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Couple swapped their Kent semi for a nine-bed French CHATEAU that was half the price

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A couple who were sick of traffic jams have swapped their Kent semi-detached home for a nine-bed French chateau that was half the price.

Heidi and Anthony Muir were growing increasingly annoyed with the constant queues of cars blocking the roads near their Kent home every weekend.

They sold their £600,000 four-bedroom semi in the village of Allington, near Maidstone, Kent, and swapped it for a £370,000 grand French chateau and its surrounding grounds.

The nine-bedroom estate in central France that served as a French Resistance headquarters during the Second World War has featured three times on Channel 4 show Grand Designs before they bought it.

Now, Heidi, 55, and Anthony, 53, have started their new lives in the 19th century chateau, called Chez Jallot, where they are running a bed and breakfast business.       

Heidi and Anthony Muir (pictured with their three children after selling their Kent house) were growing increasingly annoyed with the constant queues of cars blocking the roads near their Kent home every weekend, so they sold their £600,000 four-bedroom semi in the village of Allington, near Maidstone, Kent

Heidi and Anthony Muir (pictured with their three children after selling their Kent house) were growing increasingly annoyed with the constant queues of cars blocking the roads near their Kent home every weekend, so they sold their £600,000 four-bedroom semi in the village of Allington, near Maidstone, Kent

They swapped their Kent home for a £370,000 grand French chateau and its surrounding grounds

They swapped their Kent home for a £370,000 grand French chateau and its surrounding grounds

The nine-bedroom estate in central France that served as a French Resistance headquarters during the Second World War has featured three times on Channel 4 show Grand Designs before they bought it. Pictured: A bedroom in the chateau

The nine-bedroom estate in central France that served as a French Resistance headquarters during the Second World War has featured three times on Channel 4 show Grand Designs before they bought it. Pictured: A bedroom in the chateau 

The bedroom features an ensuite bathroom with a copper bathtub (pictured)

The bedroom features an ensuite bathroom with a copper bathtub (pictured)

The couple, who have three grown-up children together, have no regrets.

Heidi explained: ‘It was always a bit of a hopeful wish to live in France, and never in a million years did we think we would actually end up living here.

‘We had always lived in Kent; Anthony comes from Walderslade and I came from Stockbury. We’d lived in our house in Allington for almost 30 years.

‘It was actually my grandmother’s from the late 1930s, so the house was always in our family, but we decided to make the move to France last year.

Heidi added: ‘We were looking for a holiday home, really, but decided to broaden our search and started looking at forever homes.

‘We remember watching Chez Jallot on Grand Designs in 2004 and really admired former owners Doug and Deni Ibbs.

‘We love Maidstone, we loved our house, we really did like the area and the kids had a great time at school and everything.

‘But what made our decision was the developments that were starting around the Allington area – the roads just couldn’t cope.’

Heidi explained that ‘thousands’ of new homes were being built in the area, which was exacerbating the problem of traffic on local roads.

She said: ‘The main London Road going into Maidstone was gridlocked most weekends, so this was one of the main factors of why we just wanted to change our lifestyle a little bit.

‘There are thousands of new houses being built in the area – not hundreds but thousands.

‘Roads are already congested and in the coming years the road systems will only get worse.’

Now the couple’s children – 25-year-old Bronwyn, 22-year-old Ewan and Toby, 21 – have all fled the nest, the Muirs decided to take the plunge and begin anew in mainland Europe.

Now, Heidi, 55, and Anthony, 53, have started their new lives in the 19th century chateau, called Chez Jallot, where they are running a bed and breakfast business

Now, Heidi, 55, and Anthony, 53, have started their new lives in the 19th century chateau, called Chez Jallot, where they are running a bed and breakfast business

The Muirs sold their four-bedroom, two-bathroom, semi-detached home in Allington for £600,000 and, with that money, bought the far larger chateau (pictured) and B&B business in the central French Nouvelle-Aquitaine region, for £370,000

The Muirs sold their four-bedroom, two-bathroom, semi-detached home in Allington for £600,000 and, with that money, bought the far larger chateau (pictured) and B&B business in the central French Nouvelle-Aquitaine region, for £370,000

The nine-bedroom estate in central France that served as a French Resistance headquarters during the Second World War. Pictured: The restored chateau with a kitchen and dining area

The nine-bedroom estate in central France that served as a French Resistance headquarters during the Second World War. Pictured: The restored chateau with a kitchen and dining area

The entire main house, which sleeps ten, can be hired for 450 euros (£395) per person, which includes breakfast and a two-course evening meal with half a bottle of wine per head. Pictured: The dining area

The entire main house, which sleeps ten, can be hired for 450 euros (£395) per person, which includes breakfast and a two-course evening meal with half a bottle of wine per head. Pictured: The dining area 

The distinctly French manor house boasts four large guest rooms, the master bedroom, loft space with the potential for another three to four bedrooms, two adjoining gites with two more bedrooms apiece

The distinctly French manor house boasts four large guest rooms, the master bedroom, loft space with the potential for another three to four bedrooms, two adjoining gites with two more bedrooms apiece

However, they are supported in running the chateau by their Shitzus Poppy and Coco.

The Muirs sold their four-bedroom, two-bathroom, semi-detached home in Allington for £600,000 and, with that money, bought the far larger chateau and B&B business in the central French Nouvelle-Aquitaine region, for £370,000.

The distinctly French manor house boasts four large guest rooms, the master bedroom, loft space with the potential for another three to four bedrooms, two adjoining gites with two more bedrooms apiece as well as a living area and kitchen.

The entire main house, which sleeps ten, can be hired for 450 euros (£395) per person, which includes breakfast and a two-course evening meal with half a bottle of wine per head.

The two pet-friendly, self-accommodating gites are available for a maximum of six people, from 100 euros (£88) per person, and suites in the chateau range in starting prices of between 95 euros (£83) and 150 euros (£132) per person.

The chateau has been featured three times on Channel 4 home-improvement show Grand Designs and was originally constructed around the year 1870, after Monsieur Jallot returned to the country from Paris, where he had been part of the reconstruction of the capital under President Napoleon III.

During the Nazi occupation of France in the Second World War, when France was initially split into the northern occupied territory and the southern free territory, Chez Jallot sat close to the dividing borderline.

It served as a headquarters for French Resistance forces, who trained volunteers at the château and harboured parachutists, aircrew and escapees – with up to 70 people living on the property at one time.

In July 1944, Nazi German troops searched the property and set it ablaze.

The main building was left derelict for more than 70 years before English couple Doug and Deni Ibbs bought the property in 2004 and built it up from the remaining shell of the house.

In July 1944, Nazi German troops searched the property and set it ablaze. The main building was left derelict (pictured) for more than 70 years before English couple Doug and Deni Ibbs bought the property in 2004 and built it up from the remaining shell of the house

In July 1944, Nazi German troops searched the property and set it ablaze. The main building was left derelict (pictured) for more than 70 years before English couple Doug and Deni Ibbs bought the property in 2004 and built it up from the remaining shell of the house

The chateau has been featured three times on Channel 4 home-improvement show Grand Designs and was originally constructed around the year 1870. Pictured: The lounge and dining area of the chateau

The chateau has been featured three times on Channel 4 home-improvement show Grand Designs and was originally constructed around the year 1870. Pictured: The lounge and dining area of the chateau 

The chateau in central France features nine bedrooms

The chateau in central France features nine bedrooms 

The Muirs sold their four-bedroom, two-bathroom, semi-detached home in Allington for £600,000 and, with that money, bought the far larger chateau and B&B business in the central French Nouvelle-Aquitaine region, for £370,000

The Muirs sold their four-bedroom, two-bathroom, semi-detached home in Allington for £600,000 and, with that money, bought the far larger chateau and B&B business in the central French Nouvelle-Aquitaine region, for £370,000

The distinctly French manor house boasts four large guest rooms

The distinctly French manor house boasts four large guest rooms

Heidi, who was made redundant from her management job in 2021, and avid cyclist Anthony, who left his job at the multi-sport activity venue Cyclopark in Gravesend, Kent, now share the running of their B&B business. Pictured: The kitchen and dining area

Heidi, who was made redundant from her management job in 2021, and avid cyclist Anthony, who left his job at the multi-sport activity venue Cyclopark in Gravesend, Kent, now share the running of their B&B business. Pictured: The kitchen and dining area 

Heidi added: ‘It was just four walls, because the house was burnt down in the war by the Nazis. When the Ibbs bought the house as a complete derelict shell they did it up.

‘So we’ve been very lucky that we’ve not had to do all that hard work that was already done all for us.’

Heidi, who was made redundant from her management job in 2021, and avid cyclist Anthony, who left his job at the multi-sport activity venue Cyclopark in Gravesend, Kent, now share the running of their B&B business.

As part of their visa, the couple have to complete 200 hours of compulsory French lessons.

‘When we have French guests it’s a little tricky to understand them so we’re grateful for Google Translate whilst we’re still learning the language,’ Mrs Muir admitted.

‘The lessons are fantastic, obviously, because our French is a little limited but there’s a lot of English-speaking people around where we live.’

And though the couple concede that it is difficult living so far from their three children, they are just an hour-and-a-half drive away from Limoges airport, which offers flights to seven different destinations across the UK.

The couple also admit they miss their friends and family in England – as well as chunks of cheddar cheese.

‘We also chose France as it’s only an hour-and-a-half flight from here to England so it’s really quick and simple to get back to the UK to see our children,’ Heidi added.

‘The lifestyle over here in France is very different to the UK. The French have a lunch break from midday to two pm every single day; so that’s difficult to get used to.

‘And despite the impressive selection of cheese in France, we do often miss a chunk of cheddar. Also everything’s closed on a Sunday so it’s like going back to those old-fashioned times.

‘But once we stepped foot in this house, we instantly knew it was the house that we wanted.

‘It’s just so peaceful and quiet out here. It’s very well known for walking holidays. It was a life-changing move that we do not regret.’

‘However, I would say to anyone thinking of doing what we did to definitely do your homework.

‘Make sure you visit lots and lots of houses because there are a lot of hidden things you don’t think about. If you want a different lifestyle then I would encourage anybody to make the leap.’

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