in the midst of the God Mithra’s Ardèche town
This mansion house is a retreat standing in the centre of the old market town in the south of the Ardèche department, on the borders of those of Gard and Drôme, where the bishops of the Vivarais region came to spend their summers.
This property is midway, or less than 30 minutes away, from Chauvet Cave, the oldest masterpiece of humanity protected by UNESCO, and the main, modern, communication routes providing access to it: motorways, train stations, ports and cycle paths. The proximity of the Ardèche gorges, the area around Provence and the river Rhône also offers a setting for numerous sports and cultural activities: hiking, performing arts, a water sports centre, potholing, vineyards, UNESCO sites and archaeological museums.
Several streets provide access either to the main courtyard, or to the garden, giving each section a certain autonomy in connection with the history and the current layout of the premises. Virtually out of sight of the street, only the main facade on the east side, is almost perfectly symmetrical, with its eight, semi-blind windows, the appearance of which is reminiscent of Parisian mansion houses. Various profiles and contours embellish and enhance the east facades: mascarons, pilasters and wrought quoins featuring rustic masonry and moulding. Only the coats-of-arms above the entrance door have been partially hammered. Typical of southern homes, this mansion is topped with Roman tiles.
Rare documents, the books of account (preserved in the National Archives), reveal the stylistic influence of the French capital and the regional expertise (craftsmen and an architect from the city-state of Avignon) as well as the quality of the works (use of noble and distant materials: stone from Barbentane and from Saint-Restitut).
After having belonged to illustrious, aristocratic and merchant families, this property took on a new vocation for more than forty years, that of providing accommodation for groups of people (families and youngsters) as part of a predominantly spiritual retreat. It was consequently converted into several flats, all in keeping with the original layout.
The wings and the attic space
The two south wings, spanning two levels facing the courtyard and the garden, house four flats, comprising two to five rooms, and three studio flats. A large dormitory awaits completion of its conversion upstairs in the northern section, overlooking the main courtyard. Similarly, a communal kitchen as well as bathroom and toilet facilities take up the southern section and that facing the courtyard in order to be able to host specific events. Three back stairways, two to the north and one to the south, are concealed from the eyes of visitors and provide access to each level up to the attic space, which is not currently used for any specific purpose.
On the ground floor of the courtyard side, a convivial area, taking up the old stables to the south, faces a storage area to the north, the threshold of which still features signs of the passing of horse-drawn carriages.
The main building
Preserved, the main building still has all of its rooms laid out over two levels and its French ceilings. On the first level, two lounges follow on one from the other, parallel to the vestibule. The latter houses a large stairway, the Louis XV style railings of which are protected by French Historic Monument listing. Said railings still feature the initials of the couple for whom the mansion house was redesigned in the middle of the 18th century. The biggest room takes up the entire second level. It is embellished with a large fireplace, featuring floral decoration, greatly inspired by ancient times. In the basement, the cellar vault is enhanced with a string course, ingeniously hewn along its base to receive water from the house well. This system was used for cleaning the barrels of this little storehouse for wine coming from the Rhône hillsides.
For almost a century, this property has been waiting for new owners wishing to restore its splendour of yesteryear. Saved and maintained courtesy of the motivation of various owners and numerous volunteers, it has come down through the ages without being transformed. Experienced, enthusiastic eyes will see but the spacious rooms, the French ceilings, the indoor shutters still in place on the large windows and, above all, the outstanding stairway as well as the monumental fireplace. They can quickly do away with all the modern conversions or adapt them to suit their needs and desires. Only a few works on the roof and some renovation, notably of the rendering, will need to be carried out.
Instead of a retreat, these premises could become a daring adventure, “for the brave of heart nothing is impossible”.
|Land registry surface area||952 m2|
|Main building surface area||800 m2|
|Number of bedrooms||16|
Frédérique Fournet +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.