Château de la Basmaignée is located in the Mayenne area, North West of France, close to the historic village of Montenay. With its rich history of royalty and nobility, France is home to countless châteaux, and the Pays de la Loire region holds many of them.
The château sits in over 60 acres of parkland, which contains a private chapel, a traditional walled garden, six cottages, and 25 acres of forest with a secluded lake. Facilities include tennis court, woodland walks, local wildlife spotting, and much more.
Originally built during the 18th century by the Dubois de la Basmaignée family who had been living on the land since the 16th century, and to whom it belonged up to the French Revolution, when it was then taken over by the State, the château has since known a succession of different owners, purposes, phases of renovation and transformation, families, and, sadly, it has also been through some periods of neglect. Home to a General of Napoleon’s entourage and its descent throughout the 19th century, it was then completely taken down and rebuilt, between the 1890’s and 1921, date of completion of the current building, which makes it one of the youngest châteaux of France. Kindly lent to the Church during WWII, the château was run as a hospital for injured, sick or unbalanced women, and then as a religious retreat home for young people for a few years, before returning to the family whose Summer house it was for the last 80 years of the 20th century.
We are Gwendoline and Billy, a French/English couple, and we bought the château at the very end of 2016. Ever since that, we have been working hard, with the help of our family, to restore the château to its former glory. Although some outbuildings had been renovated by previous owners, the château had not been properly lived in or heated for at least 20 years, if not more. Our first priority was to make the building safe and comfortable to live in, by repairing major leaks on the roof, finding an efficient way to heat the château in the Winter, installing a kitchen, a 21st century bathroom, up-to-date electrics and a couple of decent bedrooms.
We live in the château with Billy’s brother Michael who started this adventure with us, their sister Sadie and her daughter Olivia who came to join us a few months later, and the latest addition of the family, our son Ernest. Billy’s parents Sherrie and Mick live on site too, and all together we have eleven cats and dogs!
When it comes to renovating the château and taking care of the huge property, all of the family pitches in, we are proud of doing as much as we can by ourselves, which of course means it takes longer than it would if we were to hire companies to do it all, but which makes it much more exciting!
Gwendoline and Billy are running the holiday rental and wedding venue business, with Billy working on the maintenance and the hands-on jobs, and Gwendoline focusing on admin, wedding planning and customer relations.
In the Spring of 2020, Billy’s brother Michael started his own YouTube channel, called Doing It Ourselves. Every Friday, Michael shares some parts of our life here at Basmaignée, whether it’s about the renovations, events happening here, or just our day-to-day life.
Michael has a great artistic sense, he can do anything from painting aquarelles to making curtains, through playing the piano, making the best lasagna and renovating a broken stained-glass window. He’s also a great entertainer, so if you haven’t done it yet, don’t forget to take a look at his channel!