What To Know When Buying A French Chateau

french chateau aerial view
Owning a grand chateau in France seems like a fairytale, but the opportunity exists in many parts of the French countryside.

Buying a chateau in the French countryside sounds like something out of a fairytale, but in actuality, there is a bustling market for beautiful castle-like homes and grand estates in the storied country.

The French chateau holds an immense appeal to people across countries and cultures, especially those with no history of such architectural wonders. If the prospect of owning a historical chateau and being part of the rich French legacy at affordable prices makes your heart beat a little faster, this is just the right stop for you. But there are a few things to keep in mind before buying the castle of your dreams. Here are a few tips:

restored french chateau overlooking medieval villages

This beautifully restored chateau, with views of the river Le Var and medieval villages has 15 rooms including 7 bedrooms with bathroom/shower room, two living rooms with fireplaces, a library, a dining room and a new kitchen. (Groupe Mercure)

Make a budget

A chateau may not be as expensive as you might have thought, but they still come with a price tag attached. Deciding on your affordability factor is the key to all the other steps involved in your chateau shopping escapade.

Prices for chateau properties depend on many factors, including the size and location of your dream home. The cost escalates the moment repairs and renovation are involved—and don’t forget about general upkeep. When chateau shopping, keep in mind the cost of the upgrades needed. The cost of structural renovations is considerable as compared to the minor modernization and refurbishments. No matter your budget, don’t forget to add the budget for the repairs you are willing to undertake.

9th-century chateau cambrai france

This 9th-century chateau in the commune of Cambrai in Nord Pas de Calais, France, has been been converted over the centuries. The construction is elegant with harmonious lines and a soaring entrance. (Groupe Mercure)

Choose your location

From imposing stately palaces to cozy manor homes and extraordinary estates that personify grandeur and opulence, France has plenty of options when it comes to chateau properties. Having so many options presents its challenge—that of availability of plenty.

To begin with, you need to narrow down your choices based on a few key factors. Do you prefer your new home in a densely populated area or a secluded one? These issues become glaring when deciding whether you need to live full time in your new house or treat it as a holiday home for family and friends. The kind of castle you procure also depends heavily upon your financial ability.

North of France 18th century chateau

Located near the Belgium border in Valenciennes, this superb chateau dating from the 18th century features a moat, beautiful gardens and an adjoining 86 acres of forest area. (Groupe Mercure)

Cost of renovation and repairs

Regardless of what French chateau you buy, it will likely need a renovation of some type. Renovation projects, much like chateau properties themselves, come in a spectrum, ranging from minor repairs and enhancing the appeal through interior decor to structural overall.

It is important to remember that “ready- to move” in castles or turnkey properties are designed to provide you a comfortable stay. In this case, you may have to do minimal repairs or augment the visual appeal of your chateau. Both are achievable on a relatively low budget.

Structural overhauling, on the other hand, is a different ballgame. It not only requires a significant monetary investment but an equal amount of skill as well. Unlike minor repairs, structural issues have a deep impact on the quality of your life and need to be looked into immediately.

Unless you have enough finances to hire a professional or are a skilled craftsman yourself, you should sidestep this mammoth task.

18th century Chateau set on 74 acres in avallon

This beautiful chateau in the Burgundy region of France sits on approximately 74 acres of parkland, woods and land with a pond of approximately 37 acres. (Groupe Mercure)

Find a real estate expert

Once you have finalized your budget and the area for your chateau, it’s time to find a real estate expert to help guide you through the process. Groupe Mercure of Forbes Global Properties are experts in this area and can help you find the right chateau to meet your requirements and budget. Groupe Mercure also represents some of the most refined French properties on the market today.

Magnificent Restored Chateau Vitre France

Located near Vitre, this gothic-style chateau was built in 1860 and superbly restored in 2004 and 2016.

Don’t buy the first chateau you come across

While we understand that chateau shopping can be a lot of fun, we’d strongly caution you against buying the first one you lay your eyes on. The term “chateau” can also apply to such properties as manor houses and sophisticated modern houses. Take your time exploring the chateau homes that are within your budget and meet your requirements.

Buying a chateau involves a whole new set of parameters and considerations similar to purchasing a townhouse or an apartment. Surrendering to the allure of owning a chateau is easy. However, caring and maintaining a chateau is a commitment of a lifetime and it pays to know what to expect. Follow the tips mentioned above and get the chateau of your dreams.

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