At the age of 20, I was already saving my money with the aim of one day realizing a gite de charm (vacation home). For years, I had been fascinated by architecture, renovation, and interior design. After my first experience managing a small family gite near Uzes, I decided during Christmas 2006 to proceed to the next stage with a friend.
Soon, we began searching for a large property where I could develop several high-end gites. Over the next 3 years, we carefully inspected multiple properties based on our criteria that the properties for sale must be located in the eastern half of Languedoc-Roussillon. We visited more than 60 properties! Above all, we wanted an absolutely quiet place, panoramic view, ancient stone buildings with a lot of charm, and a central location with regard to the most famous landscapes and places of interest of the South of France including the Camargue, the National park of Cevennes, historic cities of Provence, and Languedoc.
We wanted to make between 5 and 8 large gites for 2 persons each so we looked for a property which had the potential. At least 500 livable sq. meters were needed, and especially every accommodation had to provide a private protected terrace or a garden. The state of the buildings had no importance because we were ready to make a complete renovation. We sometimes visited ruins where a lot of imagination was needed to conceive our project. There were also some other criteria which were important for us, like the distance from the shops, a good bakery nearby, internet ADSL, and of course, we had to feel a real coup de coeur for the place. Then, it happened.
Summer of 2010: we found a converted 9th century religious priory , surrounded by the vineyards of an 18th century wine estate. The Domaine de Monteils looks like a small hamlet with several separated houses, nested in the middle of a Mediterranean park of 5 hectares. During our first visit, we fell in love at once with the place and I believe that we would have bought this little paradise even if it had been necessary to modify our project. Then we realized that all our criteria of search were gathered – incredible!
The fateful day finally arrived and we were given the keys in September of last year. We were faced with renewing 1 800 sq. meters of buildings. The thought was very frightening, especially when you don’t work in the building industry. We decided to renew only a part of it and do the rest later. Nevertheless, the challenge was very impressive and almost impracticable because we had to build the 4 first gites in only 6 months in order to welcome our first visitors in July, 2011. Even though all the members of our families helped us as well as some people from the village, I still wonder how we did it! Not only we were very warmed welcomed in this village of Carnas, but many inhabitants liked our project and there were volunteers to lend a helping hand. First, we worked with an architect to make the plans. We wanted our gites to be very atypical in a design still. The renovation work began in February. It was necessary to manage a very strict schedule for the craftsmen who came to make the work that we could not do ourselves: Masonry, roofing, plumbing and electricity. Moreover, these craftsmen also kindly proposed to help us (free of charge) with the final touches after the initial work was finished.
Fortunately, we already knew how to make a stone floor, wooden parquet, paint, and to make any sort of do-it-yourself projects, which helped us a lot. The wooden terraces appeared toward the end of the project, just in time to settle spas. The swimming pool was fitted with a large brand new terrace. The park, which had become the real jungle, was transformed into an attractive plant labyrinth. The renovation work ended only 3 weeks before the opening, and the rooms were still empty. We worked night and day to finish everything in time: settle kitchens, install furniture, buy all the dishes, the linen. Above all, we wanted to do what pleased us most: hang on our paintings and place our antique or design objects of decoration in accordance with every gite. Saturday, July 02, 2011 at 8 am the morning we were still in a hurry for the last purchases and making sure there were flowers on tables and a bottle of champagne in every refrigerator. Phew everything was finally ready!
A surreal, quiet atmosphere reigned in the last minutes while we waited for our first visitors. We felt like we were not able to be as much of perfectionists as we would have wanted, but we were pleased to welcome visitors from all horizons as if they were invited members of our family. After all, they were as delighted as we were to spend a holiday in the sunny south of France!
The gallery below has additional pictures of this gorgeous property in South France. Click on pictures to enlarge.
You can also visit the website for gite Languedoc provence.