An 11th century village house
in the midst of the Luberon mountains
Viens, VAUCLUSE provence-cote-dazur 84750 FR

Location

In the midst of the Luberon mountains, in a little, authentically Provencal, hilltop village, a delight for the eyes and for enthusiasts of medieval villages, an hour from the A7 motorway, 1½ hours from Avignon TGV train station and Marseille international airport, 15 minutes from Apt, with its many shops and its weekly market which was created in the 12th century. In a dominant position on its rocky spur, protected from the Mistral winds, the view extends for as far as the eye can see, taking in unspoilt, natural surroundings, grandiose landscapes composed of hills, reflecting the green hues so dear to local writer, Jean-Giono, cultivated fields, rows of vines and olive trees with, on the horizon, the Luberon mountains dominated by Mont-Mourre.

Description

The early history of this little village resembles that of its neighbours: their subsoils having been scattered with souvenirs of their Neolithic, Gallic and Gallo-Roman inhabitants, followed in the 13th, 14th and 15th centuries by the most outstanding period of its history when the village emerged culturally and economically and constructed its extraordinary architectural heritage. The narrow streets are a treat for the eyes: facades of houses constructed between the 13th and 16th centuries are adorned with windows featuring mullions and crossbars, geminated windows and doors with finely decorated lintels. Below the village, the parish church predominantly dates back to the 12th century, notably with its outstanding Romanesque bell-tower, the upper section of which features semi-circular arched geminated windows on each of its sides, enhanced with a Lombard band of blind arcading.
This property, with approx. 300 m² of living space spanning three levels, two half levels and a garden level on the south side, is no doubt the most outstanding in the village and stands in its centre. Facing south, it has a completely unobstructed view over the Luberon mountains and a communal garden laid out at the foot of its south facade. Its construction dates back to the year 1150, when it was called the “Tower House”. The arch on the east facade was one of the gates providing access to the village. Following the construction of ramparts enclosing the old village in 1380, it became known as the “Commander’s House”. Many centuries later, the current owner has devoted 25 years to restoring and embellishing this exceptional property. The south facade is enhanced with windows featuring mullions and crossbars, geminated windows and a covered terrace adorned with a monolithic column, topped with an ornate capital. The more impressive north facade, composed of regularly-laid exposed stone, features tall, narrow mullioned windows. Its Roman tile roof, is edged with a triple cornice and copper guttering.

The main house

This house blends the codes of Romanesque architecture, the first great style created in the Middle-Ages after the decline of the Greek-Roman civilisation, the Renaissance style enhancing notions of symmetry, proportion, regularity and balanced motifs. The outside masonry walls are constructed from perpend stone, carefully aligned in horizontal courses. The corners of the house are embellished with rusticated masonry quoins. The south facades feature mullioned windows designed using the aesthetic golden ratio rules and including a Latin cross, geminated windows. Views over the Luberon mountains.


First floor
The main door, topped with a finely decorated, basket-handle-arched lintel, is set in the north facade. A small paved square leads to a first landing. On a slightly lower level, a toilet and a bathroom. A few steps on the first landing lead to the first level: on the east side, the old kitchen, with three windows making it very bright, has been preserved with its “potager” (a secondary hearth where soups and other previously prepared dishes were cooked on embers), its extraction hood, a Provencal style fireplace, cupboards closed with old doors, a beam system dating from the Middle-Ages and main beams enhanced at their ends by a wooden modillion, carved as a dog’s head.
Continuing on the south side, an old door opens into a vast, extremely bright reception-dining room. Two mullioned windows on the east and west sides, a high French ceiling with main beams, enhanced with stone corbels dating from the 12th century. The south side features geminated windows with a view of the Luberon mountains. A stone arch by the dining room door opens into a little library where there is a cup-marked stone found in the village, a little allusion to Neolithic times.
A hall area leads to the kitchen. A few steps go up to a little lounge, with a stone fireplace, mullioned windows on the north and south sides, a French ceiling and stone corbels. This little lounge was reached at the time of the French Revolution by a wooden stairway which led to the central square on the north side, it was a tavern where locals came to play cards and drink, a coin bearing the image of Louis XVI was found here, together with several clay pipes. Outside the lounge, a stairway typical of Provence, with terracotta tiles steps, walnut wood nosing and a wrought iron handrail, goes up to the second floor.

Second floor
A first landing provides access, on one side, to a large library, steeped in soft light via a south-facing, mullioned window, a French ceiling, a small alcove opens on to a south-west facing terrace, protected from the Mistral winds, with a panoramic view over the entire Luberon mountain range.
A few steps, on the other side of the landing, lead to a first bedroom on the east side. A north-facing mullioned window, old terracotta floor tiles, a French ceiling, followed by a hall area which leads to the main bedroom, with a toilet and shower area awaiting completion.
2nd level – half-level:
After a few steps, a third bedroom, with openings on the north and south sides, a superb view dominating the distant hills.

Third floor
A large bedroom-workshop under the roof, including a section which is less than 1.8 m high.
Cottage
Reached via the south facade on the garden level from a little priest’s courtyard, with a separate entrance, once stables and a pigsty, this independent dwelling can also be accessed via the main entrance hall. An open-plan kitchen opening on to a dining room, a few steps under a gothic stone arch lead to a small bathroom and toilet. A corridor weaves its way between the stone walls and leads to a large bedroom where two old wells-water storage tanks are to be found; a mezzanine houses a child’s bedroom. A few steps go down from the kitchen to a vaulted cellar, ideal for storing wine and food.

An independent dwelling

Reached via the south facade on the garden level, with a separate entrance from a little priest’s courtyard and also from the main entrance, once stables and a pigsty, this independent dwelling spans approx. 85 m². An open-plan kitchen adjoins a dining room. A few steps under a gothic stone arch lead to a small bathroom and toilet, then, a corridor weaves its way between the stone walls and leads to a large bedroom, with two old wells-water storage tanks. A mezzanine houses a child’s bedroom. A few steps go down from the kitchen to a vaulted cellar, ideal for storing wine and food.

The outbuilding

The north facade which was in 1687 “….a shop-house on the square, home to Jean-Baptiste-Carbonnel and shop of Sébastien-Santon, faces the square and the street”, the openings of which, renovated in keeping with the times, still feature a basket-handle arch and the geminated windows, separated by a column, topped with an ornate capital. Now a luxurious outbuilding, it is used for storage purposes and could house a heat pump or any other form of heating suited to the premises, providing necessary comfort to the entire building.

Our opinion

The density and the thickness of the stone, the cleverly calculated openings designed such that light and warmth pleasantly meet that expected by humans in their daily way of life: this delicate balance is the product of a land steeped in sunshine and deep colours. The extraordinarily bright light strikes against the walls. The inside therefore reveals a temperate atmosphere in contrast to the outside. A pleasant, balanced way of life exists here all year round. Happiness is uniquely housed in the embrasures of the mullioned and geminated windows, some looking out over the natural surroundings, others the everyday goings on in the street. The simplicity of the materials and the intimacy of the rooms immediately make the house warm and welcoming. Time appears to be ever standing still and the way of life the simplest in the world.

690 000 €
Fees at the Vendor’s expense


See the fee rates

Reference 194867

Land registry surface area 120 m2
Main building surface area 300 m2
Outbuilding surface area 30 m2
Number of bedrooms 5

French Energy Performance Diagnosis

Consultant


Claude Reinhart +33 1 42 84 80 85

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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.

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