10 March 2016 by Jessica Boston
Meet the Owners, Luxury Villa, Soustons, Landes, Aquitaine
Jane Storm and her partner David Allen are the owners of a gorgeous, spacious chalet style villa in Aquitaine. They first started visiting the area volunteering at a charity based in Lourdes run by some friends and knew straight away that this was a place that would become special for them.
Building their dream home from scratch
“The combination of mountain views and the nearby beaches was so perfect but finding a property wasn’t easy. We looked at buying a cabin in the mountains but they were very small and then our friends suggested we get some land and run a small campsite and the idea just grew and developed until we decided to buy a piece of land and have a house built from scratch.”
The process of getting the house built was easier than it might seem because Jane was able to pass the entire project over to contractors and simply selected the layout she and David wanted from a menu of options.
“We decided to go for it and build a large four bed house rather than a smaller rental – one day we want to live here full time so it really is a proper home not somewhere built with only business in mind” says Jane “the plot of land we chose was a compromise as it’s not got the mountain views I wanted but the bonus of an easy build on a flat piece of land was worth it.”
The land was bought in 2000 and by 2002 the dream home was built and ready to let.
All the comforts of a real home
Because it is a home not just a business the villa is extremely well furnished and decorated and has all the extras you might not usually find in a rental property. Jane is a keen cook and the kitchen is testament to this so foodie guests will be able to give their talents free reign and take full advantage of the fabulous local food markets. A large outdoor BBQ area is also perfect for summer evenings enjoying the food and wine of the region.
The layout of the property is ideal for two families sharing as there are two bedrooms on the ground floor and two upstairs so everyone can enjoy some privacy while also having the benefit of large communal areas inside and out for dining and socialising together.
“It’s a very happy house” says Jane “We let it over the summer and stay here during the off season ourselves, we’ve had so many happy times here. We sometimes celebrate Christmas here gathering family from our far flung homes to be together. I’ve spent a lot of time living and working abroad; Spain, France, Jamaica, Honduras and now in the UK and my son is living in Sweden with his girlfriend so it’s great to have a base to meet up at. It’s actually a lovely place to be at any time of year and the woodburner and chiminea keep us cosy in any weather.”
A personal touch
Jane has decorated the house with souvenirs from her travels so it’s full of memories, a hub that ties her travelling life together. “It’s simple things like having breakfast on the balcony or going for walks exploring the beautiful countryside that make it special to us – the house and the area really do feel like home to us”.
While Jane and David are away a local couple manage the holiday home doing cleaning and being on hand to offer any help that’s needed “They have worked for us for about 8 years now and really do a great job of keeping the house and pool in top condition – we expect it for ourselves and for our guests.”
Beaches, bikes & a host of other activities
The local area is full of things to see and do, there are bikes in the garage to borrow so you can get out on the excellent network of cycle paths, the beach is just 15 minutes by bike or 5 minutes in the car with miles of walks to enjoy the scenery and sea air.
“Even after all the time we’ve spent here we can still get lost exploring” says Jane “One of our favourite walks is at Courant d’Huchet, you can park by the bridge and take a 3 or 4 mile walk through the woods along the river until it reaches the sea. There are huge sand dunes and it’s a great place for a picnic.”
Hossegor – a world-class surf spot
The beaches on this bit of the French coastline are most famous for the surf with nearby Hossegor hosting the world championships in October.
“It’s a fashionable resort for the surf set” says Jane “there are all the surf branded boutiques and a buzzing social scene during the season”. There’s also plenty of golf courses, tennis, swimming and kayak and canoe routes nearby “There are kayak companies that drop you off upstream and collect you at the bottom to give you a lift back to your car so you get all the fun and none of the hard work – great!”
A foodie’s delight
As in most of France the food here is a high point with local seafood and the cheese and wine from the Pyrenees being particular treats. The markets and local shops offer plenty of local, seasonal food and there is a bakery selling artisan bread and patisserie in Messanges village just 10 minutes walk from the villa – perfect for collecting those delicious croissants each morning.
This special holiday property really is the perfect place to stay, a home from home in a stunning setting that has visitors coming back year after year.
“We can’t wait to make it our permanent home” says Jane “David says the clock is ticking and I know what he means – I love my job but the chance to retire this year and follow our dreams is a fantastic opportunity. We’re planning to get a camper van and spend our summers travelling while we continue to rent out our house for the season. It’s going to be so much fun – we can’t wait! Eventually we’ll settle here and find our place in the local community but we still have plenty of exploring to do first!”
Jane’s top tips for things to do when staying in Landes:
- Eat oysters at Hossegor lake Make the 10 mile trip to Hossegor Lake and enjoy the gorgeous scenery with a walk before sitting down at the oyster shack to try the delicious local oysters with a glass of crisp white wine – all for just €8 a head!
- See a modern bullfight We’re in the Basque country here and the tradition of bullfighting goes back generations. Today it’s a display of strength rather than a fight and the bull is not harmed. Book tickets to see the impressive show at the bullring at Dax.
- Hot springs and daring bridges in the Pyrenees Take a journey into the Pyrenees and discover the thermal springs and spa baths or enjoy the views with a mountain walk along the Larrau gorge with its amazing suspended footbridge – not for the fainthearted!