A man’s home is his castle. Unless you’re French, then it’s most likely your château. This expression is not meant to be taken literally but if the opportunity arises to live like a king in a salubrious, secluded setting in the countryside, why not spoil yourself? For those with the means, the chance to live it up in a château and savour a taste of royalty is tantalisingly close.
France is home to thousands of chateaux, some of which are visited by millions of camera-wielding tourists each year. The gold-gilded Palace of Versailles near Paris and the mysterious Mont-Saint-Michel in Normandy have captivated visitors for centuries. However, those willing to shell out on a royal mortgage can own their very own castle, shielded from the public eye yet steeped in all the glory and history that chateaux have become famous for.
Here are just a few of the most spectacular French fortresses currently up for sale.
Occupying a piece of prime real estate along the Avenue du Roi Albert in Cannes and overlooking the French Riviera’s sparkling waters, the Château Soligny could not be more idyllically situated. Although it was built in 1872, the château has since been expanded, renovated and revamped in a more modern style, while still keeping its original character. The estate is accessed via a Japanese pathway surrounded by rare trees, streams and waterfalls, plus an infinity pool and pool house. The interior of the five-storey mansion is sleek and polished, featuring materials like ebony, marble and mother of pearl. Modern conveniences include a lift, six-car garage and home cinema, and of course it wouldn’t be a French castle without its own wine cellar.
Available via www.sothebysrealty.com (Property ID: Z22J9W)
When legendary Hollywood actress Grace Kelly visited Castle of la Croix des Gardes on the set of the 1950’s Hitchcock thriller To Catch a Thief, she was immediately taken by the château’s charm and beauty.
With a stunning view of the Côte d’Azur and Estérel Mountains, it’s little surprise that she fell under the castle’s spell. It’s not only the largest estate in the Cannes region, but also the “most outstanding,” according to Sotheby’s International Realty, which is selling the property for upwards of US$53 million (HK$411.9 million).
Constructed in 1919, the Florentine-style castle was sold in 1960 to the owner of Perrier, who had the interior redesigned in a neo-Palladian style. The opulent property features lush gardens, a Turkish lodge, a 33-metre infinity pool and 13 bedrooms.
Available via www.sothebysrealty.com (Property ID: WERMQP)
“For those with the means, the chance to live it up in a château and savour a taste of royalty is tantalisingly close”
The Château Gard was originally constructed in the 12th century, but inside you’ll find no chamber pots in the bedroom or cauldrons bubbling atop an open fire. That’s because the castle was renovated in the 18th century, at which time it was given a bright, beautiful staircase, ample natural lighting provided by large windows and polished woodwork that has been preserved to this day. It also comes with a surfeit of amenities, including an expansive English garden, swimming pool, tennis court, artist’s studio and 20 rooms. Built on Roman foundations in Uzès, southern France, the walled fortress was originally intended to protect the Duke and the land he ruled over. Nowadays, its most alluring feature is still the seclusion it offers – except without the feudal strife.
Available via www.sothebysrealty.com (Property ID: 9XY5ZZ)
Equipped with a moat and stone-gated entrance, this ultra-private 16th-century château will inspire you to live out all of your storybook fantasies. The castle was owned by a long line of French kings up until the 18th century, and was used by the crown’s financial managers and tax collectors. The home is situated in the verdant Loire Valley just a short drive from Tours. For those with an aversion to driving, the estate is also equipped with a helicopter landing pad. In addition to the moat, some of the château’s original features are still intact, including large fireplaces, vaulted ceilings and a pigeon tower. The expansive property – 10 hectares in total – includes fields, meadows, forest and gardens, not to mention a pool and deck that offer the perfect spot for soaking up some soleil.
Available via www.prestigeproperty.co.uk (Property ID: 187257)
For those who want to experience a taste of the country without straying too far from Paris, this is the château for you. Situated in Normandy, about an hour’s drive from the City of Light, this medieval castle overlooks a spacious courtyard and a park filled with yews and laurels, and offers sweeping views of the green valley beyond. The site underwent renovations at the beginning of the last century, but the interior has stayed true to the style of the period. The master suite comes furnished with a stunning French Empire-style fireplace in blue turquin marble, while other bedrooms – there are 18 in total – feature Louis XVI panelling, marble or stone fireplaces and modern, en-suite bathrooms.
Available via www.prestigeproperty.co.uk (Property ID: 179629)
Our second offering from Normandy is yet another 18-bedroom château from the UK-based Prestige Property. However, this one is comparatively more modern, having been built in 1867. While more than a century has passed since its construction, the maison was recently renovated and restored to pristine condition. While the property is registered as a historic monument, it does not cut corners when it comes to first-rate amenities. It boasts a cinema, fitness room and spa, plus a beautiful indoor swimming pool with an image of five horses adorning the pool floor. To top it all off, the château sits on a spacious 80 hectares of land, and has its own private lake.
Available via www.prestigeproperty.co.uk (Property ID: 178801)
Fit for a princess, this castle has attracted a great deal of attention for its uncanny similarities to Disney’s Cinderella Castle. And for the relatively reasonable sum of US$2.5 million, you could snap up this bargain and start living your very own fairy tale. Situated in a park near Vienne – about 90 minutes from Paris – this former luxury hotel has been transformed into a private residence with 10 en-suite double bedrooms, two dining rooms, two reception rooms, a bar, office and more. The owner of this 19th-century, Renaissance-style dwelling can enjoy produce picked fresh from the estate’s vegetable garden, and take in the stunning views overlooking the woodlands and rolling hills in the distance.
Available via www.johndwood.co.uk (Property ID: IFR007288)
Text: Emily Petsko