a listed mansion house, emblematic of the town, awaiting renovation
110 km by road from Toulouse (international airport and TGV train station) and 85 km from Agen (TGV train station providing links to Paris in about 3¼ hours). In the midst of the Quercy region, in Cahors, its capital, a medieval town of art and history, following the meanders of the river Lot. Its symbol, the Valentré bridge, is classified as a World Heritage site by UNESCO. A dynamic town, pleasant to live in, with 19,000 inhabitants and labelled “Grand Site d’Occitanie” because of its major tourist interest.
An ideal place from which to set out exploring a wide variety of natural heritage and the region’s astonishing historic features: the Lot, Célé and Dordogne Valleys, the Grands Causses Regional Nature Park, medieval fortified towns, hilltop villages, castles, Romanesque churches as well as Gallo-Roman vestiges.
The main residence
This edifice was constructed on the vestiges of an older building, probably around the late 15th century. History has it that Henry of Navarre stayed here in 1580 during the storming of Cahors. It has belonged to the same family since the 17th century (except for a short time from the late 19th century to the early 20th century). The residence, an old mansion house now fully listed, stands out not only because of its size, but also because of its architectural singularity, marked by the evolution of its structure, its facades with their many moulded, single or casement windows, the top of the stairway tower, partially incorporated in the carcass, and its turret, topped with candlesnuffer roofs, as well as its covered, south-facing terrace, constructed in the manner of a “soleiho”, a traditional open attic previously used for drying purposes. Built not only from quarry stone blocks and brick, but also half-timbering, the house spans five levels (excluding cellars and the top of the tower). It is topped with long sloped, slate roofs, except for the south section which is covered with Roman tiles. The interiors span approx. 650 m² of living space (including the old servants’ floor but excluding the attic and cellars). It reflects a superb patina throughout, remaining very authentic with a large number of original architectural features in an excellent state of preservation: a spiral, stone stairway, chevron or ladder-pattern parquet flooring, French ceilings, mullioned windows, indoor shutters, stained-glass windows, door surrounds and moulded, monumental fireplaces with plant ornamentation, representative of the Quercy School, as well as an outside wooden gallery, forming a balcony. Two stairways provide access to the various levels, making it also possible to create independent sections if required: a spiral stone stairway in the tower, opening on to the courtyard, and a second wooden, quarter-turning stairway in the entrance vestibule on the east side.
The cellars are reached via the spiral stairway in the tower. These five cellars, three of which are vaulted, span a total of approx. 159 m². They are laid out over two basement levels.
The northern section is taken up by a great room (approx. 106 m²), divided into two via a depressed Gothic arch. Another similar arch constitutes the entrance to this room from the courtyard, whilst it is accessed on the square side via a beautiful, richly decorated Renaissance door. Both the passageways that once provided access to the stairway tower and to the entrance vestibule on the east side, are now condemned (but could be reopened). The latter currently lead to a room in use as a workshop and a laundry room (former kitchen with a stone fireplace).
The northern section, reached via the spiral stairway in the tower, comprises a large, through lounge (approx. 70 m²), enhanced with a moulded, monumental fireplace, with plant ornamentation, chevron-pattern parquet flooring, mullioned windows, fitted with stained glass, and a French ceiling going up to a height of 4.50 m. The lounge opens on the south-west side into an outside gallery, forming a balcony dominating the courtyard. It is followed, on the opposite side, by a bedroom (approx. 40 m²) which is also enhanced with a stone fireplace as well as a wonderful view over the river Lot and the surrounding area. Further to the south, the spiral stairway in the tower provides access to a dining room (approx. 42 m²) comprising a stone fireplace which is said to come from a large chateau in the region. It also features ladder-pattern parquet flooring as well as stained-glass windows. This room opens on the west side into the kitchen and on the north side into a little lounge, with plainer decoration, giving access to the wooden stairway in the eastern section.
On the north side is a library (approx. 70 m²) which can be reached via the spiral stairway in the tower. This through room is enhanced with strip-pattern parquet flooring, a monumental stone fireplace and a spectacular French ceiling, going up to a height of almost 4.70 m. On the east side, it is followed by a bedroom (approx. 38 m²), with a smaller fireplace featuring a carved wooden mantel. The view over the river Lot is extremely pleasant here. The library is adjoined on the south side by another bedroom, itself extended by an anteroom, reached via the tower stairway. Further to the south, the latter gives access to the bedroom known as “Henry IV’s room” (approx. 42 m²), with stained-glass windows symbolically marked with the letter “H”, topped with a crown. Although without a fireplace, it does have a superb French ceiling, ladder-pattern parquet flooring and window seats set in the embrasure of the mullioned window overlooking the river on the east side. This bedroom is completed on the south-west side by an adjoining room, fitted with a stone fireplace. It, too, can be directly reached via the secondary stairwell, as can the bathroom and the study that complete this level.
This level, reached via the spiral stairway in the tower, is taken up by a south-facing, covered terrace, constructed in the manner of a “soleiho”, a traditional open attic previously used for drying purposes. It is worthy of note that this is not part of the original layout. This floor was added at the end of the 19th century. It was then closed, its south facade featuring four windows. The transformation into a terrace took place then during the 20th century.
This level comprises an attic, as well as four rooms still in their original condition, previously used for accommodating the domestic staff. A small spiral stairway set in a turret gives access here to a bright, round room, laid out at the top of the main stairway tower, and comprising a lovely moulded stone fireplace, with plant ornamentation.
The second house
A four-storey building, this house can be reached via the courtyard by means of the passageway leading to the narrow street on the west side, and also via the entrance hall opening on to the same narrow street. Unoccupied for years and plainly laid out, it awaits full restoration works. It spans a total of approx. 91 m² of living space (excluding the garage, the old shop and the mezzanine). The courtyard level includes a garage (18 m²), an old shop (14 m²) as well as a mezzanine (14 m²). A studio flat (27 m²) and a two-roomed flat (64 m² over two levels) are laid out on the three upper levels.
Apart from a period of about thirty years, this building, one of the most outstanding in the town of Cahors, has been owned by the same family since 1661. Hailed in 1862 by a very early listing as a French Historic Monument, the edifice has seen its structure evolve with time, but not its architectural wealth which has remained admirable and constant. However, the building now requires a new lease on life and is in need of new owners to take it in hand and organise works to preserve the existing, whilst adapting it to the demands of modern-day living. Although a very ambitious task, it will appeal to all stone and history enthusiasts as well as those seeking an astonishing, highly unusual property that will lend itself to a multitude of projects. The tax advantages linked to its French Historic Monument listing as well as to its location in a preserved sector should constitute invaluable help and provide additional motivation to accept such a challenge.
|Land registry surface area||556 m2|
|Main building surface area||741 m2|
|Outbuilding surface area||137 m2|
|Number of bedrooms||10|
Dordogne, Lot et Corrèze
Ilan Libert +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.