A radical life-choice and a patrimony restoration project

For 15 years we were happy on the east side of Paris. My husband, Paul, with his international career for Disney, and I myself was happy as a full-time mother of our four children. Life was good, stable, and every project in the house was done. But when our children became teenagers, Paul had seen too many airports, and I myself needed new challenges.

More and more, we discussed what new adventures we could experience. For both of us it was clear: we wanted a change in life. On our wish list was: living in a sunnier area, closer to the sea, old building with character and a terrain with endless possibilities, close to a big city and a train station nearby. It seemed like searching for a needle in the haystack. In the spring of 2019 we made a road trip that started in Biarritz. In advance we made all kinds of arrangements with real estate agents to visit houses and terrains. But what seemed so beautiful on paper turned out to be disappointing in reality. Until we happened to come across Château de la Preuille in the Vendée online and we promptly made another appointment for the last afternoon of our road trip.

Every visit we did along the way we said to each other: "but it's not a castle."

And then it was Friday afternoon... time for our visit to the château... and how happy we were about it. It was an enchanting place with infinite possibilities. Not an historical monument, which would give us a lot of freedom. An hour from the beach, 25 minutes from Nantes, close to the train station of Clisson and close to Puy du Fou, in the same theme as the castle...a dream come true!

We sold our house, Paul quit his job and in November 2019 we moved into the castle with our four children. The whole winter we worked very hard to open as gîtes and chambres d'hôtes in the spring of 2020. Of course Covid-19 came unexpectedly but this gave us a little more time to make it an even more beautiful place. Our latest plans are to try to make the castle garden more open to the local and regional community while the restoration continues in its former glory.

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Sandra en Paul

Château de la Preuille is an old feudal residence that counts as one of the oldest castles in the Loire region. It dates back to the 11th century and was given its present form in the 13th and 15th centuries. The wide moat that defends the northern side of the walls and towers marks its origins as a fortress and gives it a noble stamp. A historical event also took place in the castle. In 1832, Marie-Caroline of Bourbon, Duchess of Berry, visited Château de la Preuille to carry out her coup against King Louis Philip in order to crown her son Henry, the last rightful Bourbon. The coup failed and Marie-Caroline of Bourbon was arrested. We have dedicated a room to the duchesse du Berry.

On 8 August 2020, a show with horses, violin and harp will be held on the grounds of the castle. There will be a food truck, but guests will also be able to enjoy their own picnic while watching the spectacle "Melodies Equestres". This show will be organised together with La Grange d'Asson and will hopefully be an annual event. Tickets available here.

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In addition, we feel a great responsibility to do everything possible to preserve the history of the castle.

The old saying you miss every shot you don't take is something we live by. We want to be that example to our children as well. That's why we started a new and ambitious project to restore the old wall around the castle moat. Part of it has collapsed over the years, while another part needs to be renovated quickly. We can do a lot ourselves, but this project is too big. Of course the wall will have to be restored with old stones and the original building techniques which makes it very expensive. For this project we are working together with Dartagnans, the first French crowdfunding platform that enables citizens to preserve a cultural heritage through contributions.

The crowdfunding project of Château de la Preuille started on July 13th and lasts only 30 days as part of Dartagnans "Chateau Challenge".

Every donation, from small to large, will be rewarded by us.

  • From cheese and wine nights, pony rides through the gardens and vineyards, a free stay at the Chambre d'Hôtes, to having the 8 hectares of land to yourself in one day.
  • And for every donation of 20 euros or more, we will put your name on one of the stones in the wall. You will forever be part of the future of a millennial history.
  • Each level of donation represents the number of stones you can sponsor in this restoration. Each metre of wall has about 500 old stones, and we have a total of 150 metres of the original wall to restore it to its former glory.

Because we cannot do this alone, we ask for help from friends and family, local communities, the Vendée region and their national and international network. Since we are just "new", our own social network is still very small.

The sharing of this message is deeply appreciated.

If you want to read more about this project, want to know more about the rewards it offers or want to make a donation, visit our project site at Dartagnans from 15th July - 15th August.

The restoration will be a multi-year plan, because it is a huge project.  We are working together with a local company that has the proven knowledge to apply the old construction techniques. If this crowdfunding project succeeds, a part of the moat will be made dry in order to restore the number of meters collected through this action. And if we find old stones at the bottom of the moat during the reclamation, we will certainly use them.

It's an honor to live here in this spot. It's very hard work, and yes there are some things we underestimated. But every morning I wake up intensely happy: another day full of adventures and challenges!

When you are in the Vendée, do stop by, I'll make sure the coffee or tea is ready!
Respectfully submitted,
Sandra

Château de la Preuille
85600 Saint-Hilaire-de-Loulay
Tel : (0033) 06 32 84 05 22
email: info@chateau-de-la-preuille.fr
website: www.chateau-de-la-preuille.fr
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