How much does it cost to be the king or queen of your own domain? In France, it’s a mere $55.
That small sum snags you a share of the crumbling Château de Vibrac castle. Preservation startup Dartagnans and a nonprofit restoration association named Adopte un château are leading an effort to make a crowdfunded purchase of this 12-acre estate, located in western France’s Cognac region.
So far, the campaign has received more than $400,000 of its initial $111,000 goal to buy the castle, which originally dates back to the ninth century. Some 4,000 donations have come in from 73 countries, with nine days still to go in the campaign.
The organizers tell CNN Travel that they’ll need to invest $1.37 million total to bring the castle, which has been abandoned for more than 100 years, up to par. The goals include restoring Vibrac to host community events and raising organic produce on the site’s “fertile soil,” according to the campaign site. What’s more, guests could also stay in eco-friendly cabins on the property.
Those who contribute will get lifetime access to the property, a garden plot and a say in its future.
The immediate need? Getting control of the vegetation that has swallowed the stone structure, where elements also date to the 14th and 15th centuries.
Vibrac stands on an archipelago of islands in the Charente river, and was once a fortress. A wealthy family named Mareuil owned the castle for about 150 years during the Renaissance before it was sold several times. Ever since, the property was the subject of sieges and, as the thick layer of green around it shows, sustained damage from the elements.
“What we would like to do is restore the castle with traditional methods and also with new methods, and try to make the castle of the 21st century,” Romain Delaume, Dartagnans’ founder, tells CNN.
This isn’t a pie-in-the-sky mission for the two groups. They also own two other castles in France: the 13th-century Mothe-Chandeniers and Ebaupinay, both acquired in 2018. The former has had about $665,000 invested in its restoration and has seen 15,000 visitors. The latter had a brief opening over the summer and appears to still be under restorative work.