Australian couple Bought a decaying Neoclassical French Chateau and started blogging the restoration process …

Isn’t it the ideal fantasy to renovate a deteriorating neoclassical French chateau? – I get shivers just thinking about visiting a once-opulent, now-eerie palace where French aristocracy previously resided, where every nook has an interesting narrative.

So restoring a deteriorating, huge palace to its former magnificence makes the 94-room Chateau de Gudanes the Mount Everest of renovations. So, when Australian couple Karina and Craig Waters found the abandoned beauty palace in the Midi-Pyrénées for sale online in 2011, they decided to “climb the top,” i.e. to rehabilitate the 18th-century ruin.
Chateau de Gudanes
Karina Waters, a former corporate and tax accountant, lived in Perth, Western Australia, with her husband Craig, a surgeon, and their two children. They intended to buy a house in France in 2011, and they had almost given up when the couple’s 16-year-old son, Ben, discovered the neglected property on the internet.
The Australian couple travelled to Paris and drove 700 kilometers to see the enchanting home, and they knew right away that they had found their calling: “to bring this dying beauty to life.”

Chateau de Gudanes

“It was love at first sight,” she says. We could see the chateau as we entered the hamlet, and we both stared at each other, as if we were at the alter! We drove to the front of the property, and there it stood, looking so proud,” Karina recounts the moment she spotted the Chateau de Gudanes in the Ariège department’s town of Château-Verdun.

Chateau de Gudanes

The Chateau de Gudanes, located at the base of the Plateau de Beille, is owned by a foreign syndicate and has been on the market for four years. The previous owners purchased the chateau in the 1990s with the intention of converting the mansion into 17 elegant flats.
Fortunately, the French Historic Monuments organization opposed and halted this idea. So, from then on, the neoclassical home was abandoned to the mercy of nature and for new, more art-appreciating owners, who eventually arrived.

Chateau de Gudanes

Karina and Craig were not interested in profiting from this historic relic, but in restoring the beauty and splendor of the decaying home, and Chateau de Gudanes was in severe need of restoration.

Chateau de Gudanes

“I remember seeing small trees growing on the roof, most likely birds had dropped seeds that had become lodged in the 300-year-old slate! The French Government ended up replacing the roof to save it from complete devastation”. Karina told The Good Life France. “It wasn’t habitable, there was no power, plumbing, water” she adds.

But, as I mentioned earlier, Karina was certain in her resolve to “reach the peak of Mt. Everest,” and after signing the final contract to purchase the Chateau in March 2013, led by tremendous good will and, as she puts it, “denial,” her trip had begun. The process of restoring a ruin that dates back to 1741 is difficult from the start.
Chateau de Gudanes

“A gently unveiled secret. Every time I come here, I feel better. Walking along historic trails connecting communities across the highlands is truly breathtaking… choosing apples, pears, and blackberries, gathering walnuts, looking for the plumpest figs, bringing home a bag of mushrooms, breathing in the fresh air, forgetting I have a phone, and learning more about the history of my French home…” Karina stated.

Chateau de Gudanes

And it has a history, right? – Another castle has been here for generations. The first, Fantillon de Sales, the Catholic Lord of Gudanes, was destroyed during France’s religious conflicts in 1580. After 200 years, the castle was reconstructed in 1741 when Marquis Louis Gaspard de Sales, nicknamed “The King of the Pyrénées,” decided to make it his home. The castle was finished in 1750, and De Sales gave first-class parties there, lavishing money on prominent thinkers and artists like French playwright Voltaire. The château survived the French Revolution and was bought by a local family.
Chateau de Gudanes

Karina began climbing the “peak” despite knowing it would be difficult in every way, and the greatest part is that she has been blogging the entire experience since the beginning of the project. So, check out Karina’s voyage on the Chateau de Gudanes Facebook page for updates, the Instagram feed, and the blog.

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