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and restaurants,’ recommends Mr Jannsens. Price-wise, business has


been slow for houses marketed above €1.5 million and from €2 million upwards, again, ‘everything is nego- tiable,’ he adds.


‘The money is here, but more hidden away than in St-Rémy. Everyone likes to keep a low profile in the Lubéron’


To the south of the Lubéron, in the


area around Lourmarin (known locally among anglophones as ‘Peter Mayle country’), prices tend to be a little higher because you’re that much closer to the action in Aix-en-Provence. They hit the headlines when Lady Hamlyn, the widow of publishing magnate Paul Hamlyn, was advised to put her 17th-century château near Lourmarin on the market with quite a bold price tag. ‘The original asking price was close to€30 million, which—despite its excellent condition and 136 acres—


was still a crazy sum. It’s now on for €15 million,’ says M. Honen. ‘That’s much closer to its true value.’


Renovating a house


in Provence Anyone thinking of tackling a project in France from a distance would be wise to first understand how the sys- tem there differs. ‘We bought a house in Eygalières, Les Alpilles, which needed a full renovation job,’ explains Rachel Russell, a mother of two based in Wimbledon. ‘The house was built in the 1980s and had lots of character, but the rooms inside were badly con- figured and the garden was bland.’ Rachel and her husband, John, set


about finding an architect to help them, but soon it became clear that they needed something more. ‘In Britain, we’re used to having a gen- eral contractor who will organise the various tradesmen on site, but, in France,


it’s completely different.


Basically, there are lots of artisans— the painters, the carpenters, wood people, the guys who work with mar- ble—so you can end up with between 15 and 20 independent people work- ing on site. It’s therefore critical to have someone to manage them.’ In her hunt, she came across David


Price Designs (00 33 4 90 54 36 04; www.davidpricedesign.com), an Alpilles-


Painted by van Gogh when he was living in St-Rémy, this house, set in 14 acres, requires total renovation. Through Winkworth


International, €1.49 million (020–7870 7181)


and Mougins-based designer. ‘He works with the interior designer, Nina Laty (00 33 6 16 79 76 12; www. ninalaty.com), and, as we were look- ing for someone to help with that side, too, this seemed a good solu- tion,’ explains Mrs Russell. ‘He drew up the plans, got the permissions through, organised all the work on site and had everything delivered— all of which would have been impossible to manage remotely.’ She continues: ‘For the interiors,


I sat down with Nina, who had all the knowledge of where to find things locally. Even though everything has been done, right down to the bed linen, she’s ensured that the house doesn’t look like a showroom—it has real warmth.’


Provence designers and architects


Bruno Lafourcade (www.architecture- lafourcade.com) has ‘been responsible for restoring a large number of the important properties in the region,’ says Mrs Templeton. ‘Also, in Avignon there is another highly respected architect, Jean-Marie Renaud (www. renaud-architecture.ff). M. Honen recommends Catherine


-69 :(3, Á T


See and smell Provence


This 19th-century mas stands in a generous garden of about five acres that harmonise with the spectacular views of Bonnieux in the Lubéron. It comes with six bedrooms, a large


reception room with striking picture windows and a caretaker’s house. €4.95 million through Knight Frank (020–7629 8171)


52 Country Life International, Spring 2014


Auffret (who was responsible for decorating La Coquillade hotel; she’s based in L’Isle sur la Sorgue; 04 90 38 38 69). ‘She works with Provence Home Sitting,’ continues M Honen. ‘If you also need a professional prop- erty-management company in the Lubé- ron, they’re very good,’ he adds (www. provencehomesitting.com).


www.countrylife.co.uk/international





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