with outbuildings, guest house and 6.3 ha of grounds in the heart of the County of Armagnac
In the French department of Landes in the village of Gabarret, right in the heart of the Bas-Armagnac region, the property is situated in an area bordering the Gers and Lot-et-Garonne. Although in the middle of the countryside, local shops and services are within easy cycling distance.
It is also close to the spa town of Barbotan-les-Thermes, where Henri IV and Montaigne used to come to 'take the waters'. Not far away, the Lac de l'Uby and its leisure park offer a host of water sports and fun activities. There are several 18-hole golf courses 15, 30 or 40 km away. Finally, the Atlantic Ocean and the Pyrenees with their ski resorts are less than 2 hours away.
The nearest airports are Pau, Toulouse and Bordeaux, roughly 90, 170 and 130 km away respectively. Agen railway station, less than 1 hour from the property, connects to Paris-Montparnasse in 3 hrs 10 mins.
Protected from any disturbance by a 400-metre-long shaded driveway separating the castle from a local road, the edifice stands on the grounds of the former base-court of the feudal site, whose moats have only recently been filled in.
The former feudal estate comprises three independent buildings framing a lawned esplanade, with fairly flat, open grounds surrounded by majestic trees.
The main two-storey brick dwelling in the centre has unfinished garrets and is flanked by a square tower to the west.
To the east, a former timber-framed farmhouse, set apart at right-angles, has been converted into guest accommodation. This house has a ground level with an upper storey under the roof and looks out over a grove of trees to the pool area on the eastern side, set apart from the dwellings and out of sight.
On the other side of the central lawn, opposite the west elevation of the guest house, a long building with lime-rendered facades spans two storeys. A workshop and sheds are located on the eastern side of this building. On the south side, a grass-covered ramp provides access to a former winery partly below ground, with a considerable roof height.
The three- and four-pitched roofs with monk-and-nun tiles are emphasised by two rows of overhanging cornices - except for the roof of the tower, which has flat tiles. The rendered stone elevations have symmetrical straight or arched windows, topped with glazed transoms and fitted with shutters on the main facade of the castle. On the other sides, the windows are simpler, of different sizes and protected by shutters.
The fortified house
Rectangular in plan, the main building has three storeys, one of which is in the roofspace and cannot be converted. It has a roof with three pitches. Built of terracotta bricks, the thickness of the walls (around 150cm) testifies to the age of the building, which was erected in the 14th and 16th centuries.
The main south-facing facade is rendered in natural lime and decorated with a subtle faux-stone pattern. Reflecting the alterations carried out in the 18th century, it features five bays with tall windows topped by lintels with slight basket-handle arches.
A square, three-storey tower abuts the building on the north-western side. It has a high, four-pitched roof with terracotta finials and a mullioned window on its south facade.
The ground floor
The central driveway leading to the main entrance of the property splits in two at the level of the south-facing outbuilding and converges in front of the residence, forming a rectangle around the lawn of the courtyard. From here, a flight of stone steps leads up to a double wooden door adorned with a pediment supported by two pilasters, topped by an entablature and a slightly projecting cornice. As is often the case in Gascony homes, the entrance leads into a vast hallway, with the sitting room and kitchen on either side. The entire level is floored in grey waxed concrete, under which underfloor heating has been installed to ensure optimum comfort in winter for the different rooms, all of which feature high ceilings.
On the south-eastern side, the rooms have been opened up to create a vast hall lit by tall, small-paned wooden windows and by four loopholes. The impression of space and volume is enhanced by the plastered ceilings, painted in the same brilliant white as the walls. A large wood-burning stove provides heating in the sitting room during the colder months.
On the other side of the entrance hall, a fully fitted kitchen is built around a central island abutting a semi-partition. This contemporary, uncluttered kitchen is at the same time functional and comfortable, thanks to its soundproofed ceiling. A grassed terrace to the west provides a place to enjoy meals as soon as the first rays of sunshine appear.
Accessed from the kitchen, there is a cool bedroom with en suite shower room and toilet in the tower. A guest lavatory under the main staircase completes the level, which has been designed in a minimalist style to provide streamlined comfort and calm.
The first floor
At the end of the hallway, the original double flight staircase with its wide wooden strips leads to a landing serving two sleeping areas on either side. The upstairs has been harmoniously restored and renovated using the finest materials: poplar in natural tones for the ladder parquet, solid oak for the shutters and for the exposed ceiling joists. A long full-depth landing on the south-west side leads to a spacious, light-filled bedroom with shower room and lavatory.
To the west, a corridor perpendicular to the landing provides access to the attic via a narrow straight wooden staircase and to a bedroom on the upper floor of the tower, lit from the south by a tall mullioned window. The bedroom conceals an embrasure in the western wall and has a simple fireplace with a wooden lintel. The terracotta floor enhances the authenticity of this vast space. A shower room and lavatory round off the comfortable master bedroom on this level.
Also perpendicular to the landing, a small corridor to the east leads to two bedrooms sharing a bathroom and separate lavatory. The south-east bedroom boasts a historical treasure that has been meticulously restored: one of the walls features a fresco painted predominantly in shades of red and green between the late 16th and early 17th centuries. According to research undertaken, it depicts a battle between horsemen and infantrymen in a valley dominated by the feudal edifice that seems to have been the castle.
Accessed via a narrow wooden staircase, the attic is perfectly insulated but cannot be converted because of the roof beams.
On the other hand, the timberwork of the tower is remarkable and could justify converting the top floor into living space.
The guest house
A former stable, this modest building has been considerably remodelled to create a comfortable country-style guest house. The building comprises a garden level topped by a first floor with sloping ceilings. Built in part of half timbering and brick, the dwelling has a four-pitched roof. A wisteria climbs up two of the four ochre lime-rendered facades. The windows have retained their original appearance, typical of farmhouses in the Landes region. The stone frames of the arched windows on the south facade have brick lintels.
The ground floor
The guest house comprises a living room with an open-plan kitchen, a small sitting room, a shower room and a lavatory. The flooring on this level is of old terracotta tiles surrounding huge square cement slabs. The ceilings are recent, with exposed beams and joists. In a corner of the floor, a small cubbyhole conceals a water heater.
The first floor
A wooden staircase leads to a landing serving two bedrooms with slightly sloping ceilings, exposed beams and carpets covering the original wooden floors, a shower room, a separate lavatory and a small wardrobe.
A long building with external features similar to those of the guest house borders the courtyard on its west side. The main facade features four slightly arched windows to the north and two arched doors with transom windows opening into a workshop to the south. In the centre, a porch shelters the entrance to the storage areas. A mudbrick wall separates the courtyard level from the former winery at the rear. This large space, which can be accessed by vehicles is protected by tall, heavy wooden doors. It is high enough to create an upper storey. The flooring is gravel for most of the building, with a slab at the back on which a pellet and wood-fired boiler has been installed.
In the future, these outbuildings could be used for corporate functions or family receptions or, more peacefully, to shelter vintage cars.
To the south of the castle, on either side of the tree-lined driveway leading to the main residence, two vast meadows further enhance the rural character of the site.
To the north, a meadow extends to a border of mature trees that mark the boundary of the property.
Throughout the grounds, there are a number of noteworthy trees, mainly oaks, alongside younger specimens, including many shrubs, both climbing and non-climbing, and low beds of ornamental flowers and aromatic plants. In front of the main building, not far from an ancient stone fountain, there are also some square vegetable patches.
Finally, in the eastern part of the property, not far from the guest house, there is a swimming pool measuring approx. 6 x 12 m, bordered by stone terraces and surrounded by lawns. There is also a small utility cabana hidden in the groves that hide the buildings to the west.
Astonishment. This is the feeling that dominates when entering the castle. There is no doubt that no-one will be indifferent to the choices made during the extensive renovations undertaken to bring the old fortified house into a new era.
The care taken in restoring the exterior, in keeping with the original building, echoes the Bauhaus style applied to the refined interiors. Here, opposites work in harmony to bring out the best of both. Sober colours and shapes, marked lines everywhere, all create a relaxing atmosphere, enchanting lovers of art and history, and turn the home into a comfortable place to live. A perfect example of an ambitious and daring renovation project, skilfully executed and accomplished. And for those Armagnac enthusiasts bold enough, this soil offers the opportunity to replant a vineyard on the appellation's most prestigious terroir.
|Land registry surface area||6 ha 33 a 48 ca|
|Main building surface area||520 m2|
|Number of bedrooms||8|
|Outbuilding surface area||350 m2|
|including refurbished area||150 m2|
Armelle Chiberry du Vignau +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.