While we are talking about castles (see the previous post), how about one of EPIC proportions…
Everyone loves a good before and after project, don’t you think? But when it’s something as stunning as an 18th century château in the sunny South of France? Well that’s even more special! And, the Aussie owners are opening their restored home to guests (so we all get the chance to pretend we live here if we like!)
In 2013, Karina and Craig Waters from Perth took on the ultimate challenge: having only viewed four rooms (the rest of the home was inaccessible as most rooms had no floors or ceilings) and not speaking any French nor having any experience in renovations or restorations, the couple purchase the centuries-old estate.
Château de Gudanes, which is classified as a Level One Historical Monument (imagine the paperwork for making even the tiniest of changes!) is located in in Ariège, in the Occitanie region of Southern France. The incredible building was designed by Ange-Jacques Gabriel, who was the renowned architect of the famous Petit Trianon in Versailles and was built between 1741 and 1750. The ambitious Waters family have spent the last four years on the project and, whilst they are nearly set to open their home to guests, they admit that the restoration is going to be a lifelong project. In fact, the property had never even been fitted with electricity or gas heating prior to their ownership.
With their daughter studying in France, Craig was spending time online keeping tabs on what she was up to. Real estate ads kept popping up showing rustic farmhouses in picturesque villages and it wasn’t long before the pair started dreaming of another life. When they discovered the château, it was a case of love at first sight…even with trees growing inside and on the roof of the property!
The painstaking process started with having to move 500 tonnes of rubble from the inside of the home before builders could begin to make it structurally sound. Throughout the restoration they’ve discovered a myriad of treasures – from a tunnel leading deep underground to the village, through to human bones, ceramics and elaborate frescos.
Visit their website for more information about this incredible house, or check out youtube for some beautiful (and informative) behind the scenes info. This is truly a project worth watching – if for no other reason than to appreciate the beauty in the process, and admire the tenacity that some people have!