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There is a small, little-known corner of the north western end of the huge Rhône-Alpes region in France which is waiting, somewhat patiently, for discovery and greater attention. This area is called ‘Le Roannais’ in the departement of the Loire.
Yes, of course, many tourists, including business men, from the UK and other parts of Europe visit, or drive through the region down the famous rue N7 every year. This is exactly what they often do – drive straight through or around it without stopping and taking a ‘breath’! They are missing a lot.
Roanne is the main township with, for example, France’s second city of Lyon just over an hour’s drive or train journey away.
Vichy, with its famous spring waters, is also nearby, and Saint Etienne on the edge of the stunning, volcanic region of Puy-de-Dôme.
Vineyards decorate the surrounding hillsides, with Cote Roannaise wine, made from Gamay grapes, being the local tipple. Also, the popular vineyards and succulent wines of the Beaujolais are just 45 minutes away.
There is much to see and do – from a large number of heritage sites, medieval villages, (some buildings
Medieval castles and renaissance country houses abound – “Chateau de la Roche” being, probably, the most romantic.
Set on a rocky outcrop in the middle of the Loire, this classic ‘fairytale’ castle Is stunning. Every year in August there is an incredible son et lumiere including dramatic firework displays celebrating its medieval history. (Brilliant for all the family!)
Roanne is surrounded by the uplands known as Monts de la Madeleine, Monts du Beaujolais and Monts du Lyonnais.
They provide breathtaking panoramic views of the Roanne Valley, and are easily accessible for hill-walking, mountain-biking, and, of course, ski-ing and snow-boarding during the winter months.
This is a region which is developing, and is becoming much more easily accessible due to new links to France’s ever-growing auto-route network.
Lyon, in particular, continues to expand, and the Roannais is becoming even more commutable.
Most villages and townships within 25 kilometres of Lyon have seen massive increases in property prices during the last 10 years. The Roannais is less than 50 kilometres away, and is such a ‘prize’ of a place for country living (but with all amenities, shops, entertainment, schools, colleges, etc.), for people wanting to live ‘the life’ whilst working and earning in the city.
There is even the possibility of a direct TGV link into Roanne in the near future. Even now, access to the TGV to Paris and Marseille, for example, is simple with easy connections to Lyon.
The ski resorts of the Alpes are around 3 hour’s drive away, and the popular southern regions and French Riviera are in easy reach.
There are several convenient airports such as Lyon (St.Exupery), Saint Etienne, Grenoble, Chambery, Geneva .
Property opportunities abound, and with all the rapid, ongoing regional development it seems, therefore, to be a particularly good time to invest.
Such opportunities include remarkable, ancient chateaux, farmhouses, barns, and medieval village townhouses (either in the mountains, hillsides, or amongst the forests and rich farmland.
Prices are good. There are absolute bargains and renovation opportunities to be had.
You can pick up a huge chateau for less than 550,000 euros, a farmhouse for less than 150,000 euros, or barn or cottage, ripe for renovation, for less than 50,000 euros.
Prices, of course, like most regions throughout France, vary a lot, and the willingness of the Roannais locals to negotiate is well known.
In the last 10 years property prices have increased throughout the Roannais region, and in the next 5 years, or so, prices, despite the current economic malaise, it is certainly expected that property prices will move upward further.
The combination of Art gallery and Restaurant is not necessarily a brand new idea, but in the attractive township of Roanne in the Roannais, Rhône-Alpes, there is a particularly dynamic restaurant which has succeeded in achieving an excellent balance between exceptional art and high quality cuisine.
This restaurant, aptly-named, ‘Art et Saveurs’ reflects the love of art and eating, and is achieved with dedication, impact, and panache. As soon as you enter this establishment through their large glass doors you are immediately ‘hit’ by a contemporary ambience. A clever combination of moody modernism and exoticism.
Martine and Daniel Dechavanne accommodate you in a beautiful setting which is spacious and artistically themed throughout.
The restaurant is an eclectic ”gallery” of art, sculpture, and artefacts of both professional and amateur artists from around the region. The Roannais is renowned for its richness of creativity in all areas.
There are five large rooms and a shaded terrace, each of these spaces offering a differently styled atmosphere, but all comfortable and relaxing.
Chef Christian Vercelli creates traditional and international cuisine, combining many flavours. This reflects his exceptional experience in top establishments throughout the world. He is a very well-travelled chef and food connoisseur with a special talent!
Art et Saveurs is a ‘fun’ and ‘dynamic’ restaurant. Great for evening ‘soirées’ and for both private and business events. I think we will be hearing more about this restaurant soon!
Also have a look at Martine Dechavanne’s paintings which form part of the Art et Saveur’s extensive “gallery” presentation. Nationally and internationally famous, Martine’s colourful and striking canvasses are painted under the pseudonym “Fauve”. Fauve
Once again ‘Le Cuvage’ is back in French Property News magazine for their February 2009 issue.
Part 6 of Brian Franklin’s ongoing ‘Renovation Diary’ is now stretching towards the finishing line!
Under the title ‘All kitted out!’ Brian’s attention in this month’s editorial turns to the ‘finishing touches’ with fixtures and fittings, but also with some interesting facts and useful guidance.
With all major works completed at the end of 2006, this interesting French renovation story moves on.
As Brian Franklin says in his article: One of the salient reasons our ‘Le Cuvage’ project progressed with such confidence and competence was the detailed pre-planning involved. We employed a French quantity surveyor, along with an independent project assessor, or ‘conducteur’, as our French friends called him.
Before we moved a single lump of earth or hacked into any part of the original building’s structure, we commissioned a comprehensive build programme assessment, and cost estimate by a specialist building ‘economiste’. He organised ‘devis’ (quotations) from a minimum of three different contractor companies before making any recommendations.
The companies were assessed on experience, quality of workmanship, reputation, and approach, as well as price. This pre-estimate and budget confirmation covered all the key areas of the build, including structural works, carpentry, windows and doors, heating and electrics, plumbing, partitioning, plastering, painting, and roofing, etc. The final document was very detailed and professionally put together – in fact, a veritable tome!
Brian covers a lot of detail in his various article about this renovation project, and has provided a great deal of useful and interesting information for anyone aiming to buy and renovate a property in France.
In this particular editorial piece, he goes on to say: ….another aspect of development in the preparatory stages of some building sites is often overlooked – that of earth removal. This can be particularly expensive in France (hiring diggers, lorries, and finding somewhere to dump the soil).
We were lucky. Tons and tons of earth had to be removed at the front of the ‘cuvage’ before any real building work could commence. This was essential to define the surrounding land levels, and to carve out new driveway accesses.
Huge trucks of the cleared earth were moved a very short distance to the rear of the château’s Orangery, owned by some of our French friends, who needed to build up the land to the rear of their property. So free dumping for us, free soil for them! Now the Orangery has enough extra land for a full-sized tennis court.
Brian continues: Progress of the renovation and conversion of Le Cuvage was pretty rapid. In the early stages of a project like this, it always feels like destruction rather than creation, and it was a little sad to see this ancient barn being brutaly disturbed from the slumbers of its historical tranquility.
Brian Franklin’s ‘Top Tips’ when buying and renovating in France, featured in this February issue of French Property News are:
1. Reduce risk by choosing your region well. Proximity to airports, access to autoroutes, schools and other local amenities are all important.
2. Assess the cost of renovation as accurately as possible, including extras. Budget well. Get good local advice.
3. If the project is 170 sq. m. or more, you’ll need to employ a good, locally recommended architect to assess the project and draw up some plans for the local builder to follow.
4. Check and double check what the estimates include (removal of top soil, installation of bathrooms, etc.)
5. It is good to have some honest French friends on the ground to keep an eye on progress for you if you are still resident in the UK. It will also help to get better prices from local contractors.
For more images and information visit ‘Le Cuvage’, where you can also book a holiday and stay in this superb property for a week or more. Or you can treat yourself to a Luxury Gourmet week-end at Le Cuvage.
We expect there will be more about ‘Le Cuvage’ soon. In fact, Brian Franklin’s ‘Renovation Diary’ continues in 2009 French Property News during March and April, followed in May with a ‘Property Spotlight’ on the beautiful Roannais region in the Rhône-Alpes. It’s certainly worth watching out for!