A little while back some of you may recall that I wrote about a lady from Australia who had fallen in love with a chateau in France that she saw on the internet.
Karina and her husband Craig Water travelled from their home in Perth to France, picked up a hire car and drove into the mountains of the Midi-Pyrenees to look at the chateau to see if it really was as beautiful in real life as it was in the photos.
I spoke to Karina about it and she told me she would never forget that first moment when the chateau came into view. It was one of those life changing moments and there was no going back.
It was a beautiful old building with a fabulous pedigree, designed by one of France’s premier architects – Ange-Jacques Gabriel. He was the principal assistant to his father as Premier Architecte at Versailles from 1735 and succeeded him in the position in 1742, essentially making him the premier architect of France, a role he retained for most of the reign of Louis XV.
His legacy in Paris is legendary:
Petit Trianon, at Versailles, 1762 to 1768
L’École Militaire on the Champ de Mars, Paris
L’Opéra at the Château de Versailles, 1769–70
Place de la Concorde (as Place Louis XV), 1772
Hôtel de la Marine, Place de la Concorde, 1775
Hôtel de Crillon, Place de la Concorde
And… the gorgeous Chateau de Gudanes
However, unlike his Paris creations, this chateau had over time gone to seed somewhat. Abandoned, unloved and uncared for – Karina recalls seeing trees growing out of the roof, the rooms were in a desperate state. Some of the rooms had not been entered for more than a hundred years. In fact Karina didn’t even know how many rooms there were until a year long operation to clean up was completed recently – 94 rooms! It was a huge job to take on, the most enormous labour of love would be required. Stamina and determination would be needed – luckily Karina has this in bucket loads and besides, she’d fallen head over heels in love with the chateau.
For some time Karina laboured away wondering if she was the only person who cared about saving this magnificent chateau, she doesn’t have an enormous budget but she is pragmatic and completely resolved to get the job done. When I came across her Facebook page where she posted some photos, I was mesmerised by the beautiful building and the story of this lady who was renovating it.
I interviewed her and wrote a story – that was two months ago. At that time she had just 136 followers on her Facebook page and often felt completely alone on her journey.
That story has gone viral. It has been picked up by bloggers and newspapers and TV stations around the world. Karina’s Chateau de Gudanes Faceboook page has gone up to more 32,000 followers and is still climbing. She is getting calls and emails from all over the world to tell her story and I’m so pleased to have been able to help her on her way because what she’s doing is just awesome.
Read the whole story here: French Chateau Rescued from Ruin