Newspaper article International New York Times

The Grand Homes of Southwest France ; Elongated Elegance Is on Display in Estates Known as the Chartreuse

Newspaper article International New York Times

The Grand Homes of Southwest France ; Elongated Elegance Is on Display in Estates Known as the Chartreuse

Article excerpt

An estate in the Perigord Noir area of the southern Dordogne region exemplifies the elongated elegance of the stately home known as the chartreuse.

It is for good reason that the Dordogne region of southwest France is known as the land of 1,001 chateaus: It is thought to have more grand homes than any other part of the country, and the range is almost as varied as that of French cheese.

"There is a fabulous wealth of architecture here -- everything from the 11th century to Renaissance to the modern day," said Jim Pattinson, a property consultant with an affiliate of Chestertons International in southwest France. "Sometimes you get a mix of everything in one. It's living history."

Fairy-tale castles perch on hilltops, sturdy forts guard riverbanks, and ivy-clad manor houses nestle in lush valleys. One noble type of stately home, typical of the area, is the chartreuse, a long narrow house distinctive for having all of the principal living areas, reception rooms and bedrooms, on the same floor. With architecture inspired by the monks of the Chartreuse region, it became a popular style for country houses among the Dordogne bourgeoisie in the 18th century.

La Forge du Roy, a grand home near Les Ezyies in the Perigord Noir area of the southern Dordogne, exemplifies this elongated elegance. The house, which is being sold by the Maxwell Storrie Baynes estate agency, an affiliate of Christies International Real Estate, for 3.5 million euros, or $3.9 million, has a main house with 600 square meters, or almost 6,500 square feet, of living space.

High ceilings, mellow stone walls and open fireplaces characterize the reception and dining rooms, which lead off either side of a large entrance hall. Painted wood paneling and a Louis XIV style of decor, with chandeliers and rich upholstered furniture, lift the simplicity and create warmth.

Some of the historical features, which have been preserved, are of particular interest. Above the windows, on the outside of the house, are distinctive stone scallop shell designs -- a sign that the chartreuse was on the old pilgrimage route that leads to Santiago de Compostela, in northern Spain. …

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