Luxury B&B, splendid family home or both? Ruth Wood weighs up the options at a villa that blends the traditions of Gascony with the pleasures of Provence…
Pilgrims have been passing through Maubourguet for hundreds of years. But for many English speakers, this riverside town in the old province of Gascony is off the beaten track.
Those in the know come to enjoy an authentic corner of southwest France known for its hearty cooking, wine and welcome. Some come for the international jazz festival just a few minutes up the road in Marciac; others for the local Madiran red wine, considered the world’s healthiest, due to its high level of antioxidants.
Horse riders pass by on the Route d’Artagnan, the nearby trans-European bridleway. Then, there are the pilgrims who arrive from Provence on one of the four main Chemin- de-St-Jacques-de-Compostelle pilgrimage routes through France. Despite having reached the department of Haute- Pyrenees, they are not in the mountains yet. Maubourguet sits within agricultural plains 35 minutes’ drive north of the international airport at Tarbes and around 90 minutes from the snow-capped Pyrénées.
Even if the pilgrims took a short detour, they could easily miss this architect-designed villa on the edge of town. Surrounded by a hectare of grounds with its own riverbank and woodland, it enjoys a private setting behind electric gates, yet is only a stroll from the amenities and weekly market of the town.
The property has the style and stature of a traditional Gascon manor. But, with its expansive covered terrace, swimming pool and open-plan layout, it is also reminiscent of a Provençal villa. This is a house designed for enjoyment and entertainment, for poolside days and alfresco evenings. Of the six bedrooms, five are ensuite, two are on the ground floor and two are in an independent apartment. So the property could be an indulgent B&B, a generous family home or a combination.
The main entrance opens onto a large open-plan living space with tiled floor, oak beams and 18th-century carved oak fireplace. Sliding doors lead to the poolside terrace, which is partly covered, creating a fabulous alfresco area with integrated barbecue.
The kitchen, accessible from the lounge-diner and terrace, has painted wooden units, a freestanding cooking range and a central island. There is also a utility room and guest cloakroom on this garden level as well as two bedrooms, one with an ensuite shower room.
Upstairs is a large mezzanine, which makes a second lounge or office. Off here is the light- flooded main bedroom suite, with dressing room and shower room. A passage leads onto the fourth bedroom, also ensuite.
A striking feature of the property is the large glazed archway, which opens onto an internal courtyard around which the house and its ancillary buildings are clustered. To the far side, is a turret containing two ensuite bedrooms and next to this is a gym, kitchen area and garage, while below the house is a large utility space. The property has oil-fired central heating plus solar panels, which provide the hot water. There’s more natural hot water in the mountains where you can bathe in thermal springs at Bagnère-de-Bigorre or Barèges or enjoy a hot tub after a day on the ski slopes!!
On the market for €650,000 with Le Bonheur
Lead photo credit : Photo: Bonheur