Architecture of France: Collège de Combrée

The Collège de Combrée is mostly empty and unused, but a local group wants to see it restored to its former glory

School’s out, so what next for abandoned Collège?

In this day and age, it can be difficult to save spectacular buildings dating from an era when size did not present the same problems it does today.

The Collège de Combrée, in the village of the same name in Maine-et-Loire, is a prime example. It is enormous – 16,000m² – and monastic in style, with a large neo-Gothic chapel and four courtyards, one of which has a cloister.

Eighty per cent of the building is largely abandoned and falling into disrepair.

The rest, the old farm building, is occupied by a youth retraining centre but that will be moving nearer to Angers in 2022.

Its cause has been taken up by a former British ambassador (to Nepal), Keith Bloomfield, who retired to France with his French wife Geneviè ...

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