French Properties

Left of Centre? We introduce the fascinating ‘Petit Kremlin’

Another property with a fascinating artistic history can be found three hours’ drive south in the Auvergne. When the current owners were renovating the house in Louroux-Bourbonnais they uncovered hundreds of drawings by the former owner.

The intriguing history of this unique property begins in 1937 when Communist Monsieur Bichard acquired a quarry in the village and built a home at the foot of it. Along a low stone wall at the front of the house, he carved a sickle, hammer, and five-cornered star – the emblem of Marxism-Leninism.

He and his wife had a son, Roger, who was born with a malfunction of the palate so had a speech impediment. He helped his father with the quarry and could often be seen riding a tractor full of pebbles. It wasn’t until after Parisian artists Francois and Elisabeth Boissiere bought the property in 2005 that they found 3,000 drawings detailing rural life in the village.

Little had anyone known that Roger had been such a talented if untrained artist with acute observation. Roger Bichard’s drawings – classified as Art Naïf – are preserved at the Musée et Jardins Cécile Sabourdy in Vicq-sur-Breuilh, Haute-Vienne, but his former three-bedroom house is now for sale.

It’s become rather a well-known property in the area and is popular with tourists, having been well-preserved by the Boissiere family. “Viewings themselves as custodians of this unique property, they thought that it was a great privilege to own it so renovated it sympathetically,” says Alison Brettell, Leggett’s local agent. “They improved it, and added double glazing, but there’s good potential to connect it to the barn that comes with the property and make use of the quarry in a tourist business. Many visitors come and look at the garden and take photos so refreshments could be offered, and the whole history accentuated.

The wider area is also popular for the Forest of Tronçais, a vast oak wood that is supplying the restoration of Notre-Dame, but also has lakes and beaches, offering all sorts of hiking, biking, and kayaking. It’s 3.5 hrs from Paris and an easy drive from the UK.

The property is for sale at €246,100 through Alison.