Revealed! Top tips for becoming party of the new landed gentry

How YOU can escape to the chateau! As French property prices fall, experts reveal how to become part of the new landed gentry – including finding the best bargains in rural spots or buying an apartment in a conversion

  • Property experts have provided tips on how you can afford a château in France
  • Sarah Francies, from Sifex, said look at websites that specialise in châteaux sales
  • Julie Savill advised to search South of the Loire and north of the Dordogne rivers

While many of us have day-dreamed about living in a castle, it seems this mere vision could soon become a reality as French property prices are on the decrease. 

Avid property fans have spent hours watching Dick and Angel Strawbridge in Channel 4’s Escape to the Château, as they set out to renovate a 45-bedroom Château-de-la-Motte Husson in France, which they bought in 2014 for €321, 817 (£280,000). 

But speaking to The Times, several property experts have offered their top tips on how you, too, could become part of the new landed gentry – including the best regions to look for properties and important things to consider.   

Sarah Francis, who works for Sifex – a property website that specialises in the sale of châteaux – has told how the least expensive areas tend to be rural environments without easy access to travel.   

Meanwhile, Patrick Joseph of My French House, an estate agency, added that in general, the cheaper the château, the more expensive the project. 

This renovated château near Rouen in Normandy boasts ten bedrooms and is on the market for €1.7 million (£1.4 million) through Prestige Property

 This 13th-century château near Aulnay, Charente-Maritime, has seven bedrooms and is on sale for €657,000 (£571, 547) through Sife

BE IN THE KNOW

According to one expert, the selling process is ‘discreet,’ so those hoping to buy would be best looking at property websites that specifically specialise in châteaux sales. 

‘Most vendors would be horrified if a potential buyer were to appear without an agent,’ Sarah explained. 

‘Many would prefer not to be present and to leave the agent to broker the deal. As a result, the whereabouts of châteaux on the market tends to be a jealously guarded secret.’   

DO YOUR RESEARCH 

Don’t be fooled by a château which appears to be a bargain, because all may not be as it seems. 

According to expert Patrick Joseph of My French House, it could indicate the impressive property needs a lot of work doing, and could cost a bomb in the long-term.  

‘As a rule, the cheaper the château, the more expensive the project, the more time it will take to complete and the longer it will take to start generating income,’ he said.

For many, the attraction of the properties are its lucrative business possibilities – with vendors raking in a fortune after converting them into ideal hotels or wedding venues.      

This château is located near Chinon in the Loire Valley and features conical towers and water-filled moats. It is for sale on Sifex for €928,000 (£807, 299)

This ten-bedroom 13th-century moated château in Mayenne, just north of the Loire, is on sale on Leggett for €595, 000 (£517, 611)

CONSIDER RUNNING COSTS

More often than not, the hefty price tag for running a chateau is usually the very reason they end up on the market.

The experts told how many get so carried away with the long-term plans for the property, they forget to consider important costs – including the taxes. 

Additionally, the expense of the annual maintenance must also be carefully thought-out, as a healthy supply of savings will no doubt be required. 

CHOOSE AN AFFORDABLE AREA

The mountainous region of Auvergne is one of the most affordable places in France – and is a good place to start if you’re looking for a chateau, according to a property expert. 

With €441,000 (£383, 641), you can bag yourself a 15th-century château with an independent guest house and outbuildings in Allier through Leggett estate agency.

Meanwhile, a château in Puy de Dôme, which boasts seven bedrooms, has recently been reduced to €598,000 (£520, 220) through Sifex.

‘The least expensive areas tend to be more rural environments without easy access to travel,’ explained Sarah.   

Julie Savill from French estate agency Beaux Villages Immobilier went on to say how some of the best buys are in secret areas – including South of the Loire and north of the Dordogne rivers.

The expert also advised considering areas north of the Vienne and Indre borders.

BUY AN APARTMENT WITHIN A CONVERSION 

Another property expert suggested if purchasing a château in its entirety is out of the question due to finances, there’s also the option of buying an apartment within one.

She went on to say how a three-bedroom château apartment in Indre-et-Loire is on the market for €275,000 (£239, 232) with My French House. 

Alternatively, Leggett are advertising a four-bedroom tower in an 18th-century château in the Dordogne for €593,600 (£516, 393). 

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