MANY people move to France to rest up and chill out, not to become a property developer and begin overseeing the creation of five villas with views of the Pyrenees.
But that is the challenge that Jeremy Barwick is facing after buying a parcel of land near his home just south of Carcassonne in the Languedoc Rousillon region.
When the land came up for sale Jeremy and his partner Stephen Brann decided to create five designer properties drawing on the expertise of local professionals.
“I knew that to make things easier it would be necessary to use French architects, accountants and notaires to ensure things went smoothly,” Jeremy said.
“We moved over here in 2003 and ensured that we got to know the local mayor and took part in community events as that is very important.
“So when the land came up for sale I thought about what could be done with it and chatted with the mayor who helped us with the many questions we had.”
Jeremy’s plans will see the villas being built, called Domaine de Garenaud, using local stone, wood and glass with a contemporary design very different from the normal new-build style.
With open plan living areas, five bedrooms and a self-contained annex the setting is brought to the fore as large picture windows look out across the hills to the distant Pyrenees.
“When I looked at the parcel of land is was just wasteland and vines that had grown wild, but I thought maybe it could be given a new lease of life,” said Jeremy.
“Although my family has a background in the construction industry I worked in sales and marketing in IT.
“But I knew that it would be a slow process to get through the paperwork without professional help, and worked with the architects to create something a little different, especially considering the location.”
The villas are to be built off-plan and although Jeremy believes people will buy them as holiday homes, some may look to use them as retirement homes.
Each property has a garage and pool, as well as high-speed internet access, allowing the annex to be used as a home office, studio or even to be let for breaks.
“It has been quite stressful moving things forward and it is important to move at the pace of life in this corner of France, but I’m already thinking of other projects in the future,” Jeremy said.
“Although it is a long process, and you have a thousand and one hurdles to jump over, ensuring the villas are built with the services of local people will ensure they are at home here in the countryside.”