A French hamlet to call your own for €374,000
An entire six-building hamlet that has been a home and an eco-friendly project to a French family has gone on the market
Sustainability and local produce are the guiding forces behind this hamlet in France, a concept padded out by the sheep wool roof insulation in the main house which overlooks mouton pastures in a Languedoc national park.
Behind the sale of this six-building hamlet, for €374,000, is a tale of leaving the course des rats or – as the French term the rat race – foire d’empoigne (free-for-all).
A French family with five children walked away from their city life eight years ago to turn this south-facing hamlet in the Aveyron département of south France into a self-sustaining ecological tourist centre where they could live in harmony with nature. They set about transforming the then deserted hamlet – using eco-friendly methods– into two gîtes (for rent) and a B&B house with a room for meetings.
A fourth building was turned into a sort of folk museum and shop selling on-site produce (including chestnut flour, quince jelly and jam) while an enormous, beautiful stone barn stored tractors and other equipment as well as all of the wood that feeds the wood-burning stove (which heats the entire village for about €1,000 a year).
The sixth building, a five-bedroom house, became a warm, mainly wooden, family home insulated by that wool in the attic and straw and hemp in the walls.
One gîte and the B&B were also converted ecologically and are warmed by the wood furnace in the barn (the other gîte has yet to be renovated).
Solar heating warms the water which comes from a spring and is free, which is not usually the case in France. It is filtered, ionised and assessed by the local authorities.
There is also a swimming pool and greenhouse on the land which is at an altitude of 750m. It often snows here and, while the roads are kept open, new owners may also be tempted to travel along the cross-country ski trails at Lacaune, 10km away.
La bon vie
And so to business: with the rentals and sale of produce – the 35 hectares of land with the property includes an orchard, edible-chestnut trees, a vegetable garden and grazing for the family goats – earnings came to about €1,500 a month.
It is now open to offers from others who dream of an escape into the bon vie and to live by planet-saving principles in this remote spot between Toulouse and Montpelier with access to a large village 3km away.
The price has already dropped from €450,000 to €374,000 – “lifestyle” hamlets in France have seen price-pressure in the past three years – and while such non-boom tags are common in the area, all of the ecological interventions must have cost a lot in time, money and research.
It can come as no wonder then that German Buddhists and Belgian Greens have already made enquiries.
While estate agent Simon Oliver (who himself left Ulster in 1980 to live nearby), feels the eventual buyer will have green leanings, he says: “Why not a couple of families from D4 anxious to escape the next wave of fiscal strangulation?”