The House

A riverside house with specialised
sports-training facilities

Architect’s visualization of the proposed new design

Located in a quiet cul-de-sac on the eastern edge of Bergerac, on the north bank of the River Dordogne, this is a highly unusual house.

As originally constructed, the house included a large volume of inaccessible roof-space.

Built in 1964 in the “contemporary” style, its distinctive features included wedge-shaped side walls, a single-pitch roof and a cast-concrete internal structure.

Front view_CR (Custom)
It turned out that only 1 metre needed to be added to the overall height to make room for a usable third level.

In 2016 it was bought from its original owner by Edward Boileau, a London-based schoolteacher and rowing coach, who spent the following year modifying and equipping it as a base for his sports-training activities.

The design brief

Local architect Didier Grandjean was asked to develop a design for a new, higher roof structure which would provide sufficient additional headroom for a third floor.

Luckily, most of the problems were minor. Example: The high-tech self-draining paving system used for the roof of the new cellar space was surprisingly difficult to install.

Adding 50% to the total floor area, the new space would be used for a yoga studio, plus a cloakroom with shower facilities, and a separate classroom.

Access from the entrance lobby would make it possible for teaching activities to be kept separate from the living accommodation.

Grandjean’s brief was to meet these requirements while remaining faithful to the period style of the house.

An underground boathouse: whatever next?

While the house was expanding upwards, it was also being extended below ground.

It was decided to excavate a new cellar extension where formerly there was a ramp down to the basement garage. This would provide enough extra front-to-back space for the storage of sculling boats in the basement.

This overcame the planning obstacle which had arisen with the original plan for an external boathouse.

The French approach to project management

In France, the roles of architect and main contractor are often combined. This can make the process of selecting, directing and coordinating subcontractors simpler than in England. But there can be pitfalls too, as we discovered. Luckily, Grandjean and his team were highly professional and steered us past most of them without serious setbacks.

The story of the building project, and some of its complications, was told in a series of Blog posts, which can be seen here.


During the High season (May – October), the house is used for organised Chez Boileau training activities, and there is a series of courses which can be joined by individuals and groups. See the 2020 Activities page for details of what’s happening and when. This page also includes an availability calendar.

When not being used for Chez Boileau activities, the house will be available for weekly rental on a holiday-let basis to suitably-qualified tenants. (Tenants will generally be sports coaches themselves, or members of club groups who know how to use the facilities safely.)

The yoga studio being used for warm-up and stretching routines. The cork floor covering provides a warmer and more resilient surface than the conventional beech strip parquet.

The facilities

Living Accommodation: 4 bedrooms – 1 double, 3 twin – allows for up to 8 occupants. (Additional B&B accommodation can be found nearby for larger parties.) Large kitchen / dining area. Shower rooms on top and lower-ground levels, family bathroom on middle floor.

Teaching area: Top floor yoga studio with adjacent classroom equipped for video analysis etc. Also a cloakroom with showers and WC, and additional space for the use of fitness-training equipment. See floor plans below.

River access: With its 40 metres of private frontage to the river, the garden provides access to 14 Km of good navigable water. See the River Map for more details.

Cycling: Extensive local network of small uncrowded roads through historic and picturesque scenery, with well-documented routes for cyclists of all standards. Read more

Bergerac: A 15 minute riverside walk takes you into the historic town centre, with its selection of shopping, eating, drinking and entertainment establishments. Read more.

Floor plans

The top floor comprises a self-contained Yoga and sports training facility, with a large studio space, a classroom equipped for video analysis work, and a cloakroom with showers.
The ground floor contains the main accommodation, with an open-plan kitchen, dining and sitting area. There are also three bedrooms, a bathroom and a separate WC.
The lower-ground floor has a utility room with laundry facilities, freezer, and a separate WC. There is also a fourth bedroom, an office, and storage for up to 12 boats – singles and doubles.