Clos Mirabel

Pau-Jurançon, in the Heart of South-West France

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A little background

man and woman on a tandem bicycle in the grounds of Clos Mirabel

Much trav­elled Ann and An­dré fell in love with Clos Mira­bel and its breath­tak­ing views over 13 years ago. They lived in the 18th Cen­tu­ry Manor House for 2 years be­fore un­der­tak­ing a ma­jor ren­o­va­tion in 2005 re­tain­ing as many of the his­tor­i­cal fea­tures as pos­si­ble. The Clos Mira­bel Es­tate now pro­vides a hill­top haven in Bed and Break­fast and Self Ca­ter­ing Ac­com­mo­da­tion where vis­i­tors feel re­freshed and in­spired. A small sem­i­nar space has al­so been cre­at­ed which can be used along with the Manor House for small resi­den­tial or non-resi­den­tial groups out­side of the main tourist sea­son.

French-Ca­na­dian An­dré is a re­tired di­plo­mat; Ann worked in the trav­el in­dus­try and public af­fairs. They both have a keen in­ter­est in health and well­be­ing which is re­flect­ed in their choice of Clos Mira­bel and its out­s­tand­ing lo­ca­tion look­ing over vine­yards, out to­wards the en­tire chain of the Pyrénées At­lan­tiques. Ann has a keen in­ter­est in psy­chol­o­gy; daugh­ter Emi­ly at­tend­ed French school and fin­ished her se­condary ed­u­ca­tion at the in­ter­na­tio­n­al school in Pau.

The orig­i­nal house at Clos Mira­bel was a very sim­ple Béar­naise farm­house built be­tween 1732 and 1738. A small barn was add­ed a lit­tle lat­er. In 1825, the prop­er­ty was purchased by Jean Mira­bel, hence the name, Clos Mira­bel. At the same time he bought sev­er­al acres of land that in­clud­ed the vine­yard.

In 1921, the prop­er­ty was owned by an En­glish­man, Lord Hugh Faulkn­er, a colonel in the In­dian Army. He was great­ly at­tached to Clos Mira­bel and with re­gret re­turned to the UK at the be­gin­n­ing of WWII. He died dur­ing the war and with no de­s­cen­dants, left his prop­er­ty to a friend and neigh­bour.

Elec­tric­i­ty was in­s­talled in 1933 and run­n­ing wa­ter in the 1940’s. In 1947, the own­er made ma­jor trans­for­ma­tions to the house in­cor­po­rat­ing the in­ter­nal court­yard of the farm­house to in­crease the floor space, rais­ing the roof to cre­ate a se­cond floor. How­ev­er, the elec­tric­i­ty and plumb­ing were left un­touched.

In the mid 50’s, M. Dubois, a lum­ber merchant from Paris who had pro­vid­ed woo­d­en chas­sis to Re­nault be­fore the war, bought the prop­er­ty. He then trans­formed the small 18th Cen­tu­ry barn in­to the very im­pres­sive Win­ery we see to­day.

The prop­er­ty had not known any ma­jor changes since the im­me­di­ate post war pe­ri­od. The house was closed for most of the year since the own­er lived in Tahi­ti. He had re­fused sev­er­al of­fers on the prop­er­ty, par­tic­u­lar­ly from de­vel­op­ers, since he want­ed it to re­main the very spe­cial place it is.

Un­touched since the end of the 1940’s, the ren­o­va­tion un­der­tak­en by Ann and An­dré re­tained as many his­tor­i­cal fea­tures as pos­si­ble in­clud­ing fire­places, woo­d­en floors and most of the win­dows. The whole house was re­plas­tered in the tra­di­tio­n­al way keep­ing all the beau­ti­ful curved ceil­ings. Bath­room fitt­ings from the 1940’s were re­tained wher­ev­er pos­si­ble. The re­sult is a con­tem­po­rary house with do­mot­ic elec­tric­i­ty, so­lar pan­els for hot wa­ter, un­der floor heat­ing as well as en­vi­ron­men­tal heat and air con­di­tion­ing pumps. The pool is part­ly heat­ed by so­lar pan­els and is open from mid-May to the end of Oc­to­ber. The waste wa­ter at Clos Mira­bel is treat­ed by a na­t­u­ral sys­tem us­ing reed beds, an en­vi­ron­men­tal en­gi­neer­ing pro­ject us­ing tech­nol­o­gy de­vel­oped in Ger­many.

All the plans and ren­o­va­tion work were car­ried out un­der the gui­dance and great ex­per­tise of Gio­van­na Ansel­mi, their Italian ar­chi­tect, who worked as a con­sul­tant.