Buy a home in one of these French literary locations

PUBLISHED: 19:23 04 August 2020

You could own a home in Peter Mayle's beloved Menerbes, the setting of A Year In Provence

You could own a home in Peter Mayle's beloved Menerbes, the setting of A Year In Provence

Archant

If you lust over French villages in the pages of a novel, what about the chance to live in one yourself?

Marseille, the home of Dumas' protagonist, the Count of Monte Cristo (c)sam74100/Getty ImagesMarseille, the home of Dumas' protagonist, the Count of Monte Cristo (c)sam74100/Getty Images

One of France’s best-known adventure novels, The Count of Monte Cristo was written in 1844 by Alexandre Dumas, also author of The Three Musketeers. It takes place during the era of the Bourbon Restoration and tells the story of heroic Edmond Dantès, a young merchant sailor who is falsely accused by three of his friends, and is subsequently imprisoned on an island fortress. Through luck and ingenuity, Dantès embarks on a quest to seek revenge on the wrongdoers and restore his reputation as a good man, and finds extraordinary wealth in the process.

Property near Marseille on the market with LeggettProperty near Marseille on the market with Leggett

The story begins in Marseille, the sunny and bustling prefecture of Bouches-du-Rhône, and continues at the foreboding prison island of Château d’If, just off the coast. A decidedly more pleasant place to be banished to would be this charming villa in the heart of La Penne-sur-Huveaune, a pleasant town half an hour from Marseille. It has five large bedrooms, a beautiful garden with a pool and terraces, and an independent studio. It’s on the market for €880,000 with Leggett.

The pretty village of Lavardens in Gers (c)rustamank/Getty ImagesThe pretty village of Lavardens in Gers (c)rustamank/Getty Images

Chocolat, the 1999 novel by Joanne Harris, is beloved among Francophiles, as is the 2000 film adaptation starring Juliette Binoche. The story follows Vianne Rocher, a single mother with a gift for magic, who arrives in a small village to follow her dream of opening a chocolaterie. Despite the protests of the villagers, she gradually makes her place in the community with kindness, chocolate, and a little magic.

Property in Lavardens on the market with Compass ImmobilierProperty in Lavardens on the market with Compass Immobilier

The novel is set in the fictional village of Lansquenet-sous-Tannes, described as a community of a few hundred people in Gers. Though Vianne’s village may not be real, there are dozens of beautiful communes in the department that might as well be straight out of the novel. Among them is Lavardens, where this delightful three-bedroom stone house has stunning castle views. It’s on the market for €158,000 with Compass Immobilier.

The historic town of Rouens was the inspiration for the setting of Madame Bovary (c)RossHelen/Getty ImagesThe historic town of Rouens was the inspiration for the setting of Madame Bovary (c)RossHelen/Getty Images

Another famous work set in France is Gustave Flaubert’s Madame Bovary, which was tried for obscenity following its publication in 1856. It follows dull local doctor Charles Bovary and his beautiful, discontented wife Emma, whose desire for romance and luxury leads her into a life of adultery and deceit. The notorious tale is set in a town near Rouen, Normandy, where Flaubert was born and grew up.

Property near Rouens on the market with SextantProperty near Rouens on the market with Sextant

12km outside Rouen is the little town of Boos, which offers a school, pharmacy, garden centre and other amenities. It’s the location of this spacious five-bedroom home family home, which also comes with an attractive garden, large garage, cellar and outbuildings. It’s on the market for €299,000 with Sextant French Property.

Menerbes, the setting of Peter Mayle's bestselling memoir (c)trabantos/Getty ImagesMenerbes, the setting of Peter Mayle's bestselling memoir (c)trabantos/Getty Images

When former advertising director Peter Mayle and his wife left the rat race for a 200-year old farmhouse in Provence, they were faced with a whole new set of challenges, from unexpected weather to adjusting to local customs. They also discovered a wonderful way of life, an eclectic community and the many offerings of the region. Peter recorded their first year in the farmhouse in his memoir A Year in Provence, which went on to be a bestseller and encouraged many others to make a move.

Property in Menerbes on the market with Beaux VillagesProperty in Menerbes on the market with Beaux Villages

The book is set in the village of Menerbes, the location of the Mayles’ farmhouse, and you could own your own home in the very same village in the form of this lovely old farmhouse. Though it has 12th-century origins the property has been renovated into a stunning family home, with six bedrooms, huge living areas, over a hectare of land and beautiful views of the village. It’s on the market for €1.36m with Beaux Villages.

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