French Castle, Destroyed in WWII, Auctioned Off for $1 million

 Château de Paluel in 2002. Michel Chanaud - CC-BY SA 3.0
Château de Paluel in 2002. Michel Chanaud - CC-BY SA 3.0

Chateau le Paluel, a 15th-century castle in the Dordogne region of France, is up for sale. The former home of the Aymerique family, and later the prince of Croy was attacked and burned by the Nazis in 1944 and has been abandoned for 75 years, although after the war it was owned by professor Jean Lassner until his death in 2007.

Paluel is also famous as the setting for the Le Tatoué (The Tattoo), the 1968 French movie with Louis de Funès. The film featured his famous line, “C’est une ruine! (It is a ruin!)”

The Chateau le Paluel is believed to be owned by a company based out of Monaco who has not done anything to restore the buildings. Local authorities are concerned that the abandoned building will soon be beyond repair. They took the drastic measure of seizing the eight-bedroom property and placing it up for sale in hopes the new owners will restore it to its former glory.

Four groups participated in the auction. In the end, two parties went back and forth in $1,000 increments. The bidding war went on for fifteen minutes before a winner was announced.

A local group called Adopte un Chateau (Adopt A Chateau) came up with a plan to crowdsource the purchase of the castle. They offered shares of ownership to anyone who paid $50. Their intent was to make enough money to purchase the castle and fix it up. All investors would be considered joint shareholders in the project, allowing everyone involved to have a say in how the property would be used.

The group raised €536,557 from 6,592 investors. It was the most money raised for a French heritage project through crowdsourcing, but it was well short of the winning bid.

The high bid at the auction was from Etienne Cluzel, who bid just under $900,000. Cluzel is a local entrepreneur who owns two restaurants in Carlux. He also owns another castle, Château de Sirey at Prats de Carlux, which is located about a mile from  Paluel. He has been restoring that castle for the last eight years. He intends to restore Paluel and open it to the public in two years.

Château de Paluel by Skitterphoto. CC0 1.0
Château de Paluel by Skitterphoto. CC0 1.0

Being from the area, the castle has significance for Cluzel. He considers the restoration to be the work of a lifetime.

Adopt A Chateau spokesman, Julien Marquis, said that the group was not disappointed in the result of the sale. They are just glad that someone is going to take care of the castle.

But Cluzel’s victory was short-lived as a company from Luxembourg, Eram Capital Advisors, has offered a higher bid of $1,000,000. The authorities are evaluating the company and its ability to come up with the funds to meet its bid. If the bid is found to be legitimate, the property will be placed back on auction in two to four months. This will be the last auction and the winner at that point will own the castle.

Cluzel is not backing down. He is reaching out to the community to form an association that will allow him to place a larger bid. He is committing to restore the castle and to open it to the public if the association is able to purchase the property. He is offering incentives to those who invest in the association, including discounts on tickets to visit the castle or other benefits. Such an association would need to raise a minimum of $85,000 to meet the bid from Eram Capital Advisors.

Eram Capital Advisors was formed in 2013 to offer unique investment opportunities to its investors. It has its headquarters in London and offices around the world.

Ian Harvey

Ian Harvey is one of the authors writing for WAR HISTORY ONLINE