How much would it cost you to Escape to the Chateau? Six stunning properties to follow the TV couple who swapped a two-bed Essex flat for a 45-room French fairytale
- Dick Strawbridge and his partner Angel swapped their Essex flat for an abandoned chateau
- They spent €390,000 - the equivalent of around £300,000 - on the property
- We pick six chateaux with price tags of up to £500,000
Would you swap a two-bedroom flat in Essex for a French chateau with 45 rooms and a walled garden?
That sounds like an unbelievable offer, but it's exactly what Dick Strawbridge and his partner Angel did - and their whole journey was filmed for the new Channel 4 programme Escape to the Chateau.
The first show saw Dick and Angel buy their fairytale property, with its 45 rooms and substantial grounds, for just €390,000.
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Dick Strawbridge and his partner Angel swapped their two bedroom flat in Essex for a €390,000 French chateau and are being followed in a Channel 4 programme
So how on earth did they do that?
The key lies in the fact that while they may be dramatic, French chateaux are also plentiful and tend to be remote, expensive to run and not in particularly high demand.
House hunters can get a lot of property for their money in many corners of France, including the midi Pyrenees and Ardeche, experts suggest, but they should beware of money pits.
Overseas finance specialist Simon Conn warns buyers to take into consideration the cost of maintaining a property - particularly for an abandoned chateau.
HOW TO DEFINE A CHATEAU
A chateau is a manor house, home to the lord of the manor or a country house of nobility. It can be built with or without fortifications. The plural is chateaux.
'Buying is one thing, but the upkeep can be another.
'Maintenance costs for such a building can be considerable,' he said.
So you need to not only be bold to take the plunge but also have pockets that are deep enough to cover running a very expensive house and keeping on top of repairs and maintenance.
For those brave enough to take the plunge, or just curious as to what they could get for the cost of a semi in the South East, here is our pick of six chateaux each with a price of less than £500,000.
1. Seven bedroom chateau in Upper Normandy for £333,424 (€424,000)
The 19th century chateau is in the north of France with great transport links to Britain via the A28 motorway
The large entrance hallway on the ground floor leads to a dining room and a living room with a fireplace
There are three bedrooms on the first floor, followed by a further four bedrooms on the second floor
2. Five bedroom chateau between Toulouse and Bordeaux costs £455,684 (€583,000)
The historic castle was once owned by Henri IV and is set in five acres of parkland in the countryside
The living areas require some updating and could be turned back into a modern family home
3. Eight bedroom 20th century chateau with eight bedrooms has a price tag of £374,676 (€477,000)
The spacious chateau is relatively new compared to many of its counterparts in France, having been built during the last century
The interior is spread over three floors and comes with an impressive 45,000 square metres of land outdoors
There are three large reception rooms on the ground floor of the chateau, each with a marble fireplace and parquet flooring
4. Five bedroom chateau east of La Rochelle costs £309,284 (€393,750)
An impressive rose-lined driveway leads directly to the front door of this characterful property
The property is being sold with a large swimming pool and some outbuildings - including a cottage that could be turned into a guest house
The main living area in the centre of the house has ceiling roses and a marble fireplace
5. Seven bedroom chateau north east of La Rcohelle cost £410,416 (€522,500)
The 19th century chateau has a balustrade terrace that provides far-reaching views across the valley
Outside of the grand property there are lawned areas as well as a main garden with stone walls
The impressive interior of the chateau includes wooden paneled doors and wooden beams on the ceilings
6. Twelve bedroom chateau in Normandy for £455,684 (€583,000)
The large property dates back to the 19th century and is set in five acres of private gardens
There is an impressive number of bedrooms at the chateau - 12 in total, along with 10 bathrooms