Holiday Homes: Buying a home in the Tarn, south west France, where you can live la belle vie from £275,000

Keith Perry
Views over the Tarn

In the film The Hundred-Foot Journey, set in a picturesque village in south-west France, Helen Mirren plays Madame Mallory, a snooty restaurateur who does battle with the Indian family opening a restaurant next door.

The belle epoque chateau that stood in for her fine dining establishment was, in fact, La Durantie, where British holidaymakers can live out the same French idyll.

After a refurbishment, the buyers of the new hamlet-style holiday homes, will automatically become members of the country club in the chateau’s grounds, where they will be able to dine in Madame Mallory’s restaurant to their heart’s content.

“We’re keeping for posterity some of the changes the film crew made to the chateau,” says Jeanne Boden, director of La Durantie, who also played an extra in the film. When finished, the country club will have a bistro, drawing room, library and two private dining rooms.

The development is now nearing completion of its first three hamlets consisting of 17 one to five bedroom homes in phase one. They have sold six homes already (two to British buyers) and have five reservations for the properties, which comprise of one and two-storey detached houses with private gardens and integrated pools, set within the estate’s landscaped gardens with shared courtyards.

Situated near the historic Cathar town of Castelnau-de-Montmiral in the Tarn, Toulouse airport is under an hour’s drive away and the house itself has a fascinating history.

In the 13th century, it was part of a large landholding belonging to the Count of Toulouse, but during the wars, it was nuns that ran the estate. It’s had several owners since, including the Schwarzkopf family, owners of the cosmetics empire, during the 1980s.

Built using local materials and traditional design cues from this part of south-western France, the homes in this phase are built on a gentle south-facing slope, and many enjoy views of rolling vineyards and the surrounding oak forests.

The interiors of the homes feature high ceilings of oak beams, open-plan living rooms that open out onto spacious verandas and terraces via floor-to-ceiling glass sliding doors. Pools are integrated into the design of each home, so that they can be seen and accessed directly from your living room.

During the cold winter months, inbuilt fireplaces or wood burners, soft-coloured limestone floors and exposed wood beams create cosy comfort, and there’s room-by-room temperature-controlled reversible air conditioning, too.

The Castlenau

Owners can use their property privately or opt for a combination of both investment and private use. La Durantie offers a buy-to-rent option, which can be tailored to meet individuals’ lifestyle requirements through the French leaseback system, where buyers used a French government-backed scheme to reclaim 20 per cent VAT on the purchase price and receive a guaranteed rental income.

The management company guarantees a minimum of 2.8 per cent per annum after all charges (including the management for the property, common parts, pool and garden and club membership).

The more time you make it available for rental, the better the return.”The idea is to create a real community with small groups of houses grouped around communal courtyards, which is a building motif of the Tarn,” director Boden said.

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Jan Lawson, a 54-year-old businesswoman from Ripon, North Yorkshire, is now a part of the La Durantie community after she bought a two bedroom Corduries house for £333,000.

“I was particularly attracted to the Tarn because there are fewer British expats than other areas such as the Dordogne,” she says, “and instead much more opportunity to integrate with the locals and experience the real France.

“For me, the thing that sets La Durantie apart from other properties is the onsite facilities and the management team. Knowing that my property would be fully taken care was probably the main attraction for me.

“This provides a safety net and removes the worry of owning a holiday home abroad where you don’t speak the local language. It has all the things you would enjoy about owning a big house, but without the upkeep.”

La Durantie, Tarn, from €275,000

Call +33 (0)5 81 02 61 06 or visit

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