Thursday, 21 September 2017

A Twelfth Century House - where the first time 'buyer' was a member of the Knights Templar... Wow!

Not quite Autumn (officially that is) but the Swallows are fewer and those that are still around are beginning to think about the long flight South and the Virginia Creeper is turning red a sure sign that the weather is about to turn. The Maize field that surrounds the 12th Century, La Commanderie at Yvignac is beginning to look as though it should already be harvested… It's honey coloured now, but the Bretons (probably the French everywhere) use it only as animal feed and so it lingers, extending the golden look in the fields until maybe mid October. The crops, here surrounding the house’s own 1,525 square metres garden, alternate each season with Maize, Wheat, Oil Seed Rape… brilliantly yellow at its most vibrant. That’s the one that best probably sets the house off against its surroundings. It’s vibrant and lush.

A fully renovated 4 Bedroomed stone house amidst open countryside for 340,000€... Amazing? It is!
In a house hunt when the world is your oyster there are probably a few phrases that might draw you in… especially when you begin to focus on Brittany - its closeness to Britain enabling easy journeys back as often as there is a ‘tug’ and far enough away to entice friends and family to visit now and again. With a history, heritage and, with tales of chivalry that to this day ring with authenticity at every turn. Breton history is all around us here and hasn’t been buried under housing developments and ring roads… and references to the Knights Templar and their bricks and mortar (or rather stone and lime plaster) in a building which has stood since the end of 12th Century… Well, it's a definite attraction and why you might want such a house on your viewing list.

It might sound a bit fanciful but Richard and Jacquie Farrant had much of the world to choose from when looking for a house after a career spent in the Arabian Gulf and West Africa... Cyprus, Malta, Portugal, France - Provence, the Camargue, Aquitaine, Morbihan, Finistere, The Pink Granite coast; all were considered. They even looked into the Belgian coast… So there’s thorough! 
Destiny (in the shape of a much loved pet and worn out quarantine laws) stopped them short of making the UK their home again. And, in spite of all of that by way of ‘competition’ the Cotes d’Armor won the day…Narrowed down from 'International' to very, very interesting!


"Let's try the triangle - St Malo - Rennes - St Brieuc they said... Let's stay in a chateau they said... Let's find an apartment in a splendid chateau!” The ‘quest’ was decided months in advance and so, they flew into Charles de Gaulle armed with a long list of potential properties from our website and they took the TGV to Rennes. They had already experienced the high season pace of peace on the roads in southern Brittany. And Richard echoes my own thoughts about the ‘under subscribed’ Breton transport network… “Any more than 3 cars in front of you and they call it a traffic jam!”

After looking at properties morning and afternoon for two weeks they were beginning to have second thoughts; thinking that a French house was maybe not for them. But, having rejected yet another property in Dinan it was now pouring with rain. ‘Viewing weary’ they went back to the agent’s office and spent twenty minutes saying "no! no! no!" to details pulled from the files. Then after an embarrassing number of negatives… a definite ‘maybe’! “Can you please tell us where this one is? We will do a ‘drive by’, and then phone you if we think it may be worth a visit". Jacquie went to sleep in the car. Well it had been a hard and emotional day - and it was still pouring down. So... A House in the Breton countryside? Mmmm? The first thing that struck them about the house when they arrived at its location (apart from how welcoming it looked) was what a joy it seemed to be!

And, what a fine house it is too!… the Cotes d’Armor is a wonderful area of France... The local mixed agriculture, wheat, maize, hay and the yellow rapeseed, the grazing cows; it’s always calm. There's a hush that often makes you wonder where everyone is at any time of the day, apart from those able to enjoy the advantage of leisurely lunches taken in the nearby villages.

Richard and Jacquie’s house is at Le Haut Lannouee, just outside Yvignac La Tour and close to the Yvignac forest. Ten minutes from supermarkets and shops in Broons or Dinan. Dinan! When enjoying a glass of wine at sunset as the sun’s heat is reflected off the mellow stone at La Commanderie it makes you wonder, 800 years ago when this house was new and mediaeval Dinan itself, was probably regarded as a ‘new town’, the house’s owner had little idea that his creation would still be here in the 21st century. Is it me or the wine? 

These days there’s a doctor’s practice 3 miles away in Plumaudan and all amenities within just ten minutes - that’s by car not on horseback! Although you could be forgiven for slipping back in time here! 

The house itself? Ah! Yes...

Close to historic sites, golf courses, the advantages of the sea, spa, sailing ... with possible trips on the Rance, and up to Jersey or Guernsey from St Malo. This is a calm, spacious character house dating from 12th century. 225 m2 of living space, quiet, facing south, in the unspoilt Breton countryside. A house which combines old character and modern facilities, spacious and on 3 levels.
Ground floor: laundry room, toilet, bathroom with large jacuzzi, large fitted kitchen with oak beams and exposed stone work, with table for 6, dining room with table for 12 people, hall, lounge with fireplace and log stove.

Access via two staircases, (one with Stannah Lift)  

1st floor: master bedroom: large bedroom with ornamental fireplace, bathroom and toilet, a 2nd double bedroom, shower and toilet 3rd small bedroom

2nd Floor - currently a large dressing room, but there is potential to make it a 4th bedroom.

Outside:- Double Garage
Large south facing terrace with wooden table, 6 chairs, parasol, swinging chair, and deck chairs
perfect for sitting out in the warm summer evenings.
There is plenty of space in the garden for Trampoline, Badminton, Table Tennis, BBQ etc.,
No doubt the house’s shape and size has been expanded, been chipped away at and remodelled countless times in its 800 years. But it underwent a complete renovation in the 1990’s, to bring it to a level with all of the modern conveniences and attributes and acoutrements that modern occupants would expect:- insulation, secondary glazing, a new roof, central heating etc. Of course, since the 90s there have been additions. And since the renovation the house has a mediterranean style patio facing south, protected from the wind. It overlooks a rear section of the mature garden. The building is in three stages; from an expansive kitchen with modern appliances (including a siemens coffee machine. It's a very efficient working kitchen with a well planned island site around which everything works.  There is large open plan lounge with ancient timber beams, and then to a stylish dining room, alongside a utilities room with an oil fired boiler. Stairs to the rear of the lounge space access the first floor. 

One of the 21st Century additions that the first time buyer (back in the day) would have thought very useful additions (there are many) is a powerful pump which pressurises water from the well for washing the car and watering the garden (water from the well is, of course yours, and more importantly FREE!). Nearby is the garage (which can accommodate two good sized cars). It also serves as a garden store with power points and lighting and for keeping lawn mowers etc. and of course as a log store. In summer the glorious catalpa tree provides welcome shade.

Originally a Commanderie for the Order of the Temple. The Templar Knights passed it to the Hospitalier Order of St John of Jerusalem, and then later, the Order of Malta. The Commanderie combined with that of La Guerche, and in the 17th century Lannouee was the preferred residence. The commander of Lannoue levied tithes on all the lands he had in his fief, but also in Yvignac, Trebedan, Corseul, Saint-Carne, Plénée-Jugon, the fief of the Temple, Bourse, the village of the Hospital, Tramain, the village of the Crosses and the former manor house of the Temple, Plouer, Taden, Plorec, manor called the Temple, Quéver and finally Dinan. Its history is a lot to take in at first but you'll find yourself digging into when you live amongst it!

Richard and Jacquie’s original purchase, La Commanderie, is a great house for a couple accustomed to the space of overseas ex patriate living. It has three bedrooms, two bathrooms, one downstairs with balneo/jacuzzi and with separate wc, the other upstairs with roll top bath and wc. The reception room here is both spacious and full of character, stunning. It features a huge fireplace with a large  wood-burner with glass on three sides to admire the glow… I love these; the nearest you can get to a real open fire but with a draw effect when you close the doors and the heat given off from the iron body of the stove makes a great 13kw extra radiator for hours after. Cosy!! The dining room runs the full length of the building and overlooks the patio.,, which is a great outdoors room in summer. The main loft has access via a proper staircase, and is currently laid out with wardrobes to accommodate as many changes of clothes as you could ever dream of having.

You could muse over the fact that if this beautiful property were to be found in the Home Counties then the price would doubtless be in excess of £1 million + and then, in bemusement, that here in rolling tranquil countryside in the Cote d’Armor, well, 340,000€ (+ Notaire's Fees*) and it's yours... Quite remarkable!... Glass of wine anyone? ? Hard work this relaxation!

If anyone gets this far down the page and would like to view this outstanding property then please, initially, click here to send an e-mail to with your name/phone number - landline and mobile (contact details) and the reference Richard and Jacquie’s Templar House and we will be in touch.
If you haven’t already… then check out the house’s entry on our website:-

*Notaire's Fees:

Notaire's Fees are payable on all property transfers in France, where Notaire's officiate for both buyer and seller. Unlike solicitors in the UK Notaire's are servants of the state and are responsible for a much wider remit than solicitors... their charges and disbursements though will include all of the familiar costs associated with house sales and purchase.

Thursday, 7 September 2017

NOW... That's what I Call House Prices!

Above: Nr Mortain, Lower Normandy, 4 Bedroomed Farmhouse and outbuildings
with about 2.5 acres no neighbours. 106,000€ + Notaire's Fees.

I have been told by the Ads team at Facebook that sponsored/boosted posts, where the photographs carry text on them, are less successful than no text at all. That's just blown a 35 year career in advertising out of the water... but then 'hey', this is 'new media' where video's of kittens are viewed by millions so, what do I know? Actually I can't even link my iphone, ipad and laptop together successfully, so obviously... not much.

But, the way things are shaping up, even though these Brexit jitters have upset the Foreign Currency Exchange rate market the reduction in property prices has created a buyer's market which balances out the cost of buying Brittany and Normandy and moving to or buying a holiday investment France. The reverse effect of the exchange rate ie: people selling in France to move back to UK means that they are getting a very much more beneficial rates of exchange and therefore may be prepared to accept a lower offer than they might in calmer financial times... It's something that someone like me (2% in my maths mock 'O' level) took a long time to grasp... but it's right isn't it?

I am astounded at the great value and seemingly low prices of houses in Brittany and Normandy. As properties come in from our agents on the ground I'm thinking... Hang on prices in the UK are still on the up whilst properties coming in to us just keep starting at lower and lower figures... I've also heard that those people in the UK who always harboured long term plans of buying abroad but who initially, stalled by Brexit and all its uncertainties, are cutting their losses and saying "Sod it... we'll go now!" It's a swings and roundabouts thing - dodgy exchange rate - yes... But much lower prices on the other side - definitely!" So, here are a few ridiculously priced properties (by comparison to UK) for you to coo over... Click the link under each photo to check our site(s)

Above: Lower Normandy • 5 Bedroomed Farmhouse on 5 Acres • Close to Mortain
NEW IN! • €171,500 + Notaire's Fees
Suppose it was near Steyning in West Sussex... £800,000? Probably!

Above: Commana, Finistere • 3 Bedroomed Ex-Weaver's House with 15 hectares of land - Just 3km from the Coast • Just Reduced - Can't believe this astounding value for money!!
€189,000 + Notaire's Fees

Above: South of Lamballle, Cotes d'Armor - Grand Manor House for renovation & 'Spruce-Up' on 1.75 Acres...."Shut the BarnDoor!"
€189,000 + Notaire's Fees (not an error)

Above: Nr Plourin-Plougonven, Finistere, A gorgeous 4 bedroomed Maison de Tisserand on 2600m² garden
€173,200 + Notaire's Fees

So... just a few nice looking bargains and plenty more on
and • If you didn't know before you'll now be seeing what I mean about extreme value for money in Brittany and Normandy and not only are the properties amazing and amazingly priced these regions of France. I know it takes a while for it to sink in that in spite of this Brexit lark giving everyone the ab-dabs and making them put on hold any thoughts of buying in France it is the early bird that gets the worm... and you know what they say... Who Dares... Wins!

As if this makes any difference... You want to go anyway... But - If you travel to view properties in Brittany or Normandy with us then we can offer you a saving on your Brittany Ferries crossing of 10-15%... We will send you a booking reference number when you confirm your appointment to view.

Give us a call on 01903 202272 OR e-mail via


Watch out... There's a Banker About!!

Buy a House in Brittany or Normandy - Definitely! But... Don’t do a Dave! Buying Abroad?  Got a minute? Read this... It could sa...