Business

Former BIBA CEO launches French holiday rental

  • Home from home: the dining area at La Grange Fleurie (Photograph supplied)
  • Home from home: the barn and house at La Grange Fleurie (Photograph supplied)

The former head of the now defunct Bermuda International Business Association has launched a tourist rental business in France.

Deborah Middleton, formerly chief executive officer of Biba, retired to the Spanish island Majorca in 2006. She moved to France in 2017, where she purchased a farmhouse with attached barn about an hour south of Limoges in the Limousin, an area of central France known for its lakes and forests.

After renovating the barn to create a two-bedroom, two-bathroom vacation rental, she has opened La Grange Fleurie (The Flowery Barn) for business. Ms Middleton said she concentrated on keeping the barn as full of character as possible with exposed beams, stone walls, several French doors and a two-storey, full-height, open concept living area.

The property was recently given a four-star classification by L’Agence de Developpement et de Reservation Touristiques. Ms Middleton said the classification is based on the quality of the decor, facilities, amenities, safety equipment and small luxuries.

“Having spent a lot of time in hotels when I was marketing Bermuda as a financial centre, I had a good idea of what I wanted to have in my vacation rental and at the same time add a few personal touches, such as homemade preserves,” she said.

The Limousin is a much-loved vacation location for the French as well as international visitors lying half way between Paris and the South of France, Ms Middleton said.

Some people will break their journey there before going further south, Ms Middleton said, while others will stay to enjoy the lakes, country walks, golf, fishing or visit some of the charming and historic towns, such as Collonge-la-Rouge, Oradour sur Glane, Argentat, and Segur-le-Chateau.

“In terms of Europeans, it is especially popular with the Dutch and the British, and we see many of their licence plates here in the summer,” she said.

“Apart from its magnificent natural beauty, this is an area steeped in history. It was a major resistance area during the Second World War and there are many monuments to the fallen or those deported to concentration camps. The other day, on a walk in a field well off the beaten track, imagine our surprise when we came across an old rusted the Second World War era car full of bullet holes!”

La Grange Fleurie already has bookings from Bermuda, France, England, Majorca, Australia, and the United States, Ms Middleton said.

La Grange Fleurie, Gourdon-Murat, is on Facebook. Ms Middleton can be contacted at middleton.deborah@orange.fr