(CNN) — Finding himself at a unfastened finish on a wet day in France, triathlete Jeremy organized to view some properties within the quaint neighborhood he’d been staying in.
Originally from Wales, the father-of-two had been residing in Paris for a number of years, however after going by a separation, he turned set on the thought of transferring to the French countryside.
He realized he’d struck gold when he was given a tour of a dwelling in Courgent, a city situated within the Île-de-France area, about a 45-minute drive from the French capital.
However, it wasn’t simply the home that had him brimming with pleasure. It was the gorgeous, however closely uncared for swimming pool that got here with it.
Pool of potential
The renovation course of took round 12 months, however Jeremy is thrilled with the top end result.
While the pool had fallen into disrepair, it was clear that it had once been a powerful construction and may very well be once more — with a lot of work.
“I was absolutely amazed,” Jeremy, who has requested for his full identify not to be used, tells CNN Travel. “Because the potential to redo the swimming pool and create an exceptional project was everything I could imagine. I just thought ‘this is the place.'”
Jeremy, who has labored in actual property for a few years, quickly found that the house had once belonged to French actress Danielle Darrieux, who appeared in over 100 movies all through her eight-decade profession, in the course of the Nineteen Fifties.
After talking to locals, he realized that the swimming pool, thought to have been inbuilt 1938, had once been a common hangout spot, and plenty of recalled being taught to swim there.
Some even despatched him images of Darrieux, who died in 2017 on the age of 100, swimming within the pool throughout her time in the home.
Darrieux, who appeared alongside Douglas Fairbanks Jr. within the 1938 Hollywood film “The Rage of Paris,” is believed to have lived there for effectively over a decade.
“That made me even more motivated to do the project,” he admits. “This place has got a history. It’s got a story.”
Famous former proprietor
The pool is claimed to have once belonged to French actress Danielle Darrieux, who died in 2017.
John Springer Collection/Corbis Historical/Getty Images
Once he’d weighed the whole lot up, Jeremy says he cautiously put in a proposal that was “about 30 or 40% less than the asking price,” and waited for what he believed can be an inevitable rejection.
“I didn’t think he [the owner] was going to accept,” he admits. “But to my surprise he did.”
While Jeremy has labored on a number of lodge renovations, this could be his first swimming pool. The undertaking additionally occurred to price round 5 instances his unique price range.
“It hadn’t been used for over 35 years, so it was a wreck,” he explains. “We had to start everything from scratch.”
When it turned clear that the price of restoring the pool would not essentially be economically viable in phrases of including substantial worth to the house, Jeremy started to look into different methods of recouping some of the renovation prices.
Noting that there was no pool of this type within the space, he determined that he would rent it out for a few days a week, whereas preserving it for his personal private use the remainder of the time.
Jeremy says he managed to persuade the proprietor to permit him to start work on the pool earlier than the sale was full.
Determined to set the wheels in movement as shortly as doable, Jeremy did his finest to persuade the proprietor to permit him to start work on the pool earlier than the sale had gone by.
He then began negotiating offers with completely different firms to start the restructuring work, together with a specialist swimming pool firm, so as to remodel it into “the most beautiful heated lagoon in France.”
Jeremy signed the contracts in September 2020, in the course of the peak of the Covid-19 pandemic. He says by the point he formally turned the proprietor in February 2021, virtually 4 months of work on the pool was already full.
When it got here to the design, Jeremy opted to go as “over the top ” as he possibly could.
Some of the locals who first swam within the pool when it belonged to Darrieux have popped in to admire its transformation.
“I needed excessive rocks, LED lights, the total works,” he says.
The project involved setting up new infrastructures to accommodate electricity, gas and water — the water had come directly from a nearby river before — as well as installing new electrics, creating stone rock, and installing pipes, evacuations and feeders underneath the pool.
Jeremy says the entire renovation process took around 12 months and cost 500,000 euros (about $500,000), with around 330,000 euros spent on the pool, and the rest on exterior work, including the infrastructure, plants and terracing. He says he’s thrilled with the final result.
“It actually feels such as you’re in a pure lagoon, besides you are inside one hour from the most important metropolis in France,” he adds. “There are waterfalls and you’ll soar off the rocks from two meters excessive. You do not get the impression that you are in a swimming pool.”
Jeremy was stunned to unearth an old stone tiled path leading from the lagoon to the nearby river, with a fountain near its center, during the renovation process.
“That was a full discovery. I suppose I can say I’m the one particular person in Paris that owns a personal island,” he jokes, adding that he plans to renovate the path within the next year.
While the pool, which is 24 meters long and nine meters wide, with a depth of over two meters, is undoubtedly the main attraction, Jeremy is thrilled with his new home, which thankfully needed very little work before he moved in.
Since relocating to Courgent, which has a population of around 400, Jeremy says he’s settled in relatively easily and has been receiving great feedback from locals about the pool.
In fact, some of the villagers who first swam there when it belonged to Darrieux have popped in to ask if they can take a look at its transformation.
Darrieux had a long association with the town and apparently returned to the area later in life, living just a few kilometers away from her former home.
While Jeremy says he’s gotten a lot of support from the town hall since moving to Courgent, he’s been trying hard not to “step on anybody’s toes.”
“You have to watch out,” he explains. “You don’t desire to make an excessive amount of noise, or have an excessive amount of constructing work [going on]. But it is labored out fairly effectively.
The triathlete says he nonetheless feels overwhelmed when he takes a dip within the pool at evening time.
“One of the neighbors came to me a bit worried because she heard I was planning to have parties and somebody had said we were going to put a DJ in the trees.
“I advised her, ‘not this week, however ask me subsequent week.'”
Keen to maximize his 1.5 hectares of land as much as possible, Jeremy decided to import and renovate a 1974 American Airstream caravan, which overlooks the lagoon, and is also available for hire.
When he’s not enjoying the pool himself, hosting his daughters’ friends, or having the local school around for a visit, he rents it out for about 250 euros for two hours, or up to 3,000 euros per day.
Although it’s been getting rave reviews from customers, as well as onlookers, who sometimes pop in to ask if they can have a closer look, Jeremy is keen to add in some more special touches.
He plans to put in an electricity line so that he can light up some of the trees, and add a rose tunnel over the bridge and an outside kitchen.
“I’ll solely be glad when all the main points are completed,” Jeremy admits, explaining that it will likely be another year or two before the pool is fully complete.
In the meantime, he’s making the most of having a beautiful pool, or lagoon, with so much history at his disposal.
“Even now, I’m nonetheless overwhelmed whereas swimming at evening,” he says. “When it is fully darkish, you possibly can see the moon and the celebrities, and it is simply you, nature and the water.
“I always say it’s the equivalent to being in Costa Rica without the airfare.”