As a young boy in Normandy with his grandparents, Arnaud designed the farm that he would have “when he grew up”. The winding ways of life took him in other directions, but he never gave up his dream. Involved in this sector’s large-scale industrial farms via his career as a vet in the animal health industry, Arnaud has always argued that there has to be more than just the one productivist and industrial model of agriculture. When Arnaud and Fabienne settled at Domaine de la Valette, they had an opportunity to develop an ambitious agro-tourism project, build their farm, rear old French domestic breeds (representative of their terroirs) that are under threat or only found in small numbers, and demonstrate that a different, sustainable, environmentally friendly, balanced, healthy system of agriculture is also possible.
The agricultural buildings found on the Domain in 2014 did not provide the animals with good living conditions in cold or rainy weather. Initial plans were drawn up with the help of the Chamber of Agriculture, but the aesthetics also had to match the history and charm of the Domain’s characterful gîtes. In addition, they had to be viewed as a framework showcasing a forward-looking project with strong local roots. This is when the project was taken up by a talented architect and artisans who adapted, shaped and moulded the complex with love and passion. Ancestral expertise and the help of numerous comrades was used to make this one of the region’s flagship products. This childhood dream became the project of around fifty masons, stone cutters, carpenters, joiners, electricians, plumbers, diggers and blacksmiths proud of their work who were all fully committed to leaving their mark on history. We owe them our thanks.
Combining fantastic traditional heritage devoted to animals with modern, operational and functional animal-rearing buildings, this farm is a working breeding farm rather than an educational establishment or museum. It is built on local domestic breeds that are only found in small numbers or are in danger of dying out, and on direct contact between producer and consumer. “These ancient local breeds are perfectly in line with the spirit of our time: consuming less but better quality. Less meat, less often, but high-quality, tender, healthy and with a good flavour”, the founder emphasises. “There are no intermediaries between us and the consumer, because behind our animals stand a history and a passion which only the farmer can share”.
In order to establish this bond of trust, you have to be able to show what you stand for in beautiful style. At first sight, the architectural results are striking.
“Having a heritage farm and charming gîtes together on the Domain represents an original idea that illustrates the owners’ way of doing things: advocating a particular way of life and investing in heritage, whether built or living.”