A centuries-old French chartreuse
Chassenat is a charming 18th century chartreuse (manor house), situated in the idyllic French countryside. Built originally for a vineyard estate, this historic house has been owned by our family since 1981. In the past few years, we’ve made the house available to rent so that more people can enjoy this special place.
The entire property accommodates 14 people; 8 in the manor house and 6 in the cottage. We rent it to just one party at a time during the high season. There is ample room inside and out and it is perfect for larger groups. However, smaller parties will also be comfortable and cosy in the manor house, which can be rented without the cottage.
Now we have recently sold Chassenat. A logical step for us, after 23 years, but of course also with a little pain in our hearts.
The estate encompasses 9 hectares and is surrounded by vast fields, farms and forests. There is a secluded, private swimming pool to enjoy in the summer months. They say you can “Live like God in France” and that is indisputably true at Chassenat. You’ll enjoy long, lazy days in a beautiful home and a base from which to visit the area and enjoy the delicious local specialties such as wine, cheese, oysters, fresh fruit and nuts.
Chassenat is in the Dordogne, in the middle of the Périgord Vert. It is located near Brantôme and Mareuil, between the larger towns of Angoulême and Périgueux. This is a countryside of trees, water bird song and fresh air, providing a holiday splendidly immersed in the beauties of nature.
Chassenat is encompassed by land belonging to the estate and the area is happily undeveloped. You’ll be surrounded by lakes (picturesque though not suitable for swimming), small woods and fields. The house is accessed via a one-lane road and very few cars pass during the day. The old barns, animal stalls and gîte create a courtyard in front of the house, providing additional privacy and atmosphere. The stone outbuildings are still primarily intact and used to store the lawn mowers, flower pots, wood for the open hearth and all of the other things needed to maintain a comfortable house.
A swimming pool lies in a small meadow at the side of the house and the grounds are liberally peppered with lawn chairs and tables. There is also a trampoline and ping pong table. Depending on the season, you’ll find trees laden with apples, figs, persimmons and walnuts.
THE MANOR HOUSE
The house dates from 1728. It is in very good condition and retains the details and atmosphere of an authentic French country estate house; wooden floors, high ceilings, large many-paned windows with wooden shutters – and the enticing smells of beeswax, wood fires and freshly mown grass. Thick stone walls keep it cool in summer and warm in winter. The front of the house is landscaped and has a delightful round fountain. An impressive curved stone staircase leads up to the front door. The small terrace at the top is the ideal place to look out over the cool shadows of the courtyard or at the stars in the night sky.
The manor house has a total area of 600 square meters on two floors. On the ground floor are two original bedrooms with double beds. Two more bedrooms (from a modern renovation) are on the upper floor; one with a double and one with two single beds. All four bedrooms are en suite, three have a bathtub.
The living room has a huge fireplace, a large desk and comfortable sofas and chairs. The dining room contains a long wooden dining table and chairs and a piano. The kitchen, situated between these two rooms, is simple and cozy. The upper floor attic has a very large sitting and recreation room with many books, a pool table, drawing table, benches and plenty of space to play. A WC, utility room (with the washing machine) and additional storage are in the original service and workrooms below in the basement.
The house has a few idiosyncrasies arising from its age and our desire to create a balance between modern convenience and authenticity. So while there is a wifi connection, the house has no TV (the gîte has) or DVD player. Additionally, there is central heating on only the ground floor and we do not have a tumble dryer. (There is a clothes line at the end of the courtyard and the French sun often dries within an hour.) They're small things – but their absence helps preserve the authenticity and character you'll find at Chassenat.
The cottage is in one of the courtyard outbuildings and was originally a stable and pair of Agricultural Labourers' houses. Renovation in 2011 merged the buildings and it is now a comfortable cottage / house of 200 square meters. There is a large living and dining area with a kitchen on the ground floor. On the first floor there are 3 double bedrooms and two bathrooms, one with a bath. While modern and comfortable, many original features of the old buildings have been retained and give it character. From the cottage windows, you have a wide view over the surrounding rolling fields.
BRIEF HISTORY OF THE MANOR HOUSE
In the 18th century, large vineyards carpeted the land in the Périgord Vert region between Mareuil and Bourdeilles. The chartreuse was the traditional large house built for these wine estates in the Dordogne. The house is constructed of great blocks of buff-coloured, local stone upon a vaulted basement which contains the former kitchens and wine cellars. The building has a simple layout with harmonious proportions and is topped with a wonderful 'Mansard' roof. This roof and the stone ornamentation around the windows is characteristic of late 17th century Louis XIII style.
A GREAT MAN
Chassenat was built by Dr. Jean Lacouture in 1728. He was a pious and generous man and his legacy is greater than this lovely house. He also used his wealth to improve the lives of the poor in the region. In his will, he expressed the desire for his fortune to be devoted to "the establishment and maintenance of a charity, which would provide food for the poor of Brantôme and the surrounding area”, and to "the establishment in the same city of two Christian schools for the education of poor boys and girls." Furthermore, the money should benefit the poor of Monsec and the Cercles Léguillac. What remained of his fortune was paid to the church to "let say a large number of masses for his soul and that of his family."
Since the early eighties, the estate has been owned by our family. We cherish the history and authenticity of Chassenat and are pleased to share it with our guests.