A 17th-Century Estate in Normandy
$1.58 MILLION (1.39 MILLION EUROS)
This 10-acre property is in Cléville, a small area in the region of Normandy, near the English Channel, on the northwest coast of France. Surrounded by farmland and anchored by a four-story manor house built in the 17th century, it has several additional buildings, including a three-bedroom caretaker’s lodge, two four-bedroom guesthouses, renovated stables and a chapel, as well as a small airplane hangar and a garage.
The 8,611-square-foot stone house, which has 10 bedrooms and six bathrooms, was fully renovated in 2000. An entrance hall leads to four ground-floor reception rooms: a living room, sitting room, billiard room and dining room. The floors are stone, and the high ceilings have wide wooden beams punctuated by frescoes featuring leaves, birds and flowers painted by a local artist.
Three of the reception rooms have large wood-burning fireplaces, as well as floor-to-ceiling windows and glass doors that open to the landscaped grounds. The eat-in kitchen, in a two-story addition to the house, has a fireplace, an oversized La Cornue range and a chicken roaster, as well as double doors leading out to a patio.
The eat-in kitchen has a fireplace, an oversized La Cornue range and a chicken roaster.CreditJoann Pai for The New York Times
“It’s like a large family kitchen, as big as the dining room, where you can also have dinner or lunch,” said Charlotte Alaurent, manager of the Deauville office of Barnes International Realty, which has the listing.
The floors in the rest of the house are oak. On the second level, the master suite is two bedrooms (one currently used as an office) connected by a bathroom. The second floor has two more bedrooms and a laundry room. The remaining bedrooms are on the third and fourth floors. Furniture is not included in the asking price, but is negotiable, Ms. Alaurent said.
A south-facing patio abuts a massive lawn, with a roughly 60-foot swimming pool on one side. The sprawling grounds, which include three ponds and an aviary, have appeared in nature-centric films like “Microcosmos” and “Winged Migration,” Ms. Alaurent said.
The house, which dates to the 17th century, was restored in 2000. The six bedrooms are spread among the top three floors.CreditJoann Pai for The New York Times
“The owner used to have people working for him on the property making movies, and he used to do the cooking for 20 people,” she said.
Of the property’s outbuildings, one of the two four-bedroom guesthouses has been fully renovated, as have the stables. The other guesthouse and the chapel need work.
Normandy has many attractions, among them a beautiful coastline (including the beaches where Allied forces landed on June 6, 1944) and medieval fortified towns, castles and cathedrals, said Chris Slade, who owns A House in Brittany Limited, a real estate consulting firm, with his wife, Micki Slade.
Cléville, an area with a few hundred residents, is about 15 miles south of the French coastline, where a cross-channel ferry runs to Portsmouth, England. The city of Caen is about 15 miles west, and the seaside resort area of Deauville, known for its boutique hotels, shops, marinas and large casino, is about 20 miles northeast. Considered France’s premier horse-breeding region, Deauville is also home to the well-known Hippodrome Deauville-La Touques racecourse. The closest international airport, Caen-Carpiquet Airport, is about a 35-minute drive, Ms. Alaurent said. Trains to Paris, about 120 miles southeast, take about two and a half hours from Deauville or Caen.
Unlike the country’s large urban centers, the rural area of northern France has seen uneven market growth in recent years, with prices sagging and sales increasing.
The property has several outbuildings, including a caretaker’s lodge and two four-bedroom guesthouses.CreditJoann Pai for The New York Times
Over the past year, prices fell by 3 percent in Upper Normandy and 7 percent in Lower Normandy, said Trevor Leggett, chairman of the brokerage Leggett Immobilier. (In 2016, the administrative regions of Upper Normandy and Lower Normandy were merged into a single entity after 60 years of separation, but agents still refer to Upper and Lower Normandy when analyzing market information.)
“This does mean that prices are attractive to overseas buyers,” he said, with Lower Normandy being “more popular than neighboring Upper Normandy with these international buyers.”
Suzanne Jenkins-Pearce, owner of the brokerage Suzanne in France, said that Normandy’s appeal is growing for domestic and overseas buyers because of low mortgage interest rates, affordable prices and a large inventory of property. “Over the past year, the level of activity in the Normandy property market has continued to increase,” she said. “In 2017, the level of completed sales increased by 15 percent on the previous year.”
For home buyers, the best value is in what was Lower Normandy, at the base of the Cherbourg Peninsula, an area that includes Vire, Villedieu-les-Poêles, Mortain, Granville, Saint-Lô and Saint-Hilaire-du-Harcouët, Mr. Slade said.
Homes in what was Lower Normandy currently sell for about 1,560 euros a square meter (or $165 a square foot), while in Upper Normandy they go for about 1,630 euros a square meter ($172 a square foot), Mr. Leggett said.
Deauville, a seaside resort area known for its shops, boutique hotels, marinas and large casino, is about 20 miles away.CreditJoann Pai for The New York Times
A two-bedroom cottage on half an acre in Normandy sells for about 110,000 euros ($125,000), Mr. Slade said. Larger and more luxurious homes that typically appeal to foreign buyers can run about 1.2 million euros ($1.37 million), Ms. Alaurent said.
Who Buys in Normandy
Most foreign buyers in Normandy come from the United Kingdom, Belgium and Germany, Mr. Leggett said. Ms. Alaurent said she has also seen buyers from neighboring European countries, like the Netherlands and Switzerland, with a sprinkling of Americans and Russians.
Normandy attracts many Parisians seeking second homes as well, thanks to its affordable prices and rail links to the capital city, Mr. Slade said.
Foreigners can buy property in France without restrictions. Typically, notaries working on behalf of the government, for both the seller and buyer, handle sales transactions.
“The French property-buying process protects the buyer very well indeed,” Mr. Leggett said. “You’ll see all of the house diagnostics, and you’ll have a 10-day cooling-off period after you’ve exchanged contracts. Most clients do not retain a separate lawyer.”
Buyers of resale homes should anticipate paying 7 to 10 percent of the sale price in taxes and fees, Mr. Slade said. That includes the notary fee and stamp duty registration taxes, along with any real estate agency fees.
The process of obtaining a mortgage from a French bank can be an arduous one for foreign buyers, brokers said. However, mortgages are available on up to 70 percent of a home’s sale price, including agency fees but not notary fees, Ms. Jenkins-Pearce said.
Languages and Currency
French; euro (1 euro = $1.14)
Taxes and Fees
The annual taxes on this property are about 4,000 euros, or around $4,600, Ms. Alaurent said.
Charlotte Alaurent, Barnes International, 011-33-2-31-81-28-29; barnes-international.com