Escape to the Chateau review: an inspiring fairytale about crumbling walls

(Barbara Deane) #61

Not much of TV is reality and that is possibly why we watch it…to escape the woes of
everyday life.

(Elaine Hayden) #62

Well if you know this as fact, I bow to your superior knowledge. With such a huge project to undertake any friends or family who are willing to help must be an absolute Godsend!

The programme is entertaining and fascinating, mainly because of the characters involved. Their sheer enthusiasm and imagination and the happiness they project at bringing their dream to life. I almost hope that reality won’t kick in for them just yet as we all know just how heavy and painful that can be? It will obviously come at some point but, for the moment ‘Escape to the Chateau’ is exactly that … a little piece of escapism.

(Barbara Deane) #63

Possibly for them and their viewers…a little piece of escapism.
And why not even adults can enjoy fairytales.
My relocation here may have been considered one.
But I do wonder if the shortstraws live in France or spend most of their time in UK.

(Ann Coe) #64

Hello Nichola

If you are anywhere near the Creuse there is a lady electrician here ! ( Haven’t so far needed one) …

Have used the services of our local lady sweep and she does a great job, everything spotless afterwards !

Girl Power :wink:

(nichola haxell) #65


Thanks for the reply. It’s a bit of a way from us as we are in Touraine sud. I hope that more girls get the chance to do apprentiships but around here we don’t see much change.

It seems very traditional here, all the hairdressers are female and all the building trades are male!



(Maureen McSheehy) #66

I was not thinking for one minute you should expect him to visit your area.

(Andrea Kirkby) #67

Our carpenter says his best apprentice has been a girl - if she gets something wrong, she’s cross enough to miss lunch in order to put it right… She doesn’t make many mistakes! (Just had an entertaining and informative morning watching him work and train his newest apprentice. I learned a few things in between times too.)

One untraditional area that women are really strongly represented in is sustainable building, particularly the use of chaux-chanvre, natural enduits and cob walling. It’s intriguing that this is the case in France as I never found that to be so in the UK.

(Vivien Chapman) #68

You might be interested in this link I am not sure where you are in France but in Brittany we also have access to Tiez Breizh, for advice on traditional buildings.

(Barbara Deane) #69

how did we move on to electricians…

(David Martin) #70

It followed on from the Strawbridges reliance on UK sourced workmen.

(Andrea Kirkby) #71

Thanks for the link Vivien. What a great inspiration!

We live in Eure-et-Loir where the local branch of Maisons Paysannes de France is very active - we’ve had some interesting days out in the Perche and Beauce looking at restorations including some still in process. I’ve now bought myself a house in Limousin and will be restoring it slowly. MPF isn’t as active in Correze but has managed to put me in touch with local professionals.

It will be a long job; today was spent partly getting the miroiterie to cut glass for broken panes, so I can replace them next week.

(Trevor Hunton) #72

Are the workmen all UK sourced?

(Barbara Deane) #73

Oh thank you David.

Wonder why he chose UK sourced workmen?
Was the project completed?
From what I could see of the chateau, the land and
other buildings this renervation and landscaping would
be a life time of devotion and work.
Not to mention an purse filled with a few million
pounds or euros.
But makes a poetic entry to the TV screen…will it return
and continue to fascinate?

(Vivien Chapman) #74

I have been restoring my house VERY slowly since I’ve had it 25 years.
However I still live in the UK which makes it harder, and I bought next
door, which had been part of it, and more land, to complicate matters. It
was built in 1533 (dendrochronology on samples of beams and steps) and
hadn’t been lived in for 150 years. I did courses on enduit de terre and
laying quarry tiles the ancient way with Tiez Breiz, and they ran a lime
plastering course at my house for professional masons, and plastered the
gables of my grenier. I need to move faster now so I can sell up in the UK
and live in France, so am looking for an architect. Are you using one?

(Andrea Kirkby) #75

Your house beats mine in the antiquity stakes; we have a date of 1629 on one of the doors. Haven’t done any dendrochronology of course.

Your work with Tiez Breiz sounds really fascinating. I’m hoping to book a couple of courses with an organisation called Rempart, which runs training on all types of traditional building techniques; that is, if MPF doesn’t have something going on locally (I think Haute-Vienne is more active than Correze, which isn’t terribly active).

We are working with an architect, who will also work as maitre d’oeuvre and charges a percentage of the total bill. I’m hoping we can get permission to convert the really impressive attic to residential space, and there are a couple of things I want to address - there’s an appentis on half the garden side of the house which means none of the rooms in the main house get any light, so we need to work on what we can do to open up the interior or otherwise get more light into the front of the house.

We saw the presentation of this year’s MPF prizes for restoration at the Salon du Patrimoine a couple of weeks back - for anyone who loves older properties it’s a real inspiration. I know Brittany is a big place, but you might be interested in the rebuilding of a ruined ‘penty’ near Lorient; the architect apparently was an old school friend of the owner, and from having the idea to actually building the house took fourteen years if I remember right. Things don’t happen fast in Brittany! It’s on the map along with all the other prizewinners,

(Vivien Chapman) #76

I got the dating from this company I had to
provide oak with 80-100 rings. I was replacing steps in the spiral
staircase and joists so it was easy to send slices. Otherwise you would
have to get a core drilling. When I did it it was no result - no fee.

I have been talking to an architecte de patrimoine, who proposes working
with me on a consulation basis but not until he has finished other projects
next year. He would negotiate with artisans for me if necessary. He said
the percentage thing was less appropriate because the project is midway,
not at the beginning. Could you put veluxes in the appentis, or give it a
glass roof to get more light into the garden side? Rather depends where the
light is coming from. I have a similar problem.

I had a look at the MPF link you sent me. Raising the roof like that was a
very neat idea for the penty. My house is more in style like the Manoir de
Locmaria, except it is in a village, and half of it was knocked down and
then rebuilt without any architectural splendour. I bought it (the later
bit) when it came on the market because I had blocked doorways to it and it
had taken a chunk out of my garden. I have lost the pointed roof on my
tower, but I do have a garde robe toilet!

Re planning permission - I have found if you go and talk to your planning
people and/or the town hall they are very helpful. In my village they are
more concerned with the houses being maintained and occupied than
authentic. (There are some horrid new windows, and plastic covered external

I wish you strength to your elbow


(Paul Flinders) #77

Apparently Mr Strawbridge is on the same ferry as the missus this morning. It’s a pity I couldn’t get time off work for this week’s trip over as I’d have loved - assuming he doesn’t mind talking to random strangers about La Motte Husson - to ask him a few questions about the project.

The verdict is that he comes across as a very nice guy.

(David Martin) #78

He I said a nice guy. Lots of people I know live in the same Cornish village, (The House on the Strand if you know your Daphne du Maurier), as he lived in.

(Paul Flinders) #79

It seems that he hasn’t got enough to do restoring his own property and making TV programmes about the experience. He’s now offering consultancy to other Brits who want to buy, or have bought châteaux in France (and making more TV of the result).

(Harry Fawcett) #80

im not much for reality tv but enjoyed watching snippets of this couple

alas my internet is lacking atm so hard to watch anything.