We both totally adore this property – know we shouldn’t say it but it is one of our utter favorites – it is one of the Statement properties of our village. It’s local nickname is “La Maison Carree” which in translation means “The Square House”, and properties are only given nicknames if they are true local landmarks. The property has gorgeous dimensions, sitting in its own grounds with a swimming pool to the left hand side in its own terraced garden. Walking through the wrought iron gate, with the entrance path flanked by beds of lavender and mature shrubs, it sits foursquare, beautifully proportioned with balanced windows to either side of the magnificent front door approached by a gentle flight of steps with wrought iron handrails to either side. The grounds are walled, giving even more dignity and grace to this exquisite property, and the roof is more steeply pitched than is usual here, balancing the sheer size of the property perfectly. It is, in its way, a small manor house, and the room sizes, ceiling heights, elegant staircase and overall air of total quality bear out this first impression.
Unusual for a property of its age – we would guess somewhere in the 1700’s – it is full of light with generous windows to every facade of the property, and most rooms with windows to two sides, giving it a feeling of modernity that many properties of this age lack. It is an utter stunner on all levels, from the huge cellars – probably originally the kitchen and store level plus the servants ‘ dining room – to the very top of the property where the massive roof beams have, in part been left exposed.
Jennifer and I know the more recent provenance of this property – we know one of the builders who worked on this property about twenty five years ago, when it was a very much loved family home. Following that period of its existence, it was owned and loved as a seriously luxurious holiday home which earned its upkeep by occasional letting when not being used by the owners. We feel that anyone arriving here for a holiday would be utterly enchanted! The current owners have undertaken the most scrupulous and well judged update – the property “lives well” – with bags of space for cooking, dining and plain old relaxing even when all the bedrooms are occupied. And such elegant rooms – the owners have respected the original design but have modernised to ensure all comforts are met.
The grounds too have been planned to ensure that different wants and needs can be met – the pool area is ideal for entertaining with a very generous terrace to all sides – tactfully fenced and gated to the side nearest to the house in an unobtrusive way that doesn’t impinge on the semi formal structure of the grounds. Very much an inspired mixture of “French Formal” softened by “English Country Garden”. By putting the pool to the side, the entrance has not been compromised and the gracious entrance path remains, we feel, unchanged from the original shape, designed to lead your eye to the stone steps which lead in turn to the gorgeous double entrance doors. Grand, but not overstated, with a lawned area to your right that drops down to the paved terrace area that is below the large, informal country kitchen.
La Maison Carrée could again be a wonderful, full time family home with tons of space for family and friends without feeling stretched in any way. Equally, the tradition of gaining an income stream by a degree of letting would make it a very attractive option for a second home that can offset its running costs. If a business opportunity appeals to you, it could be a fabulous Chambre d’Hotes – possibly with a Table d’Hotes. Jennifer and believe that this is a property that would become a firm favorite – very hard to find something this beautiful unless you are looking at the Chateau market.
The location is excellent too – Chalabre, recently designated a Village Remarkable by the French government – a village with shops / bar-restaurants / doctor / dentist / schools / Farmers’ Market every Saturday morning plus easy access from Carcassonne / Toulouse airports. If flying from the USA or abroad in that way there are direct flights from Barcelona which is approximately three and a half hours drive, although, if you take the slower, prettier coast road you may be tempted to explore Barcelona itself before starting your journey or stop off at one of the Marinas en route for lunch overlooking the Mediterranean. In the winter the ski slopes of Mont D’Olmes are about forty five minutes away – for intrepid skiers Andorra is only an hour and a half away, and has the added benefit of tax free shopping. We have Lac de Montbel virtually on our doorstep, and we are an area with the lowest crime rate in the whole of France and also an area where the vast majority of farmers have made the decision to turn their backs on intensive farming and pesticides.
In all, we return to where we started – “We adore this property” – and we are very proud to be representing it. It gives amazing value for money in an area we call “One of France’s Best Kept Secrets” a wonderful marriage of traditional values and rural life allied to a commitment to the best modernity can offer – good road networks, good internet connections, good air access – the best of both worlds, moving at an unhurried pace. Come and see for yourself!
DPE en cours *Agency Fees Included
- Central Heating
- Chambre d'Hôtes Option