The Good Life France Magazine

The Good Life France Magazine brings you the best of France - inspirational and exclusive features, fabulous photos, mouth-watering recipes, tips, guides, ideas and much more...

Published by the award winning team at The Good Life France

1 year ago

Issue No. 23

Welcome to the summer! In this issue discover Dijon in Burgundy, sensational Strasbourg (and a secret speakeasy), and lovely Cognac. We'll tell you where the locals go on holiday, the secret places. Visit Versailles and the Paris Opera, Le Touquet - the "Monaco" of northern France and wild Provence. Guides, recipes and more - your trip to France without leaving home...

“It was uninhabited

“It was uninhabited for many years and was in a terrible condition” says Billy, but the couple were undaunted. Billy’s brother Michael joined them to help our with the renovation after he too fell under the castle’s spell. And in 2018, Gwendoline and Billy welcomed baby Ernest to the chateau which has gone from being a neglected shell of a sleeping beauty to a fabulous home and business. A chateau isn’t an easy option When it comes to owning a chateau, upkeep costs are much higher than for a normal home. There’s almost always a constant need for maintenance and if your building is listed, you might need to get permission to renovate from Monuments Historique (Read about the requirements on page 102). In this case, the Chateau de Basmaignée is not listed. “When people dream about being chateau owners they usually think of themselves living like royalty, but unless you really are royalty, that’s not really how things go and we knew that right from the start” says Gwendoline. The couple took out a loan that enabled them to keep renovating and living until they could earn an income. They have done most of the work themselves with the help of family and friends, though they have had professional help when it comes to electrics and plumbing. They invested in essential equipment including a cherry picker. “By doing as much as we can between us, we estimate we’ve reduced the costs by 80%” says Billy adding “We focus on the work room by room, rather than think of what needs to be done over the whole chateau. When people ask “when will the chateau be fully renovated?” We tell, them, there’s not set date, we have to go step by step. It’s like any other renovation project, only it’s going to take longer.” The chateau is their only means of income and Gwendoline admits “we don’t have any idea of how much we can earn when it’s all finished, we’re not planning that far ahead. For now, we are just trying to make it so the chateau can pay for itself and for the renovation work, though we’re not really certain how much that needs to be.” Their hard work is paying off, the castle is now a stunning B&B, wedding venue, and hosts antiquing weekends. “There’s renovation, maintenance, the business to run, a baby to look after and it’s a serious challenge to balance it all but it’s totally worth it – we love it and wouldn’t change a thing” says Gwendoline. “To buy a chateau, you have to be determined, prepared to work seriously hard and perhaps just a little bit mad” adds Billy though he smiles when he says it.