A spooky looking house with a violent past could turn out to be a good purchase once all the spirits of the past have been vanquished.
If you are not too perturbed by the thought of disturbing events of yesteryear occurring in your home, a townhouse in the south of France converted from a former tenth century priory next-door to the famous Abbaye La Celle where Pope Marcel II of Avignon once lived might appeal.
The splendidly converted old Provencal priory, that has been lovingly cared for and restored by the current owners who have lived there for two decades, has held onto a number of original features, including ancient oak beams, archways and exposed decorative stonework.
One of the most notable, and possibly alarming, features is the arrow slot meutriere – literally translated as murderer, which suggests many a possible intruder was kept at bay by a shower of arrows shot from vantage points within in the priory.
‘The archer would have stood inside with a good 90-degree view without being hit himself,’ explains Philip Mason from Winkworth France, the agent selling the antique property with a macabre history. ‘The church was fortified at the time, because this was an important trading area in Roman times, and the hills around this part of the Cote d’Azur, the Maures, are known as “the hills of the Moors,” indicating how rich the heritage is in these parts.’
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The priory is now a 21st-century friendly four-bedroom house with a large office that could serve as another bedroom, if preferred. A 600-square foot area on the ground floor, once an antique shop, is ready to be turned into a separate one-bedroom apartment.
For a place that has survived troubled times, today, residents and visitors to La Celle enjoy excellent and peaceful repasts at a Michelin-starred restaurant around the corner from the former priory.
In addition, you are equidistant from three airports, Toulon-l’Yeres, Nice and Marseilles, adds Mr Mason, or you can travel on the TGV via Lilles to nearby Aix-en-Provence.
And if you are worried about unearthly disruptions, traffic noise is more likely to replace ghosts and ghouls these days. ‘If it is peace and quiet you want, sometimes it is better to be slap bang in the centre of a town, rather than in the countryside, making La Celle the perfect spot,’ says Mr Mason.
La Celle is for sale at £1.2 million through Winkworth France, 00 33 49 810 2510 or 020 8576 5582, www.coastandcountryfrance.com