Escape to the Chateau 2019: former civil servant swaps three-bedroom ex-council flat in London for 32-room French castle

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    Château de Rosières

    Set in 130 acres of predominantly forested land is the Chateau de Rosières.

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    Château de Rosières

    The chateau was owned by the same family from the late 1700s until the 1970s, and remained largely untouched in that time.

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    Château de Rosières

    It is in the Ardèche region of southeastern France.

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    Château de Rosières

    Marc and Amy fell in love with the property as soon as they were shown it .

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    Château de Rosières

    They bought it for £770,000 in 2016.

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    Château de Rosières

    The chateau dates back to the 14th century or before, with additions and fortifications added to withstand the religious wars between Protestants and Catholics in the 16th and 17th centuries.

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    Château de Rosières

    Now Amy and Marc are starring in the latest series of Escape to the Chateau as they begin renovating the building, which is partially derelict.

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    Château de Rosières

    They also need to undo the damage done by an unsympathetic Seventies renovation which removed many of the original features.

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    Château de Rosières

    The couple believe that this barn might originally have been another chateau in medieval times.

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    Château de Rosières

    The main chateau had only two functioning bathrooms when Amy and Marc moved in last year to oversee renovations, while most of the outbuildings and the top floor of the property were derelict.

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    Château de Rosières

    The couple plan to turn it into a working farm with vineyards, run by Marc.

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    Château de Rosières

    They also want to use it as a yoga and wellbeing retreat with a new yoga studio in one of the old out buildings (pictured here).

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    Château de Rosières

    In order to keep costs down where possible, Amy and Marc are doing as much of the unskilled labour as they can themselves and have learned plastering, bricklaying and other traditional building techniques.

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    Château de Rosières

    The 17th-century chapel.

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    Château de Rosières

    Rebuilding the roof of the tower.

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    Château de Rosières

    Taking the rubble away, aided by a peacock.

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    Château de Rosières

    The dining room before, with modern wall hiding the original fireplace.

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    Château de Rosières

    The old fireplace appears…

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    Château de Rosières

    Part way through demolition.

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    Château de Rosières

    The finished dining room…

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    Château de Rosières

    … with restored fireplace.

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    Château de Rosières

    The finished master bathroom.

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    Château de Lalande

    Former Londoner, Stephanie Jarvis, 43, owns the 20-bedroom Château with two former boyfriends but runs it on her own as a B&B.

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    Château de Lalande

    Her château adventure began 14 years ago, when Stephanie, then 29, wanted to upgrade her two-bedroom flat in Clerkenwell for a house where she could live with a few friends.

    Michael Potts

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    Château de Lalande

    Struggling with the pre-credit crunch house prices of London in 2005, she teamed up with her best friend (and ex-boyfriend) Nic, who also owned a two-bedroom flat in Stoke Newington.

    Michael Potts

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    Château de Lalande

    After a year of château-hunting, Stephanie and Nic found themselves lord and lady of the Château de Lalande, an hour from Limoges in south-central France.

    Michael Potts

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    Château de Lalande

    For the grand sum of £575,000, the pair’s two small London flats had bought them ownership of an historic 40-room, 16th-century castle in the heart of the French countryside.

    Michael Potts

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    Château de Lalande

    Having been seduced by the château’s picture-perfect exterior, the group found that the interior of the building needed a lot of work.

    Michael Potts

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    Château de Lalande

    After living on site for a year to be sure of what they needed to do and how they were likely to use the 40 rooms, the bulk of the renovation work took around six years.

    Michael Potts

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    Château de Lalande

    “I spent about two years making curtains because there are 100 windows,” says Stephanie.

    Michael Potts

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    Château de Lalande

    “The building is a lovely enfilade, which is a French room layout where each room leads into the next downstairs, so you get light from both sides because the building is only one room deep,” she says.

    Michael Potts

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    Château de Lalande

    The château did not have many original features inside, which gave a lot of freedom when decorating, but some of the furniture, including an impressive bedroom suite, was bought from the previous owners and dates from just after the French revolution.

    Michael Potts

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    Château de Lalande

    It originally belonged to the de Nadaillac family, who were exiled to England during the revolution, fought with the British against Napoleon, and returned to France and the château in 1814.

    Michael Potts

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    Château de Lalande

    It’s a project to renovate an apartment in the old granary as a living space for her mother that forms the basis for Stephanie’s appearance on the current series of Escape to the Château: DIY.

    Michael Potts

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    Château de Lalande

    Presenter Dick Strawbridge also arrives to help her restore a 19th century bread oven so she can host pizza evenings at the château…

    Michael Potts

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    Château de Lalande

    …while Dick’s wife, Angel Adoree, helps Stephanie source antique frames for her father’s paintings.

    Michael Potts

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    Château de Lalande

    “Buying a château isn’t about profit, it’s not like the London property market,” says Stephanie. “It’s about accepting that all your spare money will go into this château for the rest of your life.”

    Michael Potts

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    Château de Lalande

    Before: the Seventies tiled floor had to be replaced…

    Michael Potts

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    Château de Lalande

    …asbestos removed and the electrics and heating entirely replaced.

    Michael Potts

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    Château de Lalande

    Once this was complete, Stephanie was determined to do the more minor renovations and all the decoration herself.

    Michael Potts

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    Château de Bourneau

    English doctor Erin and her French fiance Jean-Baptiste bought 20-bedroom Château de Bourneau in the Loire Valley for €680,000.

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    Château de Bourneau

    They were originally looking at flats in London but when they saw what they could get for their money in France, they decided to buy a castle instead.

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    Château de Bourneau

    The couple traded in their flat in Edinburgh and bought the fairytale Château de Bourneau in the Vendée region in western France.

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    Château de Bourneau

    As well as the 20-bedroom castle, they also got 16 hectares of land and paid a supplement for four outbuildings, which used to be the estate’s bakery and stables.

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    Château de Bourneau

    “We’d always talked about doing something like this one day but we were planning our next stage in life and we thought ‘why does it have to be something we do when we’re retired?’ A daydream evolved into reality,” says Erin.

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    Château de Bourneau

    “For the price of a one-bedroom flat in London, we could buy our 20-bedroom house in France with land and outbuildings and the ability to run a business to make it work and pay for the renovations.”

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    Château de Bourneau

    The 1860s building had the “romantic, wow exterior” they were looking for but an update 30 years ago meant it was structurally sound with modern plumbing, electrics and heating.

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    Château de Bourneau

    Their story is featured on the latest series of Escape to the Château: DIY.

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    Château de Bourneau

    Series presenter Dick Strawbridge visit the couple to help fix their leaking moat, while Erin visits Dick’s wife Angel at Château de la Motte Husson to get tips on hosting a tea party.

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    Château de Bourneau

    Erin and JB will be able to put Dick and Angel’s hard-won advice to good use because they are doing most of the renovations themselves.

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    Château de Bourneau

    They estimate that the total cost of renovations could amount to a few hundred thousand pounds to get the property perfect but the couple say it’s a lifetime project.

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    Château de Bourneau

    “We plan to be here for 30 years, renovating little by little,” says Erin. “At the moment it’s perfect for its imperfections.”

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    Château de Bourneau

    Keen upcycler Erin repurposes furniture left in the attic of the château or heads to the local charity shop for antique furniture at bargain prices, which she refreshes with a lick of chalk paint.

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    Château de Bourneau

    The couple have their first wedding booked in for this year, a local French affair, with a grand British wedding to follow next year.

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    Château de Bourneau

    Future plans include an organic kitchen garden – JB grew up on an organic farm and the couple are passionate about eating seasonally, reducing air miles and waste.

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    Château de Bourneau

    They also have longer term plans to create a luxury bed and breakfast, while this year the couple are going to reinstate the local harvest festival tradition for the whole village to take part in.

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    Château de Bourneau

    “It can feel a bit strange being in a 20-bedroom château just the two of us and our cat Oscar, although we’ve made ourselves a little apartment in there where we spend most of our time,” says Erin.

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    Château de Bourneau

    They’re also lucky enough to have inherited portraits of the family who built the château, as well as the original 22-seat gothic dining table.

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    Château de Bourneau

    “I’m used to working long shifts as a doctor but there are definitely some ‘what have we done?’ moments…

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    Château de Bourneau

    … usually at three in the morning when there’s a leak in the roof or we’re unblocking a toilet,” says Erin.

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    Château de Bourneau

    “That said, even after a really long, tiring day it’s really nice to look around and see how far we’ve come.”

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    Chateau du Doux

    Also featured in this series is Chateau du Doux, home to Clive, Karen and Abbie Young.

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    Chateau du Doux

    Chateau du Doux is in Altillac, in the south of France.

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    Chateau du Doux

    They host weddings from May to October.

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    Chateau de la Ruche

    Chateau de la Ruche is home to Tim and Rebecca Jones.

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    Chateau de la Ruche

    Tim and Rebecca Jones with series presenter Dick Strawbridge.

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    Chateau de la Ruche

    A “before” shot of the entrance hall of Chateau de la Ruche.

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    Chateau de la Ruche

    An “after” shot of the entrance hall of Chateau de la Ruche

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    Chateau Callaic

    Chateau Callaic is home to Angela and Steve Hall.

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    Chateau Callaic

    Angela and Steve Hall.

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    Chateau Callaic

    The gold leaf bath at Chateau Callaic.

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    Chateau Callaic

    The kitchen at Chateau Callaic.

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    Chateau Callaic

    The spiral staircase at Chateau Callaic.



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