- Huge range of châteaux in France can accommodate many budgets (FrenchEntrée)
- South-west France can provide exceptional value for those looking for fairytale properties
- Châteaux-based businesses available to those looking to profit from their dream home
As youngsters, many of us dream of living in a grand castle when we grow up. Most people’s ambitions change as they age, but for some, that fairytale never fades – and that’s where France’s plentiful châteaux come into play.
Of course, owning your own castle isn’t cheap, but the variety of styles, sizes and conditions on the market means that there are châteaux available to suit a surprising range of budgets.
“The region that a château is in can heavily influence the style. Pays de la Loire for example can be associated much more with ‘leisure’ châteaux, the historic playground of French aristocracy. Such châteaux were designed with elegance and aesthetics as the main concerns, whereas those in more contested areas, such as near to the Spanish border, were designed to be defendable.”
Fleur Buckley, Property Services Manager, FrenchEntrée
When looking at cost, buyers are sometimes drawn to renovation projects as a more accessible way to realise their grand ambitions, but for those unfamiliar with large-scale renovation projects or converting truly old buildings, the eventual overall cost is important to consider. This can vary based on region, but the average figure per square metre for renovation work is €700 and €1,500 (the latter if it’s a total rebuild). If the property is merely in need of internal modernisation and refurbishment (for example kitchens, bathrooms and heating) then you can generally reduce this figure by almost 50%.
As such, it can be an attractive proposition to acquire a château that is already in great condition and, for the business-oriented, generating revenue. In Dordogne, this château can seem like a considerable investment, but its sizeable revenue can help offset the cost. With over 18 hectares of land and architecture dating back to both the 12th and 15th century, an imposing estate awaits those looking to take over the reins of a successful hotel.
Châteaux often make fantastic settings for luxury accommodation, restaurants and wedding venues, while ample grounds open the possibility of running equestrian schools, hunting and fishing activities and plenty more. Working orchards, olive groves and vineyards can also provide business angles for those keen to work the land as part of their fairytale dream.
The inclusion of outbuildings with châteaux tends to provide plenty of flexibility for owners. Some rent them out as holiday properties, while others use them as accommodation for a caretaker or groundsman. Premium French property agents FrenchEntrée point out that the cost of employing such staff needs to be factored in from the outset.
“Running costs and upkeep are a major undertaking when you buy a property of this size. Heating, maintenance and tax alone mean a five figure spend on upkeep every year, which buyers need to take into account. For larger châteaux, a full time, salaried caretaker or groundsman is often essential. Providing an on-site cottage as accommodation can help to mitigate some of the cost of this, but minimum wage still exists in France – and at a higher rate than in the UK!”
Fleur Buckley, Property Services Manager, FrenchEntrée
Prices vary enormously based not only on the style and age of the château, but also its location. Buyers on a budget can focus their search around the South-west, while those with an eye for the pricier end of the market will delight in the châteaux available in Pays de la Loire and closer to Paris. Buyers looking to renovate a château typically come to FrenchEntrée with budgets ranging from €500,000 – €800,000 (excluding renovation), whilst those looking to buy already established have budgets of double that and upwards.
Either way, owning a château can’t be considered cheap. However, those with sufficient imagination, plenty of dedication and a head for business can find themselves living the dream for less than one might imagine.
Châteaux on the market:
For a truly impressive estate, this Loire château, 900 square metres in size, comes with not only its own moat but also 4 separate holiday cottages and 40 acres of land. Each cottage is larger than a typical 5-bedroom house, the largest of which is 270 square metres, almost a petit château in its own right. The château, rebuilt in 1863, has plenty of space to entertain, with 26 bedrooms and beautiful traditional features. On the market for €1,190,000.
As mentioned before, this three-star, 33-room hotel and restaurant offers an existing château-based business in the Dordogne. The château was built in the 12th and 15th centuries, before being converted into its current arrangement in the 1990s. Stunning views and a pool of course come as standard. The business generates a turnover of €900,000 for eight months of activity per year, which will go some way towards covering the purchase price of €6.386 million.
Continuing the trend of châteaux belonging to multiple centuries, this storied châteaux situated in the Loire Valley will no doubt appeal. With parts of the building dating back to the 15th, 17th and 19th centuries respectively, France’s architectural history is well-presented. 10 bedrooms, 4 hectares of riverside gardens and stables – not bad at all for just €890,000.