There is currently a record number of châteaux for sale in France and the number continues to grow. But why is this? And could hundreds of historical buildings be left empty as a result?
Why is there a record number of châteaux for sale?
It was reported by property website Le Figaro that 1,500 French châteaux are currently up for sale. This is a record, and the figure is expected to rise.
But why are owners putting these beautiful buildings up for sale? According to the experts, both an increase in maintenance costs, as well as a shift in generational mindset, have prompted inheritors of these properties to sell up.
Olivier de Lorgeril, chairman of La Demeure Historique, says that “the younger generations are urban. They often want to have international careers and to live in towns and cities”. Recent years have also seen the costs of owning these homes increase due to ‘environmental rules and other bureaucratic initiatives.’
As well as the cost, time is also a huge factor. With young people pursuing full-time careers, having young families and also wanting time to socialise and enjoy life, there simply is not time to take on the huge task of running a château.
Will hundreds be left empty?
De Lorgeril has expressed concern about the increasing number of historic châteaux on the market. He said, “A monument that is not lived in is a monument that is not looked after. We keep repeating that our national monuments are in danger”.
In contrast to this, it was reported by The Connexion that the pandemic had created a boom in chateau sales towards the end of last year. Some buyers simply wanted a house in the country and weren’t daunted by the size and maintenance of a château, and others wanted to buy a château for professional reasons, such as turning it into a hotel or guesthouse.
However, it was noted that buyers weren’t looking for open-ended renovation projects – properties of interest were ready-to-live or those which only required straightforward renovations.
We spoke to Jacqui Reddin-Williams from Beaux Villages Immobilier about what is involved in buying a French château. She said, “As logic dictates, in order to renovate a château, you cannot just buy off-the-shelf items and many purchases need to be bespoke.”
Despite the challenges, however, for those who are looking for an adventure in France, the possibilities are endless. As Jacqui explained, “For those with the financial freedom to do so, and, more importantly, the spirit of adventure flowing through them, it is a wonderfully exciting opportunity that can result in a fascinating, life-changing journey.”
Read our full interview with Jacqui here.