Minutes from our village, Chalabre, there is a stunning property – tucked away up a lane that fronts the Voie Verte – a walkers’ and ramblers’ path banned to motorised traffic of any kind – which, in a previous time, was the Branch Line between the Canal du Midi and Lavelanet. It is the old “Montbel ” railway station, complete with a huge engine shed like a mini Cathedral, a separate works shed, also huge, and a small building labelled ” Femmes ” and ” Hommes ” which is now used as a storage area and pump room. The current owners have put in a generous swimming pool between this building and the side flank of the main house intending to transform the ” Services ” building into part of the pool area – changing rooms – segregated of course – in the best ” Old Railway ” tradition. A charming and very practical idea!
The grounds are charming too. You enter through double iron gates, flanked by pomegranate shrubs to your left, and with a view down to the river that forms the right hand boundary of the property. Just as you enter the first part of the drive – before the gates – the land sweeps down gently to the first field that is also a part of this property. Continue through the gates and you will arrive at the front door – situated these days to the rear of the property. Continue past the front door, still in the gardens that wrap around the main house, and you will arrive at the second, far larger, field that is also a part of the land that belongs to this property. This too is bounded by the river and is good grazing land if your dream includes animals. The non attached works shed is just before the large field and could become anything you want ( subject of course to Planning Permission if appropriate ) a giant garage / a gite/ guest accommodation, stables? Electricity is already in place and a transformation would be easy to achieve.
In the main house everything is built on generous scale – all the roms are large, not surprising when one thinks that you are now in the Booking office, the waiting room and that, in its’ heyday as a working station, large numbers of people travelled in from the hamlets and villages to work for the thriving textile industry at Lavelanet. What is surprising is that the bedrooms, at first floor level, are also planned on the same generous scale. We don’t have a clue what they were used for originally, but there is not a small room in the entire property. The ground floor rooms include the salon and dining area which run front to back of the property with huge french doors at each end letting the light flood in. There is a guest toilette off the main entrance hall. The kitchen has lovely french doors to the outside and connects to the enormous engine room at one side.
Up again to the loft area which is insulated and is a seriously large open space with some room areas awaiting decisions. This is ideal space to have the choice of usage for yourselves – and very easy to incorporate into the main living space.
From the kitchen you enter the old engine shed – industrial building at its very best – cathedral ceiling with the most wonderful structural ironwork supporting the roof. It is so big that you could ride a bicycle around in it and, when the old doors are opened, it is flooded with light on both sides. Wonderful space – that can be anything you want it to be – think open concept living space, loft feel, with enough height to add a mezzanine level easily. Or, think gîtes – there is more than enough space to create two if desired!
- Equestrian Potential