Former racing driver Gerald Ashmore has put up his family home in Brittany for sale with local mayoral approval to operate as a B&B. Bill Lumley catches up with him at his property on the Emerald Coast.
An elderly British couple are selling their beloved property in northwest France with approval from the local authority for use as a B&B.
After an accomplished racing career in the 1960s, former British Formula One racing driver Gerald Ashmore was self-employed, buying and selling commercial cranes world- wide, when he fell in love with the house and bought it some 25 years ago. The family initially used the property on the Côte d’Émeraude of Brittany as a holiday home, before moving in to live there full time.
The beaches of Côte d’Emeraude, or Emerald Coast, are among France’s treasures. The peninsula of St-Jacut is a peaceful resort with many small coves. An attractive coast of rocky headlands and safe sandy beaches, it is dot- ted with family seaside resorts. Located on a narrow peninsular some 16 km from St-Malo, St-Jacut itself is a 19th century seaside resort. It was founded by the Irish monk of the same name, who established an important abbey in the vicinity. The vast expanses of sand make a perfect place to collect shellfish at low tide.
Having acquired the Brittany property, owing to the international nature of his job, Ashmore inevitably travelled a great deal, but when his daughters left home, in order not to leave his wife on her own, he restricted the business he conducted to the UK and Northern Europe.
When the family first acquired the property, alongside the main house was a partly built additional house that still required work. They turned it into a six to eight-sleeper with three showers, 3 WCs, one bath and three basins and with a large garden, and they ran it as a gite for 10 years.
Some years ago the local mayor wanted to widen the road on which the 1960s property was located, and in so doing took away two metres of frontage. By way of compensation, new sewage pipes were brought to the boundary of the property, replacing the exist- ing septic tanks, which were no longer permit- ted following a change in the law in 2011. This change meant a huge number of France’s 5m septic tanks no longer complied with regulations. This agreement, which meant the family did not have to install a new tank, illustrates the way in which establishing and maintaining a strong relationship with the local mayor in France can work to the benefit of the small commercial property owner in France.
Not content to sit back on his laurels, Ashmore then had the roof removed from the house, and above a single bedroom bungalow a further three double rooms were installed with two showers, two lavatories and two wash basins. A guest lounge was subsequently located at the top of the oak stairs, with French windows leading onto the new roof patio above the sun lounge and one room, with French windows leading onto the same patio. Overlooking the sea at the front mean- while is another double room with French windows onto its own balcony.
At the same end of the house there is a tower, with the front door leading to a small hall with a fully equipped bathroom. Small stairs then lead up into the tower itself, which has a single bed and fitted wardrobes plus another small ladder-type set of steps to the top room where there is another single bed.
Among the modernisations that the 1960s property has since undergone, the house has also been re-wired.
Gerald was diagnosed with prostate cancer about 15 years ago. Successfully treated at first, the cancer has recently returned, and he and his wife are now reluctantly putting their property up for sale.
He says: “We never actually ran the house as a B&B, but a dear friend introduced us to a lady from the Cumbria area, and when she looked over the house she said it would make a fantastic B&B business.”
The property is offered fully furnished. It is located just a 10-minute walk from the village, where there are 11 beaches, three bars, four restaurants and one hotel. Ticking the boxes regarding tourism potential, the property is four miles from Dinard Airport, which is served by Ryanair from both East Midlands and Stanstead airports. It is 12 miles from the ferry terminal at St. Malo, 15 miles from Dinan, and seven miles from Dinard itself.
Ashmore says: “When we bought the neigh- bouring building eight years ago it was not detached, and we used it as a rented holiday home, or gite, through French Country Cottages. It was attached and accessed through our garage through a door into the lounge.
“When we decided to sell up we wanted to sell it as a detached property, so we made the necessary alterations to make it totally detached. The only reason we have found ourselves having to sell up was because old age caught up with us and we could not manage all the necessary maintenance any longer,” he says.
After the road alongside the property had been widened, he says, “The house was high- er than the road level we invested a great deal in carrying out a thorough job in fortifying the wall all the way around the property.” Such has been the success of the transformation of the property that it now has local mayoral approval to convert it into a B&B.
Ashmore says: “It can very easily be found less than four miles from the airport. Drive through the village of Ploubalay and turn right at Trégon and it is on the main road on the western edge of the bay heading north towards Saint Jacut de la Mer.”
The bedrooms comprise one double with an en suite bathroom, a room with twin beds and a double room that share a bathroom, a double room with en suite on the ground floor, and a tower with single room and en suite bathroom leading through to another single room.
There is a guests’ lounge at the top of the stairs with TV and a three-piece suite and access to the patio terrace above. The front top bedroom has a balcony overlooking the bay.
Although the property is ready to be used as a B&B, Ashmore says the front gar- den needs a certain amount of attention. “Although the rear garden has been mown and maintained, owing to our old age in recent years the front garden has been
neglected,” he says.
The garden features a greenhouse and a shed. There is also an electric gate opening and closing mechanism awaiting installation.
Ashmore reflects: “I feel very sad to be leaving the property after all these years. It has been absolutely lovely.”
The owners are seeking upwards of €550,000.