireworks, dinner and dancing, as well as lots of wine tasting.  Down the road at La Durantie, the same much loved L’Art de Vivre’ of Southern France including the local gastronomy and wine-tasting underlies the vision for the unique Country Club.



Within Durantie’s central agricultural buildings a multi-purpose hall with stage (‘Le Moyeau’) will be used for music, films, functions, events & courses.  The grand salons and terraces of the chateau will be home to the Country Club and will comprise a formal drawing room and private meeting and dining rooms, a library, bistro-bar, barbecue terrace and gardens.  It is here that residents, guests and local ‘members’ will come together during the day and into the evening to drink, dine and enjoy everything from courses and events to concerts.  Other onsite facilities will include 20 metre indoor and outdoor swimming pools, state of the art spa, tennis courts, croquet lawn, pitch & putt and natural swimming lake etc.  Environ Communities’ modern homes developments aim to achieve a true sense of that old fashioned notion of “community” and this is the reason they are called Environ Communities.


The Tarn region of south west France, on the same latitude as the Cote D’Azur, is almost undiscovered and takes you back to the ‘real France’, a warm and ancient region dotted with pretty stone farming villages and bustling towns, where vineyards spread out as far as the eye can see across unspoilt countryside.



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.  Terracotta roof tiles will enhance the mellow and traditional character of the scheme and a choice of furniture packages will enhance the chic French feel from within.  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.

Andy Howard, Master of Wines

Andy Howard is one of the World’s 300 Masters of Wine and will be running courses on wine at Durantie.  He worked for Marks & Spencers for over 32 years, the majority of that time as a buyer in the Food Division but latterly, before retiring this year, becoming wine buyer.  He was responsible for Burgundy, Bordeaux, Loire, Italy, Chile, Argentina, North America, South Africa, England, Port, Sherry and Fine Wines –with an annual purchasing budget of over £50m


Andy with his wife Gill has had a second home in Gaillac for the past twelve years and made wine in South West France for six vintages from 1999 – 2004.  This experience was invaluable for understanding the viticulture and vinification process and discovering the importance of the terroir.  Invaluable knowledge for the planting of Durantie domaine and the forthcoming Durantie label.


He has chaired the judging for the SEVA (South Eastern Vineyards Association) for the past six years and also sits on the Plumpton College Curriculum Advisory Board with responsibility in particular for the vinery and vineyards.  He judges Burgundy and Bordeaux wines at the annual Decanter awards.  In 2010 he was made a Chevalier du Tastevin de Bourgogne.

Gaillac Fete des Vins


3–4 August 2013


Over the weekend of 3rd – 4th August wine-loving locals and tourists will descend on the market town of Gaillac to celebrate the region’s 35th Annual Wine Festival hosted at the Chateau Foucard.


Known as one of France’s premier wine regions, with the first vine plantations dating back to the Gallo-Roman era, the town of Gaillac itself is located just 10 km from La Durantie, making it an excellent local attraction.


The town square, which you’ll often find occupied by intense games of boules played out by locals (who may let you jump in if you’re brave enough), is home to numerous excellent cafes and brasseries, which serve as the ideal location to enjoy a glass of wine and watch the world go by.


In recent times the town has steadily become increasingly popular thanks to the critical acclaim its wines are receiving, with wine aficionados worldwide enjoying the many varieties that are grown here.


Predominantly grown in three specific areas (the gravelly, sandy terraces on the left bank of the Tarn, the hillsides on the right bank and the Cordais plateau) the region’s diverse range of grape varieties yields many different types of wine, with white, red and sparkling all available.


Throughout the festival numerous local wine growers will be displaying their current vintages (and of course sharing their selection of wines!), whilst there is also live music, displays, fireworks and a dinner and dance to enjoy.  Down the road at La Durantie, the same much loved L’Art de Vivre’ of Southern France including the local gastronomy and wine-tasting underlies the vision for the unique Country Club. And with further plans at La Durantie to reintroduce vines on the chateau estate, the festival is the perfect platform for future home owners to sharpen their knowledge of the local vines!


Once the tasting is finished, for a top La Durantie tip we’d recommend dropping in to Vigne en foule (, a lovely brasserie owned by a small group of wine makers, with a well-stocked cellar which is home to some of Gaillac’s finest wines.


Click here to find out more about the festival and its running schedule.

International Property Awards Winner


France – La Durantie has been informed that it is amongst the winning companies of the esteemed International Property Awards in the 2013 European regional competition. Chateau de La Durantie competed against a number of leisure developments in France to receive this recognition. Successful entrants have been invited to attend a high-profile gala and presentation dinner at the Grosvenor House Hotel in London on September 24th where the winning companies will learn which honours they have secured. The top-scoring winners who will go on to compete in the International Property Awards global competition will be announced at the close of the evening.


Stuart Shield, president of the International Property Awards, says: “In the continent most renowned for its timeless architecture and awe-inspiring buildings, these winning companies are creating modern buildings and homes that enhance the beauty of their old-world cities while incorporating modern and innovative features.”


Tony Dowse, Developer and Master Planner of Chateau De la Durantie says: “The International Property Awards are prestigious in the market and I am proud that I will be receiving this accolade on behalf of the team.  We have worked hard to ensure Chateau de La Durantie is positioned correctly with its Country Club and state of the art spa and to be acknowledged in the highly competitive category of Best Leisure Development is a most valuable endorsement for savvy property investors in the current marketplace.”


The European Property Awards are part of the long established International Property Awards, the world’s richest competition when measured by the value of the projects entered.  The award winners’ logo is recognised as a symbol of excellence throughout the global industry. The European Property Awards rank amongst the most prestigious commendations in the residential and commercial property industries. A high-calibre jury of international experts identifies the most significant building projects as well as the highest quality European real estate agencies.


At the end of the year, the highest scoring winners from the European Property Awards will compete against other winning companies from Asia Pacific, Africa, UK, the Americas and Arabia to find the ultimate World’s Best in each category.


The judging panel consists of approximately 70 professionals including Andrew Panting, Director of Operations for the British Property Federation, Peter Bolton King, Global Residential Director of the Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors (RICS); and Christian Morris, Director / Owner of architectural firm Yotomo Ltd.


Building upon the success of business events first added to the 2011 award ceremonies, the International Property Awards will also host a Property Show at Grosvenor House Hotel during business hours on the same day, September 24th.  A number of professional networking events, including seminars, discussion tables and an exhibition will be attended by guests from the upper-echelons of their organizations, including chairmen, CEOs, and managing directors. The 2013 European Property Show is open to all industry related companies, property buyers and investors.


About International Property Awards

The International Property Awards are open to residential and commercial property professionals from around the globe.  Since 1995, they have celebrated the highest levels of achievement by companies operating in all sectors of the property and real estate industry.  The awards are split into regions covering Africa, Asia Pacific, Arabia, Canada, Caribbean, Central and South America, Europe, UK and USA.  The highest-scoring winners from each region are automatically entered into the overall International Awards, which ultimately determine the world’s finest properties and real estate professionals.

The Toulouse Effect


One could be forgiven for not wanting to leave Château de la Durantie, beautifully tucked away in an area of outstanding natural beauty in the Tarn countryside; a rustic gem in the undulating hills of South West France.  Located amidst the famed ‘Golden Triangle’ – the elegant trio of culture-rich Albi, wine-soaked Gaillac and the former bastide fortress Corde-sur-Ciel – it is easy to understand why the area warrants plenty of foreign investment.



Yet it’s not all crumbling farmhouses, sleepy villages and sun-baked vines that are attracting foreign interest. Head South West and within the hour one can find oneself in the beautiful city of Toulouse, Europe’s fastest growing city, and France’s fourth largest overall. As pioneers of industry (Toulouse is a leading player in both the aeronautics and space industries), the city has grown more than 20% in the last decade.  The former home of Concorde, and now housing Airbus’s headquarters, Toulouse remains the centre of the European aerospace industry.


However, if technology is the brains of the city, culture is very much the heart. Known as La Ville Rose (The Pink City) thanks to the reddish coloured bricks which were used to build many of the city’s buildings, Toulouse basks in its own glowing light. Boasting a world renowned university and a vibrant student population pushing 100,000, only Paris and Lille can lay claim to more resident academics. More famous than its aeroplanes are the city’s two sporting teams; Stade Toulousain, the power house of French rugby which has dominated the European scene in recent years, and the resurgent Toulouse FC, the Ligue 1 football side who are considered to be amongst the country’s top three or four teams, and who are keen to secure Champions League football for 2013.


For the real culture vultures, the magnificent Cathédrale Saint-Etienne, a blend of Gothic-Mediterranean architecture is open for daily services, whilst the The Musée des Augustins (circa 14th Century) houses one the most impressive collections of Romanesque sculptures in the world. Food lovers can rejoice in a leading hub of gastronomy, whilst France’s ubiquitous café scene is evident on the corner of every boulevard and cobbled square that you happen to wander down.



Throw into the mix the city’s fantastic transport links – Toulouse Blagnac Airport has daily low cost flights to all popular destinations, there’s an exceptional train service extending all over Western Europe, and plans for France’s revered TGV network to connect the city with Paris – and it’s no surprise to see how the ‘Toulouse Effect’ has taken hold.


Undoubtedly the city’s attraction is excellent news for residents at Château de la Durantie, not least for their own pleasure, but for the reassuring knowledge that this dynamic city and its hinterland is becoming a property hot spot and now has to be a good time to inveast.


No longer a rough diamond waiting to be found, Toulouse is a city well and truly cut to precision. Just make sure you don’t miss its beautiful pink hue as the sun goes down.

Flights to Toulouse Blagnac Airport


Summer programme for flights to and from Toulouse Blagnac Airport from March – October 2013:


Bristol: 1 daily flight with Easyjet

London Gatwick: one or more flights with Easyjet

London Heathrow: one or more flights with British Airways

Birmingham: 2 flights per day (except Saturday) with BMI Regional

Manchester: 1 flight per day on Monday, Wednesday, Friday and Sunday with Jet 2

Leeds Bradford: 1 flight per day on Friday and 1 on Saturday with Jet2

Edinburgh: 1 flight per day on Wednesday and 1 on Sunday with Jet2

Dublin: 1 flight on Monday, Wednesday, Friday and Sunday with Aer Lingus



Montreal: 1 flight per day on Tuesday and Sunday with Air Transat



Istanbul: 1 daily flight (you can find information on the flight correspondence network which is wide: 200 countries, mainly towards Asia, Africa and West America)

Holiday Homes ‘En Route’ of Le Tour


New holiday homes on the southern route of the Tour De France include Chateau De La Durantie – the historical belle époque chateau and 15 hectare estate in The Tarn.  


This year marks the 100th anniversary of the famed Tour de France and there is heightened British interest in the race thanks to the heroic efforts of last year’s winner Sir Bradley Wiggins.  The 7th stage in early July climaxes in a sprint through the historic and beautiful city of Albi, voted ‘the most sporting town in France, 2012’, which is also home to the UNESCO listed Sainte-Cecile Cathedral.  The new properties at Chateau de la Durantie, just 30 minutes from the centre of Albi, present an opportunity for Francophiles to own an authentic Tarn-styled home ‘en route’ in rural France. Other stages on the southern route also include the cities of Marseilles and Montpellier.


On 1st – 21st July massive international TV audiences as well as the French public and visitors to France for the occasion will line the route and watch in awe and admiration at the riders who push themselves to the very pinnacle of physical ability and endurance to claim the famed Yellow Jersey. Taking in all types of terrain, the tour will introduce viewers to many vibrant towns and regions and will showcase the relatively unknown rugged beauty of The Tarn in the Midi-Pyrenees of South West France. The Tarn is often referred to as the Tuscany of France and compared with The Cotswolds of the mid-20th century with its many historical hillside towns, rolling plains and dramatic hillsides.



A rare permit has been gained to develop in this Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty and the belle-époque Chateau de la Durante is being sympathetically renovated and developed by Environ Communities ( With scarce opportunities to enjoy a chateau lifestyle, Durantie offers the best of both worlds; 21st century living combined with the use of the sympathetically restored château building, facilities and club entertainment.


Durantie boasts an enviable location which is highly accessible by plane, train and car from the UK and is well serviced by direct flights and budget airlines such as Flybe, Easyjet and Ryanair to nearby Toulouse. The location is a haven for cycle enthusiasts and outdoor enthusiasts – located on the doorstep of The Gresigne forest and home to 3,500km of cycling and walking trails.


The Tarn has proved to be a popular destination for British expats, particularly in the region’s famed ‘Golden Triangle’, the area between the cultural city of Albi, the wine soaked vineyards of Gaillac and the majestic Bastide village of Cordes-sur-Ciel.  Property owners at Durantie have exclusive access to the chateau’s own Country Club and Spa, which houses a gourmet bistro and is to be a hub of cultural and sporting events and outings.


Nearby cycle routes can be found at:

Durantie’s First VIP Visitors


La Durantie received its first VIP guests onsite as five leading UK property journalists were invited to visit and report back to their readers on the chateau development.  Publications represented included; Daily Express, French Property News, Evening Standard, Chelsea Monthly, Expat Telegraph and The Scotsman.


As well as familiarising themselves with the plans for Durantie and meeting the team responsible for bringing the chateau back to life the visit enabled the journalists to explore The Tarn and to see for themselves why so many have chosen to ‘up sticks’ and move here.  The quality of life is hard to deny!


The château has seen several owners throughout its lifetime but significantly, the Schwarzkopf family, famed for perfumes & beauty products, bought the château in the 1980’s and held wild parties whilst farming the 800 acre plot. In the interwar period the vineyard estate was run by nuns and their peaceful influence can still be sensed when entering the gates today… the earlier rush hour bustle in London was long gone!



The chateau is surrounded by undulating vineyards and oak forests for as far as the eye can see.  It is easy to imagine yourself on a warm summer evening sitting on the bistro’s terrace overlooking the pool and the hills beyond sipping a superb Gaillac wine and dining on delicious local delicacies.  For those with a passion for wine tasting it is well-worth following in the group’s footsteps to visit the Château de Mayragues 10kms north of Gaillac.

The journalists received a warm welcome by Christian Riviѐre of the Tarn Tourist Board ( and the local Mayor, Mr Paul Salvador who joined the party for lunch at the nearby Château de Salettes ( which is a culinary treat for foodies! Other restaurants sampled included La Table du Sommelier in Gaillac, L’Ancien Auberge in Puycelsi and lunch in Toulouse at the Restaurant du Père Louis after an extraordinary guided tour of the Toulouse-Lautrec museum in Albi.



The warm winter sunshine made a stroll around the nearby Bastide village of Castelnau de Montmiral a joy as thoughts turned to property once more as the French pastel shutter shades were admired and expert Tony Dowse, pointed-out the traditional characteristics and materials being echoed in the new Durantie homes.



To read the resulting articles and to see for yourself what the journalists had to say about the visit the media testimonials section of our website…

Welcome to the Durantie Blog!

Luxury Homes France Courtyard


Share-in our journey as the vision for the Chateau De La Durantie turns into a reality.  We will also share with you some of the reasons why people are passionate about living in The Tarn region and keep you up-to-date with what is going on in the region.


Our first blog post…


The marketing of Chateau De La Durantie is now well underway and we have opened the historical gates to curious visitors who have shown their excitement about the renovation of this late 19th century gem.  The idea is to turn the chateau and the surrounding 15 hectare estate into a country club and spa for members only, made up of both property owners visiting their homes in the grounds of the estate and locals.


Property prices have recently been released and construction of phase one is due to commence in the New Year.  It is anticipated that the first proud owners will receive the keys to their French holiday homes in summer 2014.


Laurence Geddes, Deputy Mayor in charge of Culture and Heritage says: “I am interested in the preservation of the existing architecture and seeing the sympathetic development of this project.  Alongside this, it will provide an economic interest for many within the local community.”


Gourmet food served at luxury bistro in south-west France


Developer Tony Dowse says: “The aspect that I find so interesting is that the local businessmen have come together to invest in the future economy of the Tarn to provide local employment as the structure of the local economy changes.  Also, an Anglo-French team is being fully supported by the local Mayor and combines local builders and artisans with valuable local knowledge with a team of British designers and marketeers.”


The Developer, Environ, has built various award-winning homes in the UK and this is the first French project. However, Co-Developer David Boden knows the château well having lived nearby for 16 years: “Having lived here  in this magical region for so many years and thoroughly enjoying our lifestyle I’m delighted to be able to share it with others as well as helping to sustain the local economy.”


For those who wish, the Country Club at Durantie will provide property owners with opportunities to interact with the locals and become involved in the community.  The Chateau building will form the heart of the development and it is here that the residents, guests and local ‘members’ will come together during the day and into the evenings, to drink, dine and enjoy everything from courses and events to concerts…