La Vie du Château

La Vie du Château is a dream that many people still have when they start the house hunting process in France and ‘how much for a Château’ is a question I am often asked. There is definitely still a perception that it is possible to buy a French Château for next to nothing so I often have to disappoint people by telling them that, in this region at least, a decent small Château starts from around 800,000 Euros. That is not to say that I can’t find you one for less; in fact I have recently viewed a pretty Château for a client, on the market for just over 600,000 Euros and another of even more ancient origins (Knights Templar allegedly) at around the same price. I think I could probably secure either for not much over the 500,000 Euros mark. But – and there is always a ‘but’ – both need money spending on them. The former is structurally in very good condition with a new roof, windows and state of the art wood-fired central heating system and has already had a few hundred thousand spent on it. Inside however, it is a different story with a fair bit more investment needed to restructure and re-fit it to make it comfortable and more appropriate for modern day life. The second is structurally sound but also need re-organization of the interior plus has very little land – the majority having already been sold off to pay for its upkeep which is another familiar story.

The advantage of both of these Châteaux however is that neither are money-pits as is the case with so many of these historic properties and I do try to steer my clients away from any property that is going to need continual, on-going substantial investment; unless they have the same to spend on the property as they have to buy it and a very good, long-term source of funding. The last thing I want is for my clients to buy their very own albatross when there are so many lovely, character French houses available which will be a good investment and a pleasure to own rather than a drain on finances and energy. The properties which work best for modern-day living are the Châteaux and manor houses which are small enough to feel like comfortable homes but large enough to have the high-ceilings and feeling of historic grandeur.

We are lucky in this area; there are some very beautiful Châteaux and manor houses here (of a much more manageable size than, for example, the grand Châteaux of the Loire) which can make excellent homes. The Gers region has apparently the highest concentration of Châteaux in France, the majority of which are tucked away out of sight and many of which, when for sale, never reach the open market so finding them is far from easy. But that is of course where I come in…

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