Owner will gift historic French castle for free…there is a catch

The current owners cannot afford the urgent repairs needed to make the site safe 

The first fortifications were laid over 1,000 years ago
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A magnificent French castle now in ruins could be yours for free… although there is a catch. 

The current owner of the Château de Lagarde in Ariège in the south of France is offering the site to anybody who is willing to take it off his hands as the cost of repairing the ruins – and the fundraising associated with it – has become too difficult for him to manage. 

It would take “millions of euros” to fully repair the structure – around twice as much as for the Notre-Dame Cathedral in Paris, said owner Francis Tisseyre to La Dépêche.

In addition, events at the castle have been cancelled, after safety authorities deemed much of the structure to be unsafe.

Mr Tisseyre was given the castle in 2012 shortly before its previous owner died.

He and his family received it on the condition that they return the site to its former glory. 

The first foundations of the castle were built in the 10th century to give a vantage point over the nearby valley. 

Various additions were made all the way to the 1600s, expanding the size and grandeur of the castle, allowing baroque architecture to mix with its original austere fortifications

At one point it was dubbed the ‘Versailles of the Pyrénées’ due to its splendid interior and gardens. 

However, the onset of the French Revolution and the disruption this brought led to a series of looting after which many of the stones used to build the castle were hewn out of the structure and sold. 

Two centuries of neglect followed until the building was listed as a monument historique by the culture ministry in 1914. 

This alone did not help the building however which sits in – still impressive – ruins to this day.

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Fundraising events limited by safety concerns

Mr Tisseyre started a plan to rebuild the castle using income from visitors and a number of fundraising events arranged through a non-profit organisation called the Per lé Castel.

The guided tours and events held by the association and its five volunteers have provided funds to not only keep the castle in its current state, but also to carry out modest repairs and build a bar and welcome area for incoming guests.

However earlier this year authorities deemed it unsafe for visitors to access upper areas of the castle. These safety concerns mean the grounds are now off-limits to visitors.

Urgent work must be carried out to this part of the building before a similar number of tours and events can resume.

It means the organisation, which used to host around 20 events per year, can now only host two or three, greatly impacting its fundraising ability. 

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‘Nobody wants the castle’

The castle is not for sale but is available free of charge although Mr Tisseyre believes no one will be willing to take it on. 

“Neither the community of communes (communauté de communes) nor the département [will take the castle] due to lack of resources to carry out the work to make it accessible.” 

Government authorities are trying to work out what can be done to save the monument.