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A chateau for just €100? French mairie buys fairytale ruin

The mayor in central France has said that renovating it will be long but, if successful, it would be ‘the most beautiful thing that I will do during my term’

The beautiful chateau of Villedieu-sur-Indre, that now faces years of renovation work Pic: Xavier Elbaz

A mairie in central France has bought a fairytale-style 11th century castle for just €100 in a bid to save it from complete ruin.

The price was so low because the property is nearly in total ruin. The turrets are still visible, but the roof is completely destroyed, and the entire main building has been almost taken over by vegetation.

Xavier Elbaz, the mayor of Villedieu-sur-Indre (Indre, Centre-Val de Loire), told Le Figaro property section: “It’s not worth more than we’ve paid for it.”

The chateau previously belonged to the property development group Opus Development Corporation, who bought it in 1999 for €2,390. It was already a ruin at the time.

Mr Elbaz explained: “This property has been abandoned since the day after World War Two began. The promoters had plans; they wanted to transform it into a prestigious hotel.

“But the 2008 crisis meant the company collapsed, and since then, no renovation project has happened.”

The mayor said that the chateau would likely have collapsed completely if the mairie had not stepped in to try and save it. 

The plan is to “redo its façade, redo its turrets, and get rid of the vegetation, which will take at least 10 years. If I manage to do this, it will be the most beautiful thing that I’ve done during my mandate.”

It is not yet clear what will happen to the chateau after it has been renovated but the mayor is not too worried about its future so far.

“I’m up against a wall at the moment. I can’t see around it. That’s millions of kilometres from the current situation. If I predicted too much, people would rightly think I was crazy,” he said.

Mr Elbaz is now set to spend 2023 working out how to start the project, and to figure out how much it will cost.

The Canadian development company, which was reformed in 2013, still owns the chateau’s grounds, including its 40 hectares of fields and woodland.

The company originally purchased the land for €724,000, then paid €688,000 for surrounding woodland, then another €295,00 for even more land near the chateau.

Including the price of the property, this meant that the former owners had paid around €2,000,000 for the chateau and surrounding land. They were asking for at least €1,000,000 or more for the purchase of the building plus the land.

But the mayor declined this offer, saying it was too much for the town. Instead, he has decided to focus on the chateau alone for the time being.

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