Laura Ashley's luxury French home for sale for £8.9m

Image caption, Le Preverger was used as a holiday home by the Ashley family

A luxury estate on the French Riviera owned by the late designer Laura Ashley's family has been put on the market for £8.9m.

Le Preverger, in the village of La Garde-Freinet, near St Tropez, is a pre-Napoleonic farmhouse in 150 acres.

Laura Ashley went from small beginnings in a Powys village near Newtown, to having 5,000 shops worldwide.

The Ashleys are understood to have bought Le Preverger in 1982, three years before Mrs Ashley's death.

Now their son Nick has put the opulent property in Provence up for sale for 9.9m Euros (£8.9m).

Neighbours are reported to include Hollywood star Johnny Depp, while the Ashleys entertained the likes of Diana, Princess of Wales and former Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher at Le Preverger.

Mr Ashley told the BBC Wales News website how his parents had vowed to "work like hell" when they started in business, so they could afford to buy their dream home in St Tropez - dubbed the playground of the rich and famous.

He said: "My mother's love affair with Provence goes back to 1949, when she came here on her honeymoon on the back of my father's motorcycle.

"They vowed to work like hell, become successful and buy their dream home in St Tropez."

Picasso and Bardot

The Ashleys bought the house in 1982 from French actress Jeanne Moreau, and Mr Ashley said it had a great history of entertaining.

When his mother went to view the property there were photographs of the artist Pablo Picasso and model Brigitte Bardot on show, as some of the celebrities who had visited.

Mr Ashley said Diana, Princess of Wales was one of her parents' guests, as was Baroness Thatcher.

"My father used to fly her (Baroness Thatcher) around in his helicopter - not that he was a Thatcherite, he just admired the woman," he said.

Mr Ashley said the property was now "surplus to requirements" - but what would his mother think about the plans to sell her dream home?

Image caption, Bernard and Laura Ashley bought their 'dream home' near St Tropez in 1982

He added: "My mother wouldn't mind at all. She came from a quite strict Welsh Baptist environment in Wales. She had grown up with certain values, and one of those was that you don't own anything, such as property, it's only on loan."

The estate, tucked away in the hills above St Tropez, is described as the size of a hamlet with a main farmhouse and several smaller properties, such as a house for guests.

"The main house has four double bedrooms. It's fundamentally a farmhouse," Mr Ashley explained.

"My parents bought it for the land. They thought owning land was one of the finest things in life, so they bought 150 acres of oak wood in a national park, which is a few miles from St Tropez.

"It's in an elevated position, so it's cooler in the summer. It's sophisticated and refined, and a place where you can get away from the crowds.

"It has been used as a holiday home by the family and we could continue to use it that way, but it's too important for that and it needs to be used on a daily basis."

From humble beginnings at the Old Railway House in the sleepy village of Carno, Laura Ashley grew to have 5,000 retail outlets worldwide.

In 1984, the firm opened its new company headquarters in Newtown, creating 500 jobs.

But in the 1990s its fortunes faded, and in 2004 its former headquarters in Carno closed.

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