Blog to Watch: Chateau De Gudanes
Chateau De Gudanes
Karina and Craig Waters
What we love
A couple of years ago Perth couple Karina and Craig Waters decided they’d like to buy a home in France. Their challenge was finding the perfect property. After viewing plenty of places around France, the couple’s son one day saw a listing online for a falling-down Château situated in the Midi-Pyrénées.
Château de Gudanes, built in the mid eighteenth century, stopped Karina and Craig in their tracks – they were literally left speechless the first time they saw the 94 room building and surrounding valley. The Waters’ put in an offer a few days later and there began their adventure!
The Château renovations commenced in November 2013, and Karina has been sharing secrets uncovered all over the property, the gorgeous location, renovation plans and local village life with their blog and social media channels ever since. The incredible story of the Château renovation is one that has resonated not only with us but also with people all over the world, as can be seen by their incredible number of fans on Facebook and Instagram.
Karina and Craig say their “aim is to tread lightly and gently – to preserve the atmosphere and authenticity of the Château and region as much as possible”. With that in mind, future plans include commencing tours of the property and to open a café.
We chat to Karina about the family’s adventures:
Where have you been recently?
Since the restoration work at the Château began I usually spend over half the year in France. Commuting regularly back and forth to Australia is part of the process of trying to be in two places at once – balancing life in a rural French village in the Pyrénées and modern living in an apartment in Perth with my husband, two university children and our cat.
With flight options out of Perth on the rise, I usually fly into either Paris or Barcelona, and then grab a hire car and make my way to the Château.
Earlier this year I was asked to give a talk in Melbourne at a High Tea Event at the Park Hyatt so that was a nice change of scenery.
Where are you travelling next?
I’m spending three nights in Paris. It will be Château-business mixed with pleasure. The first day I have a meeting with the chief architect from the Historic Monuments (all in French, which will be interesting since my French is somewhat Franglais…!). The next day a chat with a young French mademoiselle who illustrates and sketches for Dior, Cartier and Guerlain. She wants to meet!
In contrast to this smart line up though, I stay affordable, simple and basic when in Paris. I habitually stay at Astotel Hotels – they’re newly renovated, clean, and under 100 euros per night with breakfast, mini bar and wifi. I always ask for room 605 at the Hôtel Palm Opéra – if I step out onto the tiny balcony I can see the Eiffel Tower in the distance. I like relaxed and friendly places to stay, where I can walk out onto the street in my not so glamorous sneakers and ‘I Love Paris’ Handbag and feel free to go anywhere.
I’m not going to lie, I wouldn’t knock back a room in the soon to be re-opened Ritz Paris if I could! But since we put an offer in on an almost-ruined 94 room Château, these sorts of dreams have become what I now laughingly refer to as BC (Before Château). Today I can’t help but wonder how many things that could help buy for the restoration!
What are your favourite hotels in Australia and around the world?
For a city stay in Australia, I would recommend the Park Hyatt in Sydney. Sitting between the iconic Sydney Opera House and Harbour Bridge, this hotel is also all about the view. Song Saa Island in Cambodia would still be our favourite international place to travel to. See favourite travel experience for more details!
What has been your best travel experience?
My husband and I are making up for lost time as neither of us travelled much between studying and our working years. So when our children were young we started to travel tout le temps. Any chance we had we jumped on a plane, train or cruise boat. From the North Pole to the South Pole, with African Safaris to the Iguazu Falls in-between. The children’s schools didn’t even ask where the children were by the time they both finished high school.
One of our favourite holiday experiences was right before we purchased the Château. We saw the destination in a travel magazine – Song Saa Island. It’s a private island off the coast of Cambodia, just recently opened. The trip was fantastical right from the start. Stepping out from a chauffeured car onto a private boat, setting off to a blissful island setting, An Australian couple transformed their remote island into a small luxury getaway. Each day we were ushered away to remote locations to enjoy our private breakfast, lunch and dinner. The Chef, who was enticed away from Brad and Angelina, prepared local cuisine. We sampled everything from homemade vodka shots, to marshmallows and caramel popcorn brought into our ‘in ocean’ villa for movie nights. Song Saa has definitely been one of our best holiday experiences.