- 2 bedrooms
- 1 bathrooms
- 5 habitable rooms
- 130 square meters of living space
Niort is a medium-sized town, with good communication routes connecting it to the rest of the country (fast train line, motorways), where it is pleasant to live. Its numerous historic monuments and, above all, its impressive keep bear witness to its exciting history. Insurance companies and high-tech industries have replaced the hide and leather industries, thus guaranteeing the town’s prosperity. The time of the river port is over and the town centre is simply enhanced by the river Sèvre and its arms, prior to their crossing the rightly famous Poitevin marshlands, the landscape scenery of which begins on the outskirts of town.
La-Rochelle and the Atlantic Ocean are less than an hour’s drive away and but 45 minutes by train. It takes less than two hours to reach Paris by TGV train. The pleasant climate is like that of the ocean but without the excesses of the coast.
On the left bank of the river Sèvre-Niortaise, two hills slope down towards the shopping district in the town centre. The “Maison de la Vierge” (House of the Virgin) is to be found on one of these, Saint-André, on the corner of two very old streets. The ravages of six centuries of history have done nothing to diminish the powerful attraction exerted by this edifice. Included on the French Supplementary Historic Monument List in 2001, it spans three levels, to which can be added a cellar and converted attic space. The top two floors feature protruding half-timbering with corbelling. Keeping a watchful eye on the two roads, a statue of the Virgin has always been set in an alcove, topped with a gothic canopy: the current statue was sculpted in the 19th century by Henri-Jacquelin, native of Niort. The interior surface area spans approx. 130 m².
The Dauphin’s ex-inn
This is how it was originally known as the son of Charles VII, the future Louis XI, stayed in the district during the “Praguerie” in 1440. The dauphin was not afraid of being part of this revolt of the French nobility, against a king who had just regained all of his power after the One Hundred Years’ War.
In the 17th and 18th centuries, the “Maison de la Vierge” was a coaching inn where the travellers’ horses were changed. In the 19th century, it became a curiosity shop prior to successively housing a café-grocery and the meetings of the French Young Economic Chamber in the 20th century. It was purchased from the town council by two artists ten years ago.
The statue of the Virgin is on the corner of the two streets. The main facade on the second and attic floors features protruding half-timbering, with quarry stone masonry filler and wooden corbelling. Also protruding is the load-bearing party wall supported on semi-circular corbelling. The widely overhanging roof is supported on wooden corbels. The facade on the other street is a gable.
It is true that the oldest house in Niort is in need of major works, equal to the appeal that it exudes. But, without mentioning the spell under which it is difficult not to fall, its French Supplementary Historic Monument listing is a guarantee of the State’s decisive participation. Surveys have been carried out by the most competent of agencies which will make the task of tasteful purchasers easier as they prepare to write a new chapter in the fully documented history of this priceless edifice.
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