Updated: Nov 18, 2019
Both Escape to the Chateau and Escape to the Chateau DIY has evoked and highlighted a lot of interest and passion for those looking to buy a Chateau in France. We purchased ours 13 years ago, and we would like to share with you our decision process and any lessons learned over the years. There are so many elements to consider; take your time.
The guide is split into 3 parts
Part 1 - Location, Location, Location Part 2 - How big do you go? Part 3 - Complete renovation or ready to move in?
One of our biggest lessons; the property market in France is very different from that of the UK and time is on your side.
Step 1 - Where?
France is big with advantages and disadvantages for each region; it is best to hone your search to a specific area based on your needs. Save yourself time and money travelling the Country and do your homework first, don't be seduced by the pictures on the internet.
Location, Location, Location
Have you ever watched Location, Location, Location
with Kirstie Allsopp and Phil Spencer?
When choosing where to buy a Chateau, first consider the location? Try to think of yourself as a guest or a prospective buyer - I know it's early days and you're probably asking "why is she asking us to think about selling when we haven't even bought a Chateau yet," But, one day, it is likely you will look to sell the Chateau. Selling a Chateau can often take a long time in France and therefore, to minimise the time your Chateau is on the market, you want to ensure you have the ideal location to increase your audience.
View and Countryside were always an essential factor for us. Chateau La Perriere is opposite the Royal Fortress of Chinon, so for us, it was a big tick even before we'd got there. Being in the countryside was key , but we didn't want to feel isolated, and that is where La Perriere won for us. It is within walking distance of one of the most idyllic towns in France and an artisan patisserie on the doorstep; perfect, for your morning breakfast stroll. We love those French squares with cafes, and as both Paul and I have an architectural background, architecture was vital. So, when we walked around the town and ate in the square after viewing the Chateau, it was difficult to leave.
the Architecture was vital for us
buildings are our passion
Step 2 - Travel time to the Chateau?
Think about how guests, family or friends will get to the Chateau?
Unless you want to be isolated, it is worth considering how easy it is for people to reach you.
Will your guests travel by car, boat or plane?
What is the maximum distance a guest would want to travel from a port, airport or motorway?
What is there to do when a guest arrives?
Guests generally are looking to site see, what is spectacular about this location, why will people travel to you; apart from to see your gorgeous self, of course?
Chinon, is within 3 hours of the port, 45 minutes from an airport which runs flights to France, UK, Portugal, Morocco and Ireland and a 6-hour drive from Calais using the Eurotunnel. We purchased the Chateau as a holiday home, and with young infants, we wanted somewhere easily accessible in a days drive or a short flight within an hours transfer in a hire car. Although our initial intention for the Chateau was for a holiday home, our long-term goal was to create a business, so travelling distances were crucial to our decision process.
Step 3 - Business or holiday home?
Are you looking to run a business in France? There are several businesses you can run from a Chateau, B & B, Gites, restaurant, holiday rental, sporting businesses, wedding functions, vineyards or olive orchards; the list is endless.
Think about what you like, do you enjoy being around people, are you a natural host, do you enjoy meeting new people? If you don't, you probably won't enjoy running a B & B! However, there are many opportunities to make money at a Chateau and be aloof. Equally, if you are lucky enough, you may choose to live the dream or use the Chateau as a holiday home.
Are you creative, do you have skills or a talent you could offer to your guests or are you looking to have a studio for your art?
Look at Johnny Darko and Ashley from Escape to the Chateau DIY; Johnny is an remarkable artist, they bought their Chateau with Johnny's art creations in mind, studio space was vital.
Chateau La Perriere is a thriving holiday rental destination; we are always looking to improve the service we offer to our guests. Our ultimate goal is to hold intimate weddings for up to 30 people and become an artisan producer, growing our crops on site.
Step 4 - Will you manage the Chateau from abroad?
If you are looking to manage the property from afar? Investigate whether there is a company who can check on your property when you're not there or consider buying a property which has a guardians property. Guardians are people who live on site and manage the estate for you. Alternatively, consider house sitters, there are some great sites out there, and if you do your research, it is a great way to ensure your house is well cared for when you aren't there.
Our estate has a gatehouse, which lends itself perfectly to guardians. We couldn't run the estate without them. We have 10 acres of land, which consists of 4 acres of parkland which needs continual care and love, along with the holiday rental changeovers. After all, there are so many things to do at a Chateau; we didn't want to spend all our time cutting grass and weeding, we'd forever be chasing our tails! There have been times when we have had house sitters in; they were fantastic. Great when you have a gap in guardians or if you are managing the property yourself and are going on holiday. I'd even consider doing it ourselves one day.
Step 5 - Balance of heart and head?
Buying and maintaining a Chateau is expensive, you should also listen to your heart. Above talks a lot about the head, the smart decisions, but let's not forget the heart.
The key is The heart, it gives us
drive and passion to cope with all the things old buildings will throw at you