Tips for Buying a French Chateau, Estate or ManoirFor many, buying a French property is a dream – something they plan for over many years. That is never more the case than when the property you have in mind is a château full of style and history.
Buying a French chateau often feels like buying a piece of French heritage; imagine these castles were occupied by the nobility, by kings and queens – and by their mistresses. It's a privilege to own part of the local landscape and to be the person responsible for its upkeep.
When you first begin looking at buying a French chateau, the options can seem overwhelming. France is a large country with a long history, which means there are many properties to choose from. The good news is that prices can be affordable, if you know where to look and how to make the most of your budget.
To help you get started, here are our five top tips for buying a French chateau:
- Consider the age: There is huge variation in the age of French chateaux, with some regions having many more ancient properties than others, where construction has largely been relatively recent and is often more elaborate. Each has its own character, and some will have been changed significantly over the years by previous owners. Consider what's important to you: somewhere you can move straight into, buying a chateau to renovate, or perhaps something in between. Do you want the simpler, older character or the lavish touches of more recent tastes?
- Think about the land: Many chateaux, particularly in the Loire Valley, will be part of domaines, having extensive land laid out as vineyards and used for wine production, which is then bottled and sold on. Whether you want to produce your own wine, or lease out the land to a local farmer, it can be extremely valuable. Even if the grounds are not rich with vines, owning land can give you the option of installing a swimming pool, enjoying fishing on any rivers running through, or simply sitting back and watching the local wildlife. However, bear in mind the upkeep that comes with owning extensive land and be realistic about the amount of time you want to spend working on it.
- Choose the right area: From walking to the nearest ‘boulangerie’ to accessing an airport within an hour, everyone has different priorities when it comes to their ideal home in France. Luckily, there are so many chateaux across the country that you will be able to find exactly what you need. Research flights, ferries and other transport options as well as local villages, towns and cities in the area before you make your choice. Many chateaux were built within easy reach of Paris so their owners could travel to and from the capital – something which is equally attractive today. If you're considering using the property for holiday lets or chambres d'hotes, time spent finding the right location will benefit you in the long run as it will prove more attractive to guests.
- Look for potential: Many chateaux have numerous bedrooms, outbuildings and guest suites which could be used to generate income for the new owner. From chambres d'hotes to holiday rentals, if you want to welcome paying guests to your chateau, make sure you consider the practical side during your search. You might want to keep your visitors in one area of the property, away from your own space – and you need to think about access and parking, too. Speak to a knowledgeable agent about the income you could potentially generate before making your decision.
- Use the right agent: unless you’re fluent in French, it’s a very good idea to find a bilingual estate agent, or someone who is used to dealing with real estate in France. Most French estate agents will have someone who speaks some English, but it may not be enough to get you through the complexities of buying a castle property, it's a specialist's job, trust us.
If our tips have inspired you to find your perfect piece of history, take a look at our listings – including our selection of French chateaux, domaines & estates and register to receive alerts of new castles coming to the market.