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House Hunting in … Brittany | ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive 2005 -2017
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This restored chateau, named La Gaudinelaye, dates to the late 17th and early 18th century. It sits in the middle of a grassy park, and its 25-acre grounds include a chapel. The property is south of Rennes.
Credit: Cabinet Le Nail



This chateau, built in the late 17th and early 18th centuries, sits on a 25-acre property in the Brittany region of northwestern France. Shaped like the letter H, it has two aboveground stories and a garden level. Each floor is approximately 3,200 square feet, with reception rooms downstairs and eight bedrooms upstairs. The home was last renovated in 2005, when the roof, kitchens and interiors were all updated, said the owner, Charles Coop, 59, who bought it in 2003.

From a broad terrace, glass doors open onto an entry hall with a series of interconnected rooms on either side: on the right, they include a hunting room, a kitchen and a library; on the left, two reception rooms, a dining room and another, smaller kitchen. On the main floor, the rooms flow into one another through a series of enfilade doorways, but upstairs, the bedrooms are connected by hallways. The master suite, which has a dressing room and a large bathroom, is in the left wing; there are two other full bathrooms and a half-bath upstairs as well. On the garden level is a nonworking kitchen, along with a laundry room, two half-bathrooms and wine cellars.

The property has several outbuildings, including a greenhouse, an old chapel restored in the 19th century, and a caretaker’s house and stable, both unrenovated. There is also a heated pool that was added in 2010, as well as an orchard and parks. The Vilaine river is several hundred feet away.

The city of Rennes, which has a population of more than 200,000, is about 25 miles north; the high-speed train from there to Paris takes about an hour and a half. Nearby towns offer a weekly market, a grocery store and an automobile museum, Mr. Coop said. There is an international airport 23 miles away, near Rennes, and another in Nantes, a little more than 60 miles away.


Compared with other luxury markets in France — especially those in the south or on the Mediterranean coast — the Atlantic coast and the northwest are more affordable, said Ronan Pradeau, founder of France Châteaux Sotheby’s International Realty.

Properties in the south can sell for 20 million euros ($22,837,000) or more, while in Brittany, a beautiful chateau can be had for a million euros, he said; around €1.5 million ($1,712,780) will buy a private island, while €3 million to €4 million ($3,425,550 to $4,567,400) can buy a top-of-the-line property. At the lower end of the luxury market, around €800,000 ($913,481) will buy a well-appointed villa in a desirable location with a water view, he said.

The real estate market in Brittany has been picking up in recent years, Mr. Pradeau said, after a slow descent between 2008 and 2014. Across the region, he estimated, properties built more than five years ago now sell for around €3,200 a square meter (or about $340 a square foot) — almost what they did in 2008. In the past two years, prices have risen about 5 percent a year, he said, and in 2017, the growth has accelerated. That is in line with the general trend in France, he added, although Brittany has been performing somewhat better. An April report by Notaires de France, an association of notaries, attributes this in part to tax advantages and low mortgage rates.

Chateaus are valued comparatively, not by the price per square meter, said François-Xavier Le Nail, the director of Cabinet Le Nail, an agency specializing in high-end historic properties in the northwest of France, which has the listing for this home. Prices reflect the location, size, surroundings, atmosphere and condition of a property — as well as its ability to catch the eye of potential buyers and inspire “coup de foudre,” he said, using the French phrase for love at first sight.

In Brittany, chateau prices have been stable for the past two or three years, Mr. Le Nail said, and the inventory is relatively stable as well. Although the supply is gradually decreasing — as homes fall into disrepair or become less desirable thanks to their land being sold off and buildings constructed nearby — properties like this are more likely to come on the market than to be passed from one generation to the next, Mr. Le Nail said, as owners can no longer live off the land and maintenance is costly.


Most of Mr. Pradeau’s foreign buyers in the past year have been from Belgium, Switzerland and Luxembourg, he said. Mr. Le Nail’s foreign buyers — about 20 percent of his clients, he said — are usually from the United States, Austria, Belgium, the Netherlands and Britain.


Foreigners may buy property in France without restrictions, Mr. Pradeau said, noting that transactions are handled by a notary, and lawyers are rarely involved.

Closing costs are paid by the buyer. They include the notary’s fee and sometimes a real estate commission, and total around 13 percent of the sales price, agents said.

Most foreign buyers pay cash, Mr. Pradeau said, but banks will lend up to 70 percent of the purchase price, agents said.


Rennes tourism: tourisme-rennes.com

Automobile museum: manoir-automobile.fr/home/


French; euro (1 euro = $1.14)


Annual property taxes on this home are around €3,000, or $3,425, Mr. Coop said.

(The New York Times)