How to find a Chateau in France
Lee and I have owned a holiday cottage in Lower Normandy for 10 years now, so we are quite familiar with all things “French”, including the stunning architecture. One thing newcomers to France may notice is a proliferation of Chateaux. Castles in the UK are few and far between and most are tourist destinations; many are looked after by The National Trust and other similar organisations. Not so in France where many historic beauties are empty, discarded, unloved and some in ruins!
Lee had been yearning for a Chateau for some time when the financial opportunity came our way to make his dreams, and subsequently mine, come true. We talked endlessly about this crazy idea until it became our reality to actually make it happen.
At first, we fell in love with a beautiful property only about 30 mins away from our Normandy house. With a moat, turrets, grand salon and extensive grounds and gardens plus lots of renovation work needed, we had soon fallen in love. This charming place was not to become ours however; French inheritance law means that siblings jointly inherit property from their parents and in our case, the sister of three brothers refused to sign the deed of sale right at the last minute, saying she couldn’t bear to see it gone from the family and would buy it herself!
Our money was in France, already converted into Euros and so the hunt for our dream Chateau began in earnest. We booked a week away in January 2015 and off we went through the tunnel on our adventures. We had searched extensively on the internet to find the perfect place and had come up with a shortlist of 12 properties to visit, so spreadsheet in hand, the real search began.
Well, what a variety of amazing places we saw, nearly all abandoned and unloved. We saw ballrooms, libraries, ancient mouldy swimming pools, gardens, forests, turrets, grand fireplaces, but never another moat (not within our price range anyway). Towards the end of our trip, whilst staying in the lovely town of Sarlat to the south in the Dordogne, we visited the delightful XIVth Chateau Mareuil in Haute Vienne. A charming English couple had lived there for 12 years and had worked wonders with a previously uncared for little Chateau and its outbuildings, including a magnificent Donjon (castle keep).
We were immediately smitten and by the end of April 2015, Chateau Mareuil was ours. During the past 2 ½ years, we have continued the renovations at the Chateau, creating 2 beautiful luxury designer bathrooms in the Chateau itself, converting the old dilapidated chapel building into a bar/games room and office suite and turning an old goat shed into a smart studio apartment. Our 12m x 6m swimming pool is currently under construction and will be complete in time for the 2018 season. Next year we plan to convert a huge barn into a 5 bedroom house which will sleep up to 20 people.
On August 27th this year, our beautiful daughter married her Prince Charming at a tiny little chapel just 15 mins away from Mareuil, the wedding reception was held “at home” at Chateau Mareuil. This is a place to fall in love, as this couple did on their first ever trip away together. So to the future, we now have plans for an art gallery, antique shop, local foodie destination and much more.
We are now booking for the holiday season in 2018, why not come along and be amongst the first ever to swim at the beautiful, historic and romantic Chateau Mareuil?
Lee & Belinda Prince own Chateau Mareuil in the Hautes Vienne region of France. It has four bedrooms and can accommodate up to 10 guests. Price from £1500 per week in low season, to £2950 per week in high season.