Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

THE PEASANTS ARE INSPIRING; Hearty Food, Good Wine and Lovely Scenery -- This Rural Region of Eastern France Has It All, Says Cathy Hawker

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

THE PEASANTS ARE INSPIRING; Hearty Food, Good Wine and Lovely Scenery -- This Rural Region of Eastern France Has It All, Says Cathy Hawker

Article excerpt

Byline: Cathy Hawker

BURGUNDY

TRADITIONAL rural French life is thriving in Burgundy. This region of eastern France less than two hours from Paris is rich culturally and financially, yet the landscape has scarcely changed for centuries. Charolais cattle graze beside shaded canals and neat lines of vines cover the red soil, for this is where Chardonnay and Pinot Noir grapes produce exceptional Grand Cru wines.

The prime wine region of the Cote d'Or stretches in a narrow strip south from Dijon past affluent Beaune. Alluring stone villages have names straight from a fine wine list: Meursault, Puligny-Montrachet, Pommard.

David and Su Bishop from Limehouse bought a stone house three miles from Beaune in 2000. In 2003 they left their jobs -- David as MD of a large building firm, and Su as an architectural designer for Fitch Consultants -- and moved to Burgundy full-time to turn ruins into comfortable homes.

Their company Arena Park has completed 10 tailor-made projects using reclaimed roof tiles, solid oak beams and sandblasted stone walls to create anything from a two-bedroom apartment for [euro]290,000 ([pounds sterling]253,100) to a large family house with garden for [euro]550,000 ([pounds sterling]480,000).

Current projects include an 18th-century vigneron house in Pommard converted into three two-bedroom apartments priced from [euro]290,000 ([pounds sterling]253,100) and a farmhouse conversion into three spacious houses in hilly Meursault priced from [euro]495,000 ([pounds sterling]432,000) for three bedrooms, wine cellar and terrace. In each project the couple and their 14 staff have added new roofs, repositioned doors and windows to flood the property with light and created contemporary interiors.

"Clients want outdoor space, openplan living areas, larger bedrooms and plenty of light," says Su, 52. "It's unusual to get much outdoor space in wine villages, but we try to incorporate it. …

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