When we purchased La Garenne in 1989, the cottages were derelict and dilapidated. We have numerous photos showing the sorry state that we found them in, with their roofs and yellow granite stone walls starting to crumble and show sad signs of neglect and financial hardship. During these times, often, the farmers would have been forced to sell the beautiful, but also valuable, dressed stone lintels that traditionally surrounded the windows and doors of Breton barns, replacing them with concrete lintels, in order to survive. We removed these concrete replacements and took care to source the original Breton dressed stone, which you will now see before you. We have an ancient well, which would have once had an ornately dressed stone well-head. Again, this valuable piece of artwork probably had to be sold during tough times, so we have since had one made in the traditional style, resulting in the attractive feature that now sits on our well.
All the walls which stand and the stonework we have sourced are fashioned from the yellow granite that characterises the area. They walls are over 2ft thick and in each cottage we have kept a large feature wall of exposed stone. During the renovations, in order to preserve the design and look of the cottages, we kept the upstairs window openings of the cottages at floor level, as they once would have been, when the upstairs areas would have primarily been used as haylofts. Rest assured, there are of course security features on all of these windows, so any inquisitive minds won’t succeed in planning their escape! The roofs of the barns are a traditional Breton thatch with a steep pitch and high apex. The thatched roofs are embellished with a unique Breton feature called a ‘faitage’, a decorated ridge, on which we have, as is the Breton tradition, chosen to grow four different plants, including the purple and white irises that you will see in Spring.
Each cottage here at La Garenne has its own story and place in the past. You will find unique features and characteristics in all of them. If you are interested in reading more about the history and past of each individual cottage, make sure you visit our individual cottage pages, which will tell you how La Grange, La Chaumiere, Le Pressoir and Le Fournil, have each undergone a transformation through the ages.