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CHÂUTEAU DE GUDANES – A FRENCH LOVE AFFAIR

CHÂUTEAU DE GUDANES – A FRENCH LOVE AFFAIR

by Rhonda Montague (All photos courtesy of: Château de Gudanes.)

Constructed in the mid 1700’s, Château de Gudanes commands attention snuggled up against the soft green hills near the small village of Château-Verdun in the south of France. Few of us can imagine seriously shopping online for an enormous French château needing extensive and expensive renovations, yet, that’s how exactly how Craig and Karina Waters found their magical fairytale love. After just one visit to this faded countryside beauty, the Australian family was passionately convinced this forlorn and forgotten, but once magnificent residence, deserved a new life.

The Château consists of 43,000 square feet laid out into 94+ rooms. When the Waters family toured the home, only three rooms were accessible. Due to many years of neglect, the roof had collapsed and major water damage had made nearly the entire 5 floor structure unviewable. Walls had disintegrated, floors were reduced to rubble, trees were growing inside, and there were piles of dirt, rotted wood, rust, and mold everywhere. It was a dangerous place to tread. Still, amid the ruins, Karina and Craig saw convincing glimpses of the chateau’s former glory. Centuries old stained glass, painted frescoes, gilt-framed mirrors, detailed ornamental plaster, and artisan-carved woodwork remained to testify to the palatial splendor the Château de Gudanes once was.
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Courtesy: Château de Gudanes. 

 
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Courtesy: Château de Gudanes. 

 
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Courtesy: Château de Gudanes. 

 
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Courtesy: Château de Gudanes. 

 
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Courtesy: Château de Gudanes. 

 
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Courtesy: Château de Gudanes. 

 
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Courtesy: Château de Gudanes. 

 
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Courtesy: Château de Gudanes. 

 
The renovation and rebirth of the Château de Gudanes is a continuing work in progress. In the words of her new caretakers,
 

“Our plans for the future keep changing and evolving, and they are only in their infancy, but we hope to welcome you as soon as possible. Ideally, to begin, a cafe and tours, even in its well worn state. By 2016 we would like to also offer you accommodation, a gift shop, and facilities for weddings, music festivals, local fêtes, workshops, conferences, seminars and courses.
Our aim is to tread lightly and gently – to preserve the atmosphere and authenticity of the Château and region as much as possible. She will be renovated but her rawness, wear and history will not be erased, but instead integrated. In keeping with this, we also plan to use energy efficient principles and sustainable refurbishment. This means up cycling and recycling as much as possible, including building materials, design features and decor.
The Château won’t be a pretentious museum piece, but rather, a place to visit, reconnect with the earth and people, and restore the senses, just like she herself has been restored. It won’t be about overcrowding the walls with paintings or overflowing the floors with furnishings, but will be relatively minimalistic – a place to simply rest, breathe and enjoy the calm.”

 
If you’d like to know more and follow the château’s latest renovation progress, visit here.
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
LeonaAUTHOR RHONDA MONTAGUE
Jewelry designer and vintage jewelry supply seller, Rhonda has had a passion for anything vintage since she bought her first Royal Albert teacup at 16 years old. She’s renovated two mid century homes – a two story, big farmhouse on two acres and tiny blue and white bungalow in the city. Currently, she’s looking for her next vintage home project!

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