It’s difficult to buy a home in the very sophisticated wine villages of Burgundy. This French region’s fertile land is worth much more to the locals cloaked in neat rows of vineyards than it is developed into modern housing so there is a real shortage of supply. But there is a solution and that’s to breathe a new lease of life into the derelict and the disused - enter specialists Arena Park France.
Headed up by experienced husband and wife team Su and David Bishop, Arena Park France has been at the forefront of high-quality conversions since 2003 and they know the area and its foibles better than most.
Su comments, “Like its celebrated wine production, Burgundy’s property market focuses on quality rather than quantity and there really is very little available. Arena Park France is therefore not a volume business, but instead selects well-located ancient stone buildings and transforms them into light modern spaces in direct liaison with the client so they get exactly what they want. French styling tends to be a world-apart from that expected of an international clientele so Arena Park France homes stand-out in terms of both quality and design. Our buyers get the best of both worlds – contemporary living in petite characterful villages.”
To the east of central France, spilling into neighbouring Switzerland, Burgundy is the epitome of romantic peaceful countryside. Running through the heart of the region is the Côte d’Or, a narrow escarpment snaking from Dijon to Beaune and home to tight clusters of irresistible stone villages. This is Arena Park France territory and Burgundy at its most pure. Vineyards roll as far as the eye can see, guarded and respected by the wealthy landowners to be passed from generation to generation. A sense of quality percolates through every aspect of Côte d’Or life and foreign property buyers find its finesse and authenticity highly alluring - wishing to assimilate rather than alienate.
Su continues, “Business is good for us at Arena Park France and if anything we have expanded our team as Europe’s economic predicament deepens. We have little or no competition in the area for our level of finished product and our clients are impressed with our ability to handle the build process from inception through to conclusion. Working with local contractors we can manage timescales and qualities with the added reassurance of French ‘decennale’ insurance. Our completed projects serve as showhomes and people are happy to put their faith in us to create their home in idyllic world-away Burgundy.”
Whilst it would be impossible to tire of the Cotswolds-esque villages picnicking amongst the vineyards, step outside of the Côte D’Or and you will find the Burgundy of the travel books. Defined by its imposing architecture - great Abbeys and majestic chateaux encircled by reflective moats, Romanesque churches and nostalgic arched bridges – Burgundy life revolves around outdoor living. The region has over 1,200km of navigable waterways (including France’s oldest working canal) lined with poplars and lilacs alongside fields of poppies and sunflowers. Landlubbers can cycle or stroll along the picturesque canal paths meanwhile golfers can swing their clubs in the region’s 20 or so golf courses, some in the grounds of grand chateaux.
Yet of course it is Burgundy’s renowned elixir that has shaped its landscape and economy more than any. There is evidence of vine-growing in the area from Roman times but certainly ever since the 17th century, when Louis XIV’s doctor prescribed wine to alleviate the symptoms of royal indigestion, the region’s south facing slopes have been shrouded in healthy vines and its grand residences inhabited by well-to-do vignerons. From Chablis to Côte de Beaune, every Bourgogne menu has dishes swirling in the nectar from poussins to escargots and of course the signature boeuf bourguignon.
The region is easily accessible from northern Europe. Nearest big city Lyon is home to France’s fourth busiest airport served by BMI, BA and EasyJet to the UK whilst also being on the high-speed TGV route - as is Dijon a 20-minute drive from Beaune. Paris is a two and a half hours by road from central Burgundy.On the market in Burgundy:Apartments in Pommard
Attractive 18th century vigneron house converted into just three luxury two bedroom apartments. At the heart of renowned Burgundy wine village, Pommard, the building retains a wealth of original features from the oak frame to exposed stone walls. Each apartment is spacious, flooded with natural light and has modern bathrooms, an individual wine cellar and a private courtyard or roof terrace. Clients can participate in selecting final finishings including flooring, tiling and the kitchen.
Prices from 290,000 euros for a two bedroom duplex apartment (excl. kitchen)Cottage in Cissey
Original stone cottage dating back to 1820 sitting on the outskirts of the picturesque Burgundy farming village of Cissey. Being 5km south of Beaune, this property represents excellent value for money. Uninhabited for 50 years, this complete refurbishment will create a two bedroom home with an abundance of original character. With tranquil views over the surrounding fields the property has an open-plan living/dining area with authentic fireplace opening onto a south-facing walled garden complete with well. Both bedrooms have lofty oak-beamed ceilings and are en-suite, the master with a sunny roof terrace, whilst off-street parking for two cars completes the property.
Price 360,000 euros (excl. kitchen)News submitted by Sarah Drane, Arena Park France