A part of a traditional French chateau could be yours for less than €60, as a start-up plans to finance the purchase and renovation of a 19th-century building in northern France.
The chateau is in Boulogne-la-Grasse in Oise, Hauts-de-France, and is just one hour away from Paris, and not much further from Lille.
Start-up Dartagnans is planning to finance the renovation of the building, which was created at the end of the 19th century by Belgian owner, count Charles de Boulogne.
It is launching a campaign to raise €500,000 to help with the purchase and renovation of the building. If the campaign reaches €250,000, the project will be adopted and the funding drive will be extended to continue to raise money for the work itself.
Members of the public can own their very own part in the chateau and renovation journey, and can purchase one to 500 parts of the project at €59 per unit.
In return, investors will become “co-owners” and have the right to free entry to the site for life, voting rights in the annual general meeting, and – perhaps most exciting – the possible eventual right to free nights on the premises, and even a preferential half-price tariff to rent out the entire place.
The investment is made on a SAS basis (société par actions simplifiées, or a joint-stock company) where each owner holds shares and is only financially responsible for the amount of his or her shares.
Dartagnans will continue to manage and run the site but will remain a minority owner with just 30% of the total shares.
So far, the campaign has raised €204,435 of its €250,000 goal, with five days to go. Already there have been 1,791 contributions from people across 37 countries.
The musketeers of heritage
The company, sometimes known as the “musketeers of heritage” due to its quirky name, has previously financed similar projects in Nouvelle-Aquitaine.
In Oise, the goal is to bring the chateau back to its former glory, and use it as a cultural site for events. There will also be bedrooms available.
The start-up even has plans to create an eco-lodge in the grounds, to enable people to “escape to the country” and also provide a site for the grounds management.
Beautiful or ugly?
The Boulogne chateau was built on the existing plan of a property that once belonged to the erstwhile Lancry family.
It is a mix of styles and includes statues of saints and gargoyles, as well as Roman features.
Romain Delaume, co-founder of Dartagnans, said: “It's a fairy-tale, fantasy place, off the scale. We don't know if it's very beautiful or very ugly, but it's definitely an unusual place."
The chateau also has some historical connections.
It was used by the French army during World War One, as its 36-metre tower offers a view of up to 40km away, and the town of Amiens. As part of its war involvement, the chateau would later receive visits from Maréchal Joffre, President Poincaré, and the King of Belgium Albert I.
It has a plaque to commemorate the visits.
The chateau even appeared in a flattering write-up in Le Figaro in 1908.
Despite the building having been heavily criticised elsewhere for its mix of styles, the journalist said that the village of Boulogne-la-Grasse (grasse means oil or fat in French) should be renamed Boulogne-la-Grâce (grâce can translate as grace or charm) in its honour.
It comes after chateau sales have been booming in France since the first lockdown in 2020, with many buildings in deeply rural parts of France selling to both French and international buyers, who intend to use them either as their main residence or as holiday homes.
Specialist estate agents say the boom was partly started by people’s urge to escape the city and “get some space around them”.