We are Kate and Marc, a New Zealand and French couple who have been living in the Brittany region for many years. We bought La Touche nearly 10 years ago and spent most of the first 6 years renovating our beautiful 250 year old barn, followed by our equally beautiful and only slightly younger home.
We have done as much of the work as possible ourselves and have used local tradespeople for specialist jobs where necessary. The whole project has been undertaken with the environment in mind. From the very start we decided to use hemp concrete, recycled paper insulation throughout, ecologic (plant-based) paints, and locally sourced and milled wooden floorboards.
Along the way we’ve had some help from a variety of people, all willing and keen to share their knowledge and expertise as well as muscle power! We’ve made some lifelong friends throughout making this more of a personal venture than merely a business project.
We were from the very outset of this project committed to minimising our impact on the environment, not only in the way we renovated the barn but also in helping our guests lower their impact too!
As such we provide full recycling facilities and will happily add peelings etc to our ever increasing compost heap! We also have dual flushing toilets to reduce water consumption.
During the renovation of the barn we kept lots of original materials we thought might come in useful later on in the building stage. We’ve used old shutters and windows for wardrobe doors and even used the original stone floor of the barn for the pathway outside. We kept the traditional cider press which now makes a beautiful feature in the garden. The trees that had to be taken down, were milled locally and are now drying, ready for later use as terrace decking. We have subsequently planted many more trees than were felled. We are slowly creating gardens both in front of the gîtes and our home garden.
Finally we know how easy it is to discard used items at the end of a holiday so we’ve created a book library and we also provide all those niggly essentials such as oil, salt and pepper to help reduce the need for our clients to go out and buy those vital ingredients every week.
One of the biggest areas we’ve focused on in these Gîtes is energy. We’ve installed wood burning stoves that are fuelled by recycled wood pellets. Situated in the middle of the large living area the wood burners heat the entire house. We have also installed a heat exchange ventilation system. This recovers the energy (heat) from the used air in the bathrooms and kitchen and pumps the heat into the bedrooms and living area. The hot water in the Gîtes is provided by a heat pump that harnesses the energy in the outside air to heat the water in the cylinder. Our own house has a ground source heat pump which provides the energy for heating the water and the central heating system for our home and the little Gite, La Souillarde.
We’ve tried to cover the basics as well by installing double glazing and made every effort to make the houses airtight for maximum efficiency. Energy efficient light bulbs and appliances are of course a no-brainer. Our insulation is 30cm think in the ceilings and 12cm in the walls and is made entirely of recycled paper!
Pleudihen is a welcoming and dynamic village with many associations providing various activities. We are involved in various associations and projects, one of which is a new project to create a jardin partagé – shared community garden here in Pleudihen.
We try to share tools amongst our friends, especially those which were needed during the renovation phase. We use local businesses to maintain our garden machinery and tools.
Being in a busy area, with lots of cultural events we work hard to point our guests towards local events of interest. Favourites include: the Fete du Doris, a colourful nautical festival held annually in August on the nearby river; La Fete des Remparts, a bi-annual medieval festival in Dinan; Etonnant Voyager, an annual travel literature festival held in St Malo. Additionally we direct guests to supporting regional food producers such as the wonderful boulangerie in the village, the weekly market, the local chevrerie – goat farm, the 2 cider producers and a boutique brewerie.
Finally we like to encourage responsible travel and try to promote sustainable options where practical (the ferry from Portsmouth to St Malo being a great option for our UK guests). We also have bikes on offer to help reduce road traffic in the area and our local bus service offers another alternative.