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Manufacture Royale de Lectoure: An Abandoned Tannery Turned Retreat in Southwest France

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Manufacture Royale de Lectoure: An Abandoned Tannery Turned Retreat in Southwest France

French interior design journalist, stylist, and set designer Christèle Ageorges and her husband Hubert Derlance fell in love with the small town of Lectoure, in the Gers, while walking a stretch of the ancient Way of St James in 2017. Long-time Parisians on holiday, the couple had no real plans to move until serendipity knocked on their door, eventually leading them to discover a derelict 18th-century royal tannery which had been on the market for ages. After numerous transformations, the property had been converted into a retirement home in the 1960s, then abandoned for over 30 years.

Restoring the historic building to its former glory became an all-consuming project for Christèle and Hubert. They moved to Lectoure permanently and, working to French architect François Muracciole’s plans, slowly and respectfully brought the impressive tannery back to life with a team of skilled artisans. Manufacture Royale de Lectoure opened its doors to its first guests in summer 2022. Offering stylish, spacious bed and breakfast accommodation (two rooms and three suites) as well as hosting workshops, pop-ups, retreats, culinary events, and photo shoots, the couple will also be opening a private vacation wing with basin pool and garden.

Last but not least, true to their passion for walking—and their gratitude for the route that led them to Lectoure—Christèle and Hubert have created a minimalist Pilgrims’ Cottage in the former tannery’s cellars. For a modest sum, families and friends can break their hiking journey for a few days in a haven of peace.

Let’s take a look.

Photography by Jérôme Galland, courtesy of Manufacture Royale de Lectoure.

a stone’s throw from the main street, right in the heart of lectoure, th 17
Above: A stone’s throw from the main street, right in the heart of Lectoure, the majestic Manufacture Royale enjoys views of the ramparts, the surrounding countryside, and the Pyrenees mountains. The spa town—well known for its blue woad (a flowering plant often used as dye), antiques shops, and rich architectural heritage—has plenty to offer culturally and gastronomically, too.
for the love of history and luminous stone: the beautiful south facade features 18
Above: For the love of history and luminous stone: The beautiful south facade features a central clock and three bells crowned with silhouettes representing the Virgin Mary and two angels. The royal tannery was designed by French architect Pierre Racine in 1754.
“jardin,” the ground floor suite, leads directly into the garden. 19
Above: “Jardin,” the ground-floor suite, leads directly into the garden. It comprises a small entrance with a bench and desk area and a bedroom, bathroom, and dressing room.

Inside, soft hemp-colored walls are artfully combined with natural materials: linen (curtains by Madura), yarn (pendant lamps by Made by Hand), warm distressed wood, pale oak, and natural straw (bench and armchairs by Editions Midi, one of the few remaining traditional chair-makers in Provence). The darker bedroom recess creates a sense of intimacy.

In awe of the landscapes and forever-changing light in Gascony, Christèle instinctively felt that a natural, nuanced color palette would enhance the beauty of the building’s large rooms and high ceilings whilst creating a warm, relaxing atmosphere.

Together with Marie Grindel, cofounder of French eco-friendly decorative surface specialist Mercadier, she imagined an exclusive range of 20 limewash paints inspired primarily by the subtle shades of green, pink, terracotta, and stone all around her. (The collection is available on Mercadier’s website.)

a closer look at the sleeping space in the “jardin” suite, with p 20
Above: A closer look at the sleeping space in the “Jardin” suite, with panoramic wallpaper from Papiers de Paris, a Plec table by RS Barcelona, bedding from La Chambre Paris, Plaid blanket (Maison de Vacances), and handmade table lamp by Aurélie Lécuyer (via Grès).
a striking saracen vault staircase by artpège créations is finished i 21
Above: A striking saracen vault staircase by Artpège Créations is finished in dove-grey limewash.
honoring the tannery’s initial architect, “racine” is the  22
Above: Honoring the tannery’s initial architect, “Racine” is the most spacious suite (about 516 square feet), boasting a stunning bathroom with central rain shower. The owners opted for the charm and practicality of interior wooden shutters throughout the property as an eco-friendly alternative to air conditioning.
the “joseph” suite (named for one of the two duclos brothers who  23
Above: The “Joseph” suite (named for one of the two Duclos brothers who created the tannery) is home to the last remaining fireplace in the building, and this east-facing bathroom with modern clawfoot tub enjoys the best of the morning light. Royal!
pared down to a minimum, an almost monastic simplicity prevails in the limewash 24
Above: Pared down to a minimum, an almost monastic simplicity prevails in the limewashed vaulted cellars housing the Pilgrims’ Cottage. The cottage is composed of four dormitory cells and sleeps 14. Note the harmonious mix of old and new, with painted wood panelling salvaged from an old abbey, rustic-style camp beds, and a cluster of contemporary ceramic stools.
the chic sobriety of the largely monochrome pilgrims’ cottage is given a 25
Above: The chic sobriety of the largely monochrome Pilgrims’ Cottage is given a modern twist with a dark green ceramic stool from Woood that doubles as a bedside table. The dorms are sparsely furnished with simple, rustic pieces, including vintage pews.
christèle takes great enjoyment from preparing and serving breakfasts, hig 26
Above: Christèle takes great enjoyment from preparing and serving breakfasts, high teas, and welcome drinks in the garden at Manufacture Royale. Decades of experience as a stylist have taught her that no detail is too small when it comes to the art of living and creating a special, relaxing atmosphere in any corner of a home. The handpicked, handmade tableware by ceramicist Aurélie Champfailly Barbe in this breakfast room are just one example of her desire to champion local makers.

For much more on the property (and to book), head to Manufacture Royale de Lectoure.

And for more lodgings we love in France, see:

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