How France’s Covid crisis has left palatial piles for the price of a British family home 

Mowing the lawn might take you a fortnight — but don’t let that put you off.

The phenomenal success of the Channel 4 series Escape To The Chateau, in which couple Angel Adoree and Dick Strawbridge take on a huge, 45-room DIY project in North-West France, has been a source of inspiration for millions of Brits.

And, suddenly, it is becoming easier for us to follow suit.

The lockdown in France has forced many aristocrats and other families to put their chateaux on the market, often for knockdown prices.

French estate agents reportedly have more than 1,500 of them on their books — more than double the number ten years ago.

Some prices have dropped by an enormous 40 per cent.

Here, we bring you the most eye-catching bargains on the market.

This chateau in Decazeville, southern France, with 14 bedrooms and five bathrooms is now £590k, down from £809k last year

2019: £809k (€890k)

Now: £590k (€650k)

Price drop : 27 per cent

With 14 bedrooms and five bathrooms, this chateau — which dates to the 13th century — is typical of many of the bargain piles coming on the market.

It’s in a relatively unfashionable spot in the Lot valley in southern France.

However, it is surrounded by national parks and it comes with four acres of land and its own vaulted chapel, as well as a swimming pool.

It’s not particularly well- connected — the nearest city, Toulouse, is a couple of hours away by car — but the charming village of Decazeville with shops, restaurants and cafes is only a short walk away.

Great views over the rolling countryside — and a price that has dropped dramatically.

Prestige Property: 01935 817188, prestigeproperty.co.uk

This glorious spot near Chateauroux, Indre, in central France is now £677k (down from £900k last year) after a price drop of 25 per cent

This glorious spot near Chateauroux, Indre, in central France is now £677k (down from £900k last year) after a price drop of 25 per cent

2019: £900k (€990k)

Now: £677k (€744k)

Price drop: 25 per cent

This glorious spot near Chateauroux, Indre, in central France is sparsely populated and not especially well-connected — which means your money goes further.

But if it’s rural tranquillity you are after, this would be absolutely perfect. This intriguing, turreted property combines three styles of architecture — medieval, Renaissance and 19th-century — and gets away with it.

The house comes with nearly seven acres of land, 18 bedrooms and its own gite (traditional cottage).

Sifex: 020 7384 1200, sifex.co.uk

Just a short hop across the Channel by car ferry, this superb chateau in Condésur-Noireau, Normandy, is now £716k, down from £847k in March this year

Just a short hop across the Channel by car ferry, this superb chateau in Condésur-Noireau, Normandy, is now £716k, down from £847k in March this year

March 2020: £847k (€931k)

Now: £716k (€787.5k)

Price drop: 15 per cent

You won’t find lavender fields, olive groves and vineyards here in the North of France — but house prices are reasonable and the food, especially the cheese, is compelling.

And it’s just a short hop across the Channel by car ferry.

This superb chateau in Condésur-Noireau, Normandy, has a commanding position in lush fields in the heart of Calvados country, and comes with nine bedrooms and 30 acres of land.

There’s no pool, but in the summer you can make the most of the oldfashioned Normandy seaside resorts such as Arromanches. A great spot for World War II historians.

My French House: 0845 123 5885, my-french-house.com

In a quiet but usefully located bolthole in Gers in the Occitanie region, this chateau is now £635k, down from £809k in April this year

In a quiet but usefully located bolthole in Gers in the Occitanie region, this chateau is now £635k, down from £809k in April this year

April 2020: £809k (€890k)

Now: £635k (€699k)

Price drop : 21 per cent

This 19th-century house might need a lick of paint — but there’s a lovely trellised pool, seven bedrooms and an outhouse.

It’s a quiet but usefully located bolthole in Gers in the Occitanie region with access to vast tracts of South-West France. And in this sparsely populated region of the country, the prices are really very reasonable.

Toulouse is about an hour away by car, the pilgrims’ town of Lourdes even nearer and the ski resorts of the Pyrenees are easily reached for a weekend break.

The cathedral town of Condom (no tittering at the back of the class) is also nearby.

Sifex: 020 7384 1200, sifex.co.uk 

This chateau is in a brilliant location near Béziers, Occitanie, in the South of France, with beaches just 12 miles away and is now £723k, down from £955k last year

This chateau is in a brilliant location near Béziers, Occitanie, in the South of France, with beaches just 12 miles away and is now £723k, down from £955k last year

2019: £955k (€1.05m)

Now: £723k (€795k)

Price drop : 24 per cent

A brilliant location near Béziers, Occitanie, in the South of France, with beaches just 12 miles away and Montpellier, Narbonne and the Canal du Midi all within easy reach.

This 19th-century house is a stunner, with five bedrooms and formal gardens (but not so formal that you feel like you have to dress up like Louis XIV to prune the bushes). The house has a relaxed feel that makes it seem like a genuine family home. It has a terrific games room with a parquet floor and a marble-floored living room.

It was all recently refurbished, and it’s a great bargain if you happen to have three-quarters of a million pounds to spare — the price of a small central London flat.

Sifex: 020 7384 1200, sifex.co.uk  

This 15th-century chateau is in Aubusson, Limousin, an obscure region of central France known for its peace and quiet and is now £1.39m, down from £1.8m in February this year

This 15th-century chateau is in Aubusson, Limousin, an obscure region of central France known for its peace and quiet and is now £1.39m, down from £1.8m in February this year

Feb 2020: £1.8m (€1.98m)

Now: £1.39m (€1.53m)

Price drop: 23 per cent

This 15th-century chateau is in Aubusson, Limousin, an obscure region of central France known for its peace and quiet. There are no neighbours but the town of Aubusson is about 20 minutes’ away. There is a heated pool, games room and wine cellar — or lose yourself in the 200 acres of woodland that come with the chateau: you’ll never meet a soul. 

Leggett: 08700 11 51 51, leggett.fr

Located about 100 miles west of Paris near Le Mans in the Sarthe region, this manageable home with views over its own lake is now £764k, down from £1.14m in March this year

Located about 100 miles west of Paris near Le Mans in the Sarthe region, this manageable home with views over its own lake is now £764k, down from £1.14m in March this year 

March 2020: £1.14m (€1.25m)

Now: £764k (€840k)

Price drop: 33 per cent

A small ER, more manageable home with beautiful views over its own lake, conveniently located about 100 miles west of Paris near Le Mans in the Sarthe region.

If you’ve been yearning for a place in the sun for years, it’s the perfect starter-chateau. It sits in almost ten acres of land and has six bedrooms, a tennis court, billiard room, and a charming little pool house.

Sifex: 020 7384 1200, sifex.co.uk

In a truly remote rural setting in Marignac, Haute-Garonne, this striking chateau is now £668,000, down from £955,000 in January this year

In a truly remote rural setting in Marignac, Haute-Garonne, this striking chateau is now £668,000, down from £955,000 in January this year

Jan 2020: £955,000 (€1.05m)

Now: £668,000 (€735k)

Price drop: 30 per cent

In a truly remote rural setting in Marignac, Haute-Garonne, this striking chateau has 13 bedrooms and sits in almost two acres of land. It needs a lot of work but if you’re willing to take the plunge, you could live there while the contractors toiled. This will one day prove a spectacular retreat for an outdoors-loving family: a golf course and the ski resorts of the Pyrenees are within easy reach. The Spanish border is 20 minutes’ away and Toulouse airport 90 minutes.

Leggett: 08700 11 51 51; leggett.fr  

It needs a new roof, rewiring and refurbishment but the property in Bouresse, western France, comes with 13 acres of land, stables, outbuildings and six bedrooms and is £325,000

It needs a new roof, rewiring and refurbishment but the property in Bouresse, western France, comes with 13 acres of land, stables, outbuildings and six bedrooms and is £325,000

£325,000

On the market only last week, this might be your dream project — or your nightmare. It’s a wreck, needing a new roof, rewiring and refurbishment — but the property in Bouresse, western France, comes with 13 acres of land, stables, outbuildings and six bedrooms. Only a short walk from a village — which has an excellent DIY shop.

Leggett: 08700 11 51 51, leggett.fr

  • Taxes and legal fees usually amount to an extra seven per cent of sale price.

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