The Most Popular Village In France


Cordes-sur-Ciel has been voted the ‘most popular French Village’, on a programme of the same name “Le Village Préféré Des Français”,broadcasted on the national TV channelFrance 2 on Tuesday 1st July. Voting is carried out by French national viewers, who choose their favourite village in France from a shortlist of 22.


Cordes-sur-Ciel, located in the Tarn department of the Midi-Pyrénées, is an architecturally stunning village perched on the top of a hill. Originally named “corte” meaning “rocky heights,” the village was later renamed “Cordes-sur-Ciel”, to indicate its height above the clouds over low-lying areas of the valley – as in a fairytale book!


Interestingly, the Midi-Pyrenees is the only department in France that had two villages listed in the competition, indicating the true magnificence of this region.  The fact that the listing is decided by the discerning French themselves serves as a goodguide for international tourists wishing to visit the ‘real France’anddiscover its natural beauty for themselves.


Two Brits who have done just thatare Jeanne and David Boden who moved to the region 17 years ago.  The Boden’s are now involved in helping to develop La Durantie, so that others like them can own-in and enjoy this beautiful region of France.  Just 22 km from Cordes Sur Ciel, the Chateau de la Durantie is currently being renovated into a country club & spa and vernacular style homes are being developed in the chateau grounds.



The Tarn is a quintessentially French rural region which is not as well-known as neighbouring Provence, but is much loved by a number of British expats who have stumbled upon it and then never left!  The elegant belle époque chateau at the heart of La Durantie is one of the region’s prized architectural possessions; it lies just 55 minutes north of Toulouse and close to the village of Castelnau-de-Montmiral in a landscape of rolling hills, vineyards and ancient hill-top towns.


Overlooking undulating vineyards and miles of dense oak forest, La Durantie will soon become home to 57 vernacular designed single and two storey one to five bedroom detached homes together with two styles of apartments with either 2 or 3 bedrooms.  In-keeping with the local villages, homes will be arranged in small clusters of approximately six homes with private spaces and landscaped internal courtyards.  Some homes will be stone faced and others will have the traditional render in soft hues bordered by local detailing in brick and stone whilst terracotta roof tiles will enhance the mellow and traditional character of the scheme.  Most homes will also have an ‘integrated’ private swimming pool set within the landscaped private gardens and the four apartments are clustered around a shared pool.



La Durantie will be in keeping with the vernacular-style of the local villages.


Having so many picturesque villages on the doorstep makes for perfect day trips for residents and guests at La Durantie should they ever tire of the magic of “Le Village Préféré Des Français”.

The World’s Best Leisure Development!


Environ Communities has received a ‘World’s Best’ award from the International Property Awards for La Durantie; the new development of vernacular villas and apartments in the grounds of a historical belle époque style chateau in The Tarn.  The International Property Awards is the world’s largest property competition with 98 countries participating this year and sponsored by Virgin Atlantic and Yamaha.


Having already competed at country level and throughout the regional stages of the International Property Awards, the finest architects, developers, interior designers, and estate agents from across the globe gathered at the glamorous Grosvenor House Hotel in London on Friday 6th December to attend a glittering gala and to hear the long-anticipated results of the International Property Awards ‘World’s Best’ crowning event.


On accepting the much coveted award Tony Dowse said: “It is an honour to be presented with the ‘World’s Best’ award for La Durantie as we have had to fend-off some stiff competition along the way.  We spotted a gap in the market for a leisure development with luxury homes that would appeal to a cultured community of active fifty-something’s and created the chateau country club and high-tech spa at La Durantie. A lot of detail has gone into all aspects of the development to meet the requirements of our highly discerning buyers and it is rewarding to have this work recognised by the industry and to be announced as the leading leisure development.”


Construction of Phase 1 consists of 57 vernacular designed single and two storey one to five bedroom detached homes together with two styles of apartments with either two or three bedrooms.  All properties have lush landscaped rear gardens and most have a private pool.  Renovation of the chateau is already underway and construction of the first homes on the estate is due to commence in the first quarter of 2014, with the delivery anticipated for the end of 2014.  House prices in the leaseback scheme start from €313,560 (approx. £262,300) for a 1 bedroom house and range through to 5 bedrooms starting at €731,640 (approx. £612,000).*


The highest scoring entries for each category in Asia Pacific, Africa, the Middle East, Europe, UK and the Americas were automatically entered into the annual grand final.  Judging is carried out through a meticulous process involving a panel of over 70 experts covering every aspect of the property business. The judges not only look for the most impressive projects, but also examine the sustainability and innovation of every property and development that comes under their scrutiny.


Stuart Shield, President of the International Property Awards said: “Our World’s Best developers have represented their countries well and ought to be extremely proud. This award demonstrates their talent for producing work that has the potential to better the world. We welcome the 2013 winners in joining this exclusive international club of outstanding property professionals.”

Europe’s Best Leisure Development

Left to right – Lord Bates (Deputy Speaker & Deputy Chairman of the House of Lords), Tony Dowse (Environ Communities), David Boden (Environ Communities), Andrew Tull (CDP Architecture Ltd), Stuart Shield (International Property Awards)


La Durantie, the new development of vernacular apartments and villas in the grounds of a historical belle époque style chateau in The Tarn, has fought-off stiff competition to win the coveted accolades of ‘Best Leisure Development France’ and ‘Best Leisure Development Europe’, at the International Property Awards 2013-2014.  As part of the long established International Property Awards, such accolades are recognised as a symbol of excellence throughout the global industry and this year has been sponsored by Virgin Atlantic and Yamaha.


The most recent addition to this innovative French leisure development is the re-introduction of a 1.3 hectare vineyard which allows owners to lease or buy their own rows of vines; giving them access to their own piece of French history and the enjoyment of drinking their own wine whilst sitting on their sunny terrace.  Also, La Durantie’s own Master of Wine, Andy Howard who is one of the World’s 300 Masters of Wine will be running wine courses and organising guided tours of the surrounding domains.


The awards were presented to the excited life-long friends who form the Environ Communities development team behind La Durantie comprising of Tony Dowse (Master Planner) and David Boden (Financier) with architect, Andrew Tull (CDP Architecture Ltd) at the high-profile gala and presentation dinner at The Grosvenor House Hotel in Mayfair on 24th September.


Commenting on receiving the accolades, Tony Dowse says: “We are so delighted to receive these two prestigious awards.  Until now, we have been immersed in meticulously planning La Durantie, as we want it to be a development that we are proud of and for our owners to form a happy leisure community in this beautiful part of rural France.  It is our aim that the renovated chateau building and spa will become the social heart of the development providing a country club where owners and annual local members can dine, relax, be pampered and entertained.  The International Property Awards is deemed as one of the top awards in the industry and we are proud to be able to say that La Durantie is ‘Europe’s Best’ and celebrate this success tonight.”


Stuart Shield, president of the International Property Awards, says: “In the continent most renowned for its timeless architecture and awe-inspiring buildings, these winning companies are creating modern buildings and homes that enhance the beauty of their old-world cities while incorporating modern and innovative features.”


The European Property Awards rank amongst the most prestigious commendations in the residential and commercial property industries.  A high-calibre jury of international experts identifies the most significant building projects as well as the highest quality European real estate agencies and consists of approximately 70 professionals including Andrew Panting, Director of Operations for the British Property Federation, Peter Bolton King, Global Residential Director of the Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors (RICS); and Christian Morris, Director / Owner of architectural firm Yotomo Ltd.


At the end of the year, the highest scoring winners from the European Property Awards will compete against other winning companies from Asia Pacific, Africa, UK, the Americas and Arabia to find the ultimate World’s Best in each category.