French property dreams
A tour around a beautiful former convent in Bouches-du-rhône has Sophie Gardner-roberts contemplating life in the south
A former convent in Bouches-du-rhône
The lines between history and legends are often blurred when it comes to the collective memory of an ancient place. The Provençal town of Tarascon, on the banks of the Rhône, has one such interesting past. Its story mingles tales of a monster creeping up from the surrounding marshes with accounts of pilgrims flocking to the town to worship Marthe, the patron of Tarascon who allegedly killed the beast.
Monsters aside, Tarascon was certainly a major religious and pilgrimage site which housed up to 15 convents until the French Revolution and prospered as a result. Today, the town still bears traces of its wealthy past, from the remarkably preserved 15th-century château to the many convents which have been beautifully restored and converted.
Imagine owning a slice of that history and walking in the steps of worshippers who sought quiet and meditation behind the protective walls of a convent. Dating back to the 17th century, the property shown here is one of these many ancient convents dotting the centre of Tarascon and its exceptional renovation has turned it into a beautiful, spacious home.
Old and new The careful conversion has preserved the heritage of the building but created a modern and comfortable interior. As a result, the house has character in spades with features such as beamed ceilings, exposed stone walls, interior stone archways, arched doors and windows, passageways, stone fireplaces and a private, interior courtyard. You can even spot traces of old staircases in the stonework in the walls.
The 600m2 of habitable space are built on two levels. On the ground floor, you’ll find three large reception rooms and a fully fitted, modern kitchen. All seven bedrooms and their ensuite bathrooms are located on the first floor; they all have unique features and layouts blending contemporary design and materials with period character.
In terms of outdoor space, there is a 100m2 courtyard garden – easy to maintain! – with a beautiful twisting olive tree in its centre, plus a 50m2 terrace which is bathed in sunlight but also has a lovely shaded area to shelter from the Bouches-du-rhône heat. Both these outdoor spaces are lovely and private so you can hide away and simply enjoy some peace and quiet, much like the former inhabitants of the convent I expect.
Endless possibilities Style and jaw-dropping beauty aside (can you tell I’ve fallen in love with this home yet?), the property is ideally located in the centre of
Imagine owning a slice of history and walking in the steps of worshippers who sought quiet and meditation behind the protective walls of a convent
Tarascon and, with all those ensuite bedrooms, would make a perfect luxury boutique bed and breakfast, providing you keep two rooms for private use and only rent out five of them (offering more than five paying rooms makes an establishment a hotel).
Shops, restaurants and Tarascon’s many historic sites are on the doorstep, while a short drive in either direction will bring you to tourism hotspots such as Arles and Avignon.
Access is also easy as Avignon’s airport is just 29km away and the Eurostar goes all the way down to Avignon train station. The larger airport of Marseille is just over an hour’s drive away.
I don’t know about you, but the thought of owning and enjoying this exceptional property has chased all thoughts of murky monsters and battling saints out of my mind.
The converted convent is on the market for €775,000 laresidence.co.uk