Inspired by Brittany

Nicholas Elliott works on a piece of in art in the beautiful Brittany countryside

Nicholas Elliott works on a piece of in art in the beautiful Brittany countryside - Credit: Archant

Discover the strong cultural identity, clement climate and distinctive creatire flair of Brittany, with Beverley Smith

Nicholas Elliott's home near Josselin is for sale (www.leggettfrance.com)

Nicholas Elliott's home near Josselin is for sale (www.leggettfrance.com) - Credit: Archant

Daisaku Ikeda, the Japanese Buddhist philosopher who was voted the most spiritually influential living person, once gave a lovely quote which I thought sums up the spirit of life here in Brittany particularly wonderfully:

“You must not for one instant give up the effort to build new lives for yourselves,” he said. “Creativity means to push open the heavy, groaning doorway to life”.

We moved to France in 2006 and ever since I became an immobilier I have been lucky enough to help people from all over the world build new lives for themselves in Brittany. I’ve had to push open some ‘heavy and groaning’ barn doors during this period too.

I know that all regions of France have a claim to fame and you just need to flick through the pages of French magazines to see what a vibrant and attractive country it is. But there’s something special about Brittany.

I don’t know if it’s the sea breezes that come in from both the Côte d’Émeraude and the Cote d’Amour which cause some kind of creative explosion in the middle, but there’s definitely something in the air here.

The countryside is just that little bit greener, the markets a little bit fresher, the houses a tad more cute and the people a wee bit more creative.

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Take my client Nicholas Elliott, for example, a fine artist whose work can be found in collections in the UK, Europe and USA. He has recently put his house up for sale as he has been given the opportunity to attend the famous academy in Florence.

Nicholas lives close to Josselin in Morbihan and started an association for les artistes du coeur de la Bretagne which strives to promote arts and crafts in the heart of Brittany. He also hosts summer exhibitions in the centre of the town with other local artists, potters, glassworkers and artisans as well as teaching children from the age of seven upwards. He finds this particularly rewarding as they do not have preconceived ideas and, excuse the pun, their minds are a blank canvas.

His house is on the edge of a hamlet, overlooking the forest of Lanouée and contains a simply beautiful studio which has been converted from an old barn. It is spacious, light and has cathedral-style ceilings which are around six metres high.

The house itself is charming, with three bedrooms and 140m² of habitable space. The gardens have lovely views over the forest and countryside and this is truly a haven of tranquillity, ideal for creative types and lovers of the outdoor life. The asking price is €130,800 but, sadly, Nicholas will be taking his artwork with him.

MEMORY LANE

Another client is a lovely retiree called Peter Harris. Peter and his wife have been living in La-Gree-St-Laurent since 2004 when he bought a run-down old property that at one stage had been the village bar.

Peter is a retired engineer and, along with local artisans, he took great delight in refurbishing the house and also creating a small museum.

The whole village environment had taken him back to his childhood when his father made bicycles for all the family. Peter has collected dozens of historic bikes and motorcycles as well as related memorabilia and some sensational carriage lamps from the early 1900s, and he even has some small steam engines.

The museum is open every day in the summer and has attracted tourists from all over the world, as well as hosting lots of local schoolchildren.

It’s time to fully retire now though and the property is on the market for €210,600. It is a superb four-bedroom family home with business potential – there’s no need to continue running it as a museum so the possibilities are endless. You could start another business, reopen the café or simply extend the house.

The house itself has a whopping 186m² of habitable space with tiled floors and a beautiful woodburner. It also has a lovely decked terrace area which overlooks the back garden. With grounds of 2,620m², there’s certainly plenty of room to enjoy the Brittany sunshine.

PROPERTY MARKET

The average property price in Brittany is €155,000 according to the Notaires de France and the two departments I cover are Côtes-d’Armor and Morbihan. There is a slight difference in average price between these two departments with Côtes-d’Armor having an average price of €128,000 compared to €170,000 in Morbihan, with the coastal area around Lorient attracting the highest prices.

Beverley Smith is an agent commercial working with Leggett Immobilier

www.frenchestateagents.com/brittany-property