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Southern hospitality ‘Sans Frontières’

July 2, 2016

Perched behind the city walls of ‘Caumont-sur-Durance’, the restored upper levels of this 17th century villa now have a commanding view of the medieval towns of ‘Alpilles’, ‘Luberon’, ‘Ventoux’ and ‘Dentelles’. This stone work of this classical structure was restored by a qualified team of craftsmen utilizing nothing but the finest collage of antique reclaimed architectural stone elements. Nowadays the guests of this villa are received year round in an unexpectedly comforting, meditative and picturesque setting.Le-Posterlon-3

The ‘Luberon’ sits on a hill and is surrounded by ramparts dating from the fourteenth century. The town of ‘Caumont-sur-Durance’ and ‘Vaucluse’ are home to 17th century old silk mills restored into a guest house. You bet that for the past 15 years Ancient Surfaces has been hard at work restoring and reclaiming countless of those architectural gems with many top notch regional boutique architects who have made it their lifelong goal to keep this part of the world caught in a time warp.Le-Posterlon-2

Adjoining the church of penitents and the high walls of the city, the building dominates the plains bordered by the Durance and offers stunning views on the mountains of ‘Alpilles’, ‘Luberon’, and ‘Mont Ventoux’ nicknamed the “Giant of Provence” and West of ‘latter’, ‘mountain’, and ‘Dentelles’.Le-Posterlon-14

Its proximity to one of the five gates in the wall, the ‘Gate of the Penitents’, also called the ‘Posterlon’ gave its name to this guest house created by Patricia and Pascal Grosjean.

Pascal who is a native of the village was the project manager of the renovation project. She has confidently shouldered the restoration works of this old house that also happens to have once belonged to his great-aunt. “It is a large building with three levels of cellars” he confesses. The bottom level isn’t even open to the public as it is connected to the underground hidden passages network connecting the old town.
She discovers many limestone troughs and vessels as well as old cooking ware, silver ware and utensils piled up under the old double arched foundations at the edges of the old weathered foundation stone block. The three main restored facades of the structure sit under a big Genoese tree.Le-Posterlon-9

The stone walls have long lost their plaster layer and have been replaced with a rich layer of lichen and moss that is centuries in the making. Its music for the eyes to the owners, staff and guests who prefer the raw natural look of the stone vs the honed polished traditional look they are so tired of seeing in contemporary and modern stone veneer coating and applications.Le-Posterlon-4

In the past 15 years alone over half of the village dilapidated homes have been luckily restored thanks to the artisan efforts and expertise in antique material supply of Ancient Surfaces and many of its network and affiliates across the south of France and the Mediterranean.Le-Posterlon-18

Renovating old buildings has never been so popular even though it’s been an ongoing industry since at least the 16th and 17th century. The first old house which we’ve directly supplied ancient stone elements to was back in 1986 ago when we transformed an 800 years old ruin back into a living space keeping with the exact artistic and historic nuances of the building.Le-Posterlon-10 30 years later that project is still ongoing and will probably take another 30 years to complete!
Luckily for the ‘Posterlon’ only six years of renovation had to roll by before it was able to be reopened to the general public back in 2007.

The Antique reclaimed limestone floors came from about nine various structures from the South of Europe.
One of the living-dining rooms is recomposed by a mix of antique terracotta tiles and Biblical Stone pavers directly from our ‘Houdan’ stocks. Small collages of Encaustic tiles were also mixed with the Biblical Stone for an exceptional and unprecedented look.
The high ceiling of this room was completely redone while the antique 17th century limestone fireplace supplied by our company replaced the collapsed original piece that was no longer able to be salvaged for structural reasons.Le-Posterlon-19

The interior walls revealed the simplistic beauty of the antique stone facings that were collaged from two distinct yet similar looking blend of natural limestone cladding. In some parts of the house like the original old barn, the walls were left filled with the original mortar made from hemp and pumice, a natural and environmentally friendly material developed by the locals’ centuries ago.
The owners were even able to restore unearth furniture fragments and antiques that were scattered throughout the house. The finds were restored, repurposed and reincorporated into new elements or architecture.

Thus she was able to furnish her dining-room with many salvaged furniture pieces like an old haberdashery that was patina finished. Surmounted by a large brewery mirror whose frame hemmed beads receives the same finish.Le-Posterlon-6

A respect for authenticity is inherent throughout the restored villa. Take for instance the old shutters that were mounted on antique forged metal supports acting as screen doors or room dividers to the kitchen leading to the hallway passage.

The lobby and the wide stairs have also been restored with original antique limestone. The steps reflect the elapsed time in the house wearing the marking of those running up and down the stairs for centuries.Le-Posterlon-1

The kitchen was originally a stable and a doorway was opened to join it to the dining room. Extensive structural considerations and reinforcements had been taken to insert the stone frame doorway. Under a bleached wooden ceiling, a contemporary looking kitchen was created and nuanced shades of gray and white mix well with the stainless steel appliances.Le-Posterlon-11

A series of terracotta glazed pots and coffee makers were settled into the background.
For the upstairs bedrooms and suites similar attention to design details and amenities were considered.Le-Posterlon-17

Guests are invited to rearrange the furniture to their own liking. Natural and relaxing Venetian plaster tones on the walls and ceilings, accented with a gray patina.Le-Posterlon-15

The layout of the garden consists of decks lining below the majestic existing stone walls.
Originally, there were three houses leaning against these high walls as if being sheltered by the rampart.Le-Posterlon-5

The architect has designed relaxation areas, deck benches, and stone pedestal tables for those cravings idleness or in pursuit of serenity.
A vine that has invaded the exterior occupies a small terrace where you can take a few snacks surrounded by a hefty dose of greenery. Near the kitchen, a large patio is shaded by an old fig tree that hosts the breakfast table and the summer siesta corner.Le-Posterlon-13

A swimming pool was situated against the wall and is decorated with some old watering cans, glazed antique terracotta jars and jugs that Patricia had fun dispersed although the outdoor. We even found a small collection on the wall of the reception near the entrance of the house, covered below and above the beautiful hydrangeas.Le-Posterlon-12

And it is in this peaceful atmosphere protected by the fortifications of the old village of Provence, that owner and staff receives their guests all smiling with ice cold peach lemonade. I guess that Southern hospitality is a universal theme. Once there just make sure to visit in the regional “Roman Garden” near the remains of a Gallo-Roman villa of the 1st century with its eight thematic gardens planted with Mediterranean species.


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