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Beautiful barn conversion with stunning valley views

Posted on 23rd April 2019


One dark and stormy night, about 35 years ago, newlyweds from Yorkshire, Bill and Danielle Williams, were driving through southern France on the way to their honeymoon destination. They had taken the scenic route but were regretting it as the road was winding and the rain torrential. Eventually, they pulled over in a small hamlet and took shelter for the night in a B&B. The next morning, as they stood outside and watched the low mist burn off into a cloudless blue sky, they gaped in astonishment. They were standing on a steep terraced hillside with views across a valley to the forested hills beyond.

“I don’t know where we are,” murmured Bill. “But I just want to stay here.”

The couple later found out they had been in the hamlet of Le Fel above the River Lot. They ended up buying a home nearby on the River Truyère, a tributary of the Lot, and lived there for the next 30 years.

Leeds-based hairdresser Frances Staples-Hughes relates this story to explain how she too came to own a home in the Truyère valley. Inspired by Bill, a family friend, she and her husband Raymond bought a dilapidated barn overlooking the Truyère near St­Hippolyte 21 years ago.

“It’s a beautiful spot,” says Frances. “The air is fresh and clean and round every corner there’s a view, but it’s not overly touristy. Buying here was a no­brainer.”

The couple gradually renovated the barn and now have a beautiful home with an open-­plan cathedral ­like living space, three bedrooms, three bathrooms and fabulous views of the river. Downstream is Entraygues-sur-Truyère, a lively village with a market three times a week as well as a small supermarket, bank, post office, outdoor pool and other amenities.

“You can hire kayaks there and it’s a beautiful trip down the river, past places where you can get a coffee and spots where the kids can jump off the rocks,” says Frances. “The whole area is an outdoor paradise. We have been coming for 20 years but every time we sit out on our balcony and look out across the river, we notice another footpath we haven’t tried yet.”

Frances and Raymond are now moving on to pastures new and have put their beloved holiday home on the market for €339,200. Anne Magnes, the local Leggett agent was astonished when she first saw the property. “Extraordinary!” is how she describes it in her listing. “You will be blown away by this house, suspended between sky and river, and renovated with taste and high quality materials,” she promises. “It’s an unforgettable place to live!”

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