on the edge of La-Brêche-au-Diable in the French department of Calvados
This property, 30 km south of Caen, borders the plain, backing on to a hillside. Paris is 2 hours away by train from Caen station, with numerous daily links. The journey to Paris from the Normandy capital via the A13 motorway takes about 2½ hours. Falaise, with its sixth form colleges and large infrastructures, is 6 km away. The nearest village, with a large number of local shops and amenities, is 3 km away.
The manor house
Constructed in the 16th century to span three levels, it was extended in the 17th century by two wings added to either side. Then, in the 19th century, a half-timbered pavilion was constructed in the alignment of the construction. This manor house is built from quarry stone blocks, with Caen stone quoins and surrounds framing the openings. The hip and gable roofs, with slightly upward curving eaves on the pavilion, are covered with flat tiles. The main, south-facing facade features tall windows on the ground floor, some of which are French windows. The entrance door is topped with an archivolt. Two first floor windows and three roof dormers stand out courtesy of their triangular moulded pediments, decorated with three pinnacles.
The front door opens into a vestibule, paved with Caen stone, at the end of which a spiral stone stairway goes to the two upper floors. The ceilings on this level are painted and the beams boxed. The floors are laid with tiles, parquet flooring or paved with stone. The vestibule provides access, on one side, to a hall area that leads to a back kitchen, with a shower room and toilet, and to a kitchen at the end of the manor house. Said kitchen is illuminated via three windows and a French window. On the other side are four adjoining rooms. A dining room, with wainscoting and a marble fireplace featuring sculpted jambs, a conservatory, with a large stone fireplace, a window and a French window, a library, with a window and a French window, and lastly a vast lounge, laid out in the pavilion, with wainscoting and three wide windows letting in copious amounts of light. A marble fireplace is set in one corner.
The floors on this level are laid with natural or painted wood, strip pattern parquet flooring. The ceilings are very often a light colour and sometimes feature exposed beams and joists. The spiral stairway goes up to a landing that provides access, on one side, to an anteroom, with two openings to two bedrooms, one of which has a wash-hand basin and, on the other side, to a long corridor, running the length of the rear facade, which successively leads to a bathroom, two bedrooms, a second bathroom and a last vast bedroom, housed in the pavilion. Both the bathrooms communicate with two bedrooms. A door in the corridor opens into a toilet and on to a stairway that goes to the lounge on the ground floor of the pavilion.
Only the section corresponding to the 16th century building has been converted. A door at each end opens into two attics, with their exposed roofing framework. The spiral stairway goes up to a landing room, with a shower room and a toilet. A door opens on to a large corridor which provides access to two bedrooms, illuminated via the pediment roof dormers. One of these bedrooms has a wash-hand basin.
The outbuildings are laid out on either side of the entrance gates. They are constructed from quarry stone blocks and topped with roofs, covered with interlocking tiles. One, spanning two levels, is used as a double garage. The other is a barn, composed of two adjoining buildings. They all have packed mud floors.
This garden is predominantly composed of large surface areas laid to lawn, dotted with little alleyways and tall, characteristic trees such as a cedar, a purple beech, a majestic weeping willow, a sweet gum and a ginkgo-biloba as well as magnolia, oak and other trees. A swimming pool, concealed by bushes, precedes a row of age-old apple trees. Flower beds abound throughout. Rose bushes are numerous and the climbing varieties cover the manor’s main facade. The river Laizon borders a large part of the property and feeds the lake, with its islet. This is, without doubt, the realm of the gardener. Behind the manor house, going up towards the hill, two stone pillars support a gate that opens on to a lane. The latter separates the garden from the wooded section which goes up to the plateau. A pleasant promenade goes down towards La-Brêche-au-Diable and the river Laizon that forms a waterfall. Majestic blocks of sandstone can be glimpsed between the trees.
Numerous features, going right to the edge of the property, bear witness to the fact that this house has been lived in for several thousands of years. However, the beginning of the 19th century was the most significant. In addition to the lake, with its islet and the promenade surrounding it, the flower-filled alleyways and the decidedly English appearance given to the garden, this manor housed the lovers of a Comédie-Française actress who mixed with Olympe-de-Gouges and Fabre-d’Églantine, amongst others. She gave her name to the culminating point of La-Brêche-au-Diable where her tomb, sculpted by Lesueur, dominates the sheer cliff of the gorge located behind the property. The manor house appears to be set in the hollow of the valley. The light radiating from it is enhanced by the colour of the trees in the background. The curves in the garden are gentle. The inspiration in nature, history and human passion is here the very definition of romanticism.
|Land registry surface area||3 ha 6 a 50 ca|
|Main building surface area||440 m2|
|Number of bedrooms||5|
|Outbuilding surface area||186 m2|
Yann Campion +33 1 42 84 80 85
NB: The above information is not only the result of our visit to the property; it is also based on information provided by the current owner. It is by no means comprehensive or strictly accurate especially where surface areas and construction dates are concerned. We cannot, therefore, be held liable for any misrepresentation.