American men converted a French shop into a shopping hotel

(CNN) – After spending several years remodeling a nearly destroyed California home with her husband, the last thing graphic designer Mark Goff thinks he is doing is another great project.

But it was better to look for him when a blog about repairing a demolished cemetery in France came out on his computer screen, and he began to read it carefully.

Before he knew it, he was looking at how much the chateau would cost and how quickly they could buy it and move to Europe.

While one might want a little time to think about the idea of ​​buying a large, untreated property and moving to a foreign country, Goff’s husband, data engineer Phillip Engel, didn’t think much.

“He’s on the phone,” Goff told CNN Travel. “I turned my curtain over and just uttered the words,‘ Would you like to buy an apartment building in the south of France, have it restored and build a hotel, shopping mall or a reception area? ‘”

Seconds after pressing the pictures on Goff’s screen, Engel gave him fingers.

Sales history

Mark Goff and Phillip Engel are the proud owners of Château Avensac, located in the French town of Avensac.

Mark Goff and Phillip Engel are the proud owners of Château Avensac, located in the French town of Avensac.

Avensac Castle

“He went back to his conference call, and I started looking at plane tickets,” Goff said.

Once they have decided, there is the small task of finishing their California home, going to the market, selling, finding a suitable store and going through the process of moving. in a foreign country.

Before taking the plunge, they made two “sightseeing” trips to France, where they saw French manor houses on the market to see what they had to offer.

However, it took years to resolve their issues, and Covid-19 disease delayed their move.

Goff and Engel were granted a visa at the end of 2020, less than four years after “pressure changed the way their lives” and moved to the south of France in December, while the land is secure.

When the objects were reopened, they were able to discover the treasures, focusing their exploration around Gers, a rural country in southwestern France.

Unfortunately, their first choice failed, but they soon found a historic listed residence in the small town of Avensac, with a population of under 50, who selected all the eligible boxes. .

“We loved him,” Goff said. “The cemetery itself is amazing. It’s amazing the atmosphere to be in.”

‘Owners of the residence’

The restaurant has about 48 rooms, including a billiards room, a library and a wine cellar.

The restaurant has about 48 rooms, including a billiards room, a library and a wine cellar.

Avensac Castle

After receiving a gift in March, they became “lords of the church” in September 2021.

Chateau Avensac, which measures about 1,200 square meters, with less than 3 acres of land, returns them about $ 1.2 million, including taxes. The document they signed is about 700 years old.

According to Goff, three brothers are the owners of the property who inherited the property from their father, a French citizen.

“They grew up in that house, so it was very difficult to let them go,” he explained.

Although the inn was built in the early 19th century, it was built on the site of an old cemetery dating back to the 14th century. It has about 48 rooms, including a pool room and a repository.

“A lot can be taken care of,” Goff said. “I think it’s a lot. But it’s something that can be maintained. I’ve seen churches have 90 to 120 rooms.”

While they consider themselves at “ground zero,” Goff and Engel have big plans for wealth, which requires a lot of work.

They don’t have a lot of hospitality, but they don’t lack ideas.

“We don’t want to just build a shopping mall where people come and sleep at night,” Goff said. “Our goal is to create events where you come to the chateau, stay for a week, and do things.

Making an idea

06 male body changing French shop

Goff and Engel plan to convert the property into a shopping mall and entertainment venues.

Avensac Castle

“So things like cooking, painting, cycling, swimming in the river, and writing,” he said.

“Every week is about a certain kind of thinking. Practicing that thought and experience. Thinking is the most important thing.”

They believe the property is a good wedding, and they want to host weddings down the line.

“Our goal is America, because that’s what we see,” Goff added, before adding that they wanted to get out of their comfort zone at the right time. .

Although the cemetery was remodeled, the couple said they were committed to maintaining the area.

“We’re a return, not a repeat,” Goff explained. “So we keep all the details there.

“That’s part of what put us in the business. It’s not troubled by the best.

While the chateau is “true to the country,” it’s easy to get to, with Toulouse-Blagnac airport about a 45-minute drive away.

When they arrived at a sick time and rented a house outside the village during the shopping season, Goff and Engel didn’t have a chance to meet with the locals for a while.

Make long returns

The men say they plan to make the most of the "great work" themselves.

The men said they planned to do most of the “hard work” themselves.

Avensac Castle

“Sometimes I think the word comes out that the store is sold, and these Americans are coming,” Engel said.

They want to make a good impression, they invite their new friends around to celebrate the day they signed the deals.

“We open the doors and we say ‘Come in.’ And people are like ‘truth?’ We told them to hang out and have fun, ”Goff said.

They were delighted when the various villagers showed up and began to search the fence.

“The original owners were very independent,” Engel said. “So some of them [the villagers] He lived in the village all their lives without entering. ”

Goff and Engel hosted a Halloween party for the whole village, and said they wanted the locals to see their chateau experiment.

“Of course, it’s our home,” Engel said. “But it’s also about the community.”

But the parties and festivals for men are not over, there are many things to start with.

While they plan to do most of the “hard work” on the chateau themselves, Goff and Engel are bringing in craftsmen to do the professional side of the furniture.

They shared their editing work on their blog, At the Chateau, and also created a YouTube stream, where they plan to host live streams from Chateau Avensac.

“We’re trying to find a way to present ourselves on YouTube a little differently, and make people really happy,” Goff said. “We don’t want to talk heads.”

One of the projects they are considering is to combine en suite bathrooms with bedrooms.

They are currently working on their designs with an in -house designer, describing them as “traditional with a small eye of excitement.”

Country life

11 men changing French residence

Mark and Phillip work hard in the French countryside and say they are well -liked by the locals.

Avensac Castle

“The bathrooms were designed as usual, because we didn’t have a bathroom (when the restaurant was built),” Goff said.

Some of the occupants they are looking at are pictured in original photos from the Waldorf Astoria New York.

Goff and Engel plan to put air in the bedrooms. However, the feeling of this has aroused in their village.

“There’s an idea here that you don’t have to be lifting,” Engel said. “I told him who he was before and he just looked at me.

For the time being, they are available by opening the doors just a few inches in the sun in the summer and opening them in the evening, which is typical of chateau life in France.

Although they have a specific investment model, Goff and Engel agree that their funding cannot be increased as they had hoped.

“It worked better than we thought,” Goff said, explaining that he and Engel used the money left over from buying their California home to pay for it. for redoing.

“If we think about it, we can buy a store for a little more or less,” Engel said.

“Then we had enough money to actually do the renovation.

That “other way” is about giving back to the various projects and getting them the money to complete them.

The honeymoon field

Goff and Engel hope to open some rooms at the chateau next year.

Goff and Engel hope to open some rooms at the chateau next year.

Avensac Castle

Among the activities they organized was the transformation of their wine cellar, an outdoor wine cellar, into “a very festive dining area with a stage and stage lights.”

“It’s an amazing combination. Because we can have great things in the night without disturbing anyone,” Goffs said.

It was difficult for them to document any of the construction work, because the contractors there had been harassed since the time of illness and they were too busy to come on board.

“It’s a big project,” Engel said. “Some of the lightning goes back to the 1930s.”

Understandably, the language is more difficult to understand. Although they both spoke French, negotiations with the French treaties were difficult and slow.

But while the renovation was not as easy as they had hoped, the men were confident they would be able to open some rooms next year.

“We hope to find something and run for 2023 to start bringing in a little more money to continue to support moving forward,” Goff said. “We want to do some experimental events to put our feet on the ground.”

For now, Goff and Engel work hard at life at the chateau and say every day is a journey for them.

“This is the part we want,” Engel said. “is it [the chateau] it was a little compact, but viable, and we went into the winter with our unlimited heating system. “

While they look forward to being able to welcome visitors into Chateau Avensac, they are happy to find the place for themselves, and to see the fruits of their labor, calmly but truly. .

“It’s exciting and fun,” Goff said. “We’re at the honeymoon.”

Correction: The first story of this story and the title are incorrect in the number of bedrooms of the chateau.

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