Chateau Ribagnac
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We purchased Chateau Ribagnac in 2003, and our family is only the fourth to own it. It has been traditionally owned by master porcelainiers, who enjoyed being at the epicentre of their trade, and so kept the chateau beautiful for their families. However, it was last decorated in 1902 and the interior is Napoleon III, it having last been renovated at the turn of the eighteenth century. This means we have had to work hard to retain and renew as much as possible so that the Chateau’s character can shine through. We have endeavoured to keep the style classic and simple but with a twist of our own, which we hope you will enjoy.

We have searched far and wide to find the most appropriate furnishing for the Chateau whilst retaining as much of the original furniture as possible, and have enjoyed perfecting our vision of the most comfortable, lovely and stylish interiors.

Renovations' Timeline
Click to View Enlargements

December 2003 • Château purchased – extensive industrial cleaning

January 2004

• Estimates taken, we put a team of artisans together.

• Patrick & Family Team begin demolition work on the stairwell Friends visit to lend a hand.

• Brambles are destroyed, the drive is cleared.

• The ceiling of the tower room is knocked down

February 2004 • Plumbing work commences with specialist equipment to penetrate the metre-thick walls.

March 2004

• Electricians begin ripping out old wiring Builders put in
new walls for three new bathrooms.

• The kitchen garden is cleared and replanted

• Stained glass windows are removed for restoration – replaced by plexiglass

April 2004 • Patrick starts to put in the bathrooms and injures his arm – he is unable to work for three weeks.

• Electricians complete work

• Plasterers and builders complete work Patrick’s father builds the chestnut floor for the Hydrangea Suite bathroom.

May 2004

• The Family Team paint and decorate.

• Bathroom tiling completed

• New septic tank installed to service the extra bathrooms.

• Rear gardens relaid and planted after the bulldozer.

• Wooden floors are repaired, cleaned by hand, oiled and waxed.

• The finishing touches for the Hydrangea Suite

• First of restored windows and new oak frames replaced

• First guests stay.

• Remaining rooms are completed.

June 2004 • First full house of guests

September 2004 • Work on grounds in preparation for September wedding  

December 2004
- February 2005

• Extensive work on the grounds;  paths rediscovered and recut into the woods and all fallen trees cut up and split for firewood.

• Old fallen oak trees sent to the sawmill to be sawn into
planks for flooring and furniture for the Pavilion and farmhouse

May 2005 • Work commences on the Pavilion; walls removed, plumbing installed

• Work on tea room commences, plumbing installed

• The Château is full for the season.

October 2005 • Patrick recommences work on the girls’ room and the family living room  

November 2005 • Chimneys cleaned Fruit and other trees are planted, and pruning of the 100 fruit trees  

2006 - Onwards • Work on the Gîte and outbuildings.  

The renovations were extensive since all but one of the bathrooms has to be built from scratch or entirely replaced, as well as having to do other essential work and decorations. To conform to French regulations, we were assisted by an excellent team of plumbers (to remove all the lead pipes and drill through walls, some of which are over a metre thick) and electricians, to rewire and install emergency lighting. We also had the leaded windows restored by a group of highly skilled artisans, whose trade it is to restore churches, who numbered each pane to ensure every single lozenge is in its original place! In the meantime we had to suffer plexiglass windows!

The rest of the work was done by us, helped by family and friends to ensure that none of the chateau’s beautiful features are compromised. Anybody who sees the television series will be able to see just how much hard work was done (with thanks to all who helped).

There was work to be done in the grounds too, since 1999 saw a hurricane in France that was devastating to many areas, but the Chateau itself – even though it lost over 800 trees – survived relatively unscathed. We are being assisted by the French Agricultural Board to restore the arboretum to its former glory. The woods are glorious in the summer and we will be making walking paths so that they can be enjoyed. The chateau hosted a wedding this year, where the ceremony took place outside and there could not have been a more romantic setting, and it made us really proud of how beautiful the grounds looked.

Colette and the children also revived the kitchen garden, which until now has been under cultivated. We had an extremely successful first and second harvest, and were able to provide the chateau with fruit and vegetables for most of the season. We do not use chemicals in the production of our fruit or vegetables, and where possible, use organic seeds. Any gardening tips are gratefully received!

Over the following years or so we will be restoring the beautiful farmhouse, barns, stables, pigeonnier, bakery and cressonerie. Patrick is happy to show you around the work in progress, if you wish.

Renovations in the future

During 2006, we hope to begin work on two further suites for the chambres d'hôte. These will be situated in the large farmhouse, which is 100 metres from the chateau, so that they can have facilities for disabled people (since this is not possible in the main chateau building). We envisage these suites as enormously spacious, with exposed beams and stonework, combining modern facilities with the charm of a 200 year old farmhouse.


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