BIRD’S EYE VIEW

Ben Pal­frey­man takes a tour of an os­trich farm in Char­ente-mar­itime

French Property News - - Business Of The Month -

For many years, the for­ti­fied city of Jon­zac at­tracted vis­i­tors to marvel at its me­dieval ar­chi­tec­ture, ex­plore its stun­ning château and wan­der along its criss-cross­ing river­side walks. Then, in the 1980s, the spa wa­ters were dis­cov­ered, and thou­sands of peo­ple started to make the trip to this spa town to take the wa­ters in its troglodyte ther­mal baths.

If you were to travel just a few min­utes out of town, how­ever, into the Char­ente-mar­itime coun­try­side near Gui­tinières, you may be lucky enough to spot the new­est kids on the block: a field of os­triches.

Fly the coop Hav­ing been a he­li­copter man­u­fac­turer in the lo­cal area for more than 20 years, Ronauld Auxire de­cided he wanted to do some­thing com­pletely dif­fer­ent. A trained chef, he started think­ing about whether he could cre­ate his own range of prod­ucts – and wanted to of­fer some­thing a lit­tle spe­cial.

“Os­trich meat is red, with a fine taste. It is very ten­der and lean and is rich in pro­tein,” he says. “It is also easy to cook and is best served as a steak, in a roast or on a cob­ble­stone grill. It is sim­ply de­li­cious!”

Lo­cated in a quiet set­ting, the en­vi­ron­ment of the farm has been laid out with the birds in mind, Ronauld tells me, with the fields where they live lo­cated far away from any build­ings so they aren’t stressed by noise. The breed­ing pro­gram avoids any ge­net­i­cally mod­i­fied in­ter­fer­ence and in or­der for the wel­fare of the an­i­mals to con­tinue in line with his high stan­dards, Ronauld has of­fered to help and train the new own­ers from the out­set. Also in­cluded in the sale is a web­site, a num­ber of out­build­ings, live­stock equip­ment and ve­hi­cles in­clud­ing a back­hoe and a quad bike.

The lit­tle grey To com­ple­ment the os­trich farm, Ronauld also breeds snails – partly be­cause the small grey Char­ente snail is recog­nised as be­ing the tasti­est, most ten­der and sought-af­ter snail in France. Known in these parts as ‘ cagouilles’, it is com­monly said that they de­rive their unique per­fumed fla­vor and ten­der tex­ture from the Co­gnac-im­bued earth of the re­gion.

The new owner would also be able to take over the man­u­fac­ture of the var­i­ous prod­ucts that the farm cur­rently sells – and, of course, there is the op­por­tu­nity to grow the range as well. Cur­rently, Auxire sells os­trich ter­rine, ril­lettes, liver paté and the huge eggs, while he sells the es­car­gots frozen or canned.

A new home While they have loved work­ing the farm, the Auxires are now look­ing to re­tire to the Mediter­ranean and have put the farm and their home on the mar­ket. The busi­ness and farm, which amounts to 6.5 acres of well-fenced land, is on the mar­ket for €429,500, while the nearby house, which comes with a fur­ther three acres, is on sale for €477,000.

The home it­self is in im­mac­u­late con­di­tion and of­fers four bed­rooms, a mas­ter suite and two bath­rooms plus a well-equipped kitchen (for cook­ing up new recipes to sell in your farm store), din­ing room, liv­ing room and laun­dry. The house also ben­e­fits from a jacuzzi and in­door swim­ming pool – per­fect for re­lax­ing af­ter a long day down on the farm.

The land is well fenced and of­fers the po­ten­tial for added value in­clud­ing eques­trian use or as a small­hold­ing along­side the farm. Tak­ing ad­van­tage of the Char­ente-mar­itime sun­shine, the house also ben­e­fits from so­lar pan­els, pro­vid­ing sus­tain­able en­ergy to the prop­erty.

If you are look­ing to take on some­thing a lit­tle unique, this op­por­tu­nity could be per­fect for you. The busi­ness is three or four years old, mean­ing that while it has been es­tab­lished well, and you could move in and con­tinue from where Ronauld leaves off, it is still fairly young, of­fer­ing plenty of scope to grow. And sur­rounded by the many won­der­ful lo­cal food pro­duc­ers that call Char­ente-mar­itime home, you will find plenty to in­spire and as­sist you on your jour­ney.

From 500 429, €

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