The price of chateaux in France has plumetted, down by around 40% since 2007, according to a leading high end estate agent in France.
To own a chateau in France has always been the dream of many well healed buyers. The size, history and charm of such properties, together with the reward to self-image they offer, has meant that there has always been a market for them.
Well, not any more it seems, for according to up-market estate agents Barnes International, at a time of economic crisis international buyers in particular are looking for a safe haven, such as Paris, London or New York, where properties have greater certainty of holding their value.
Bertrand Couturié, who is in charge of Propriétés et Châteaux at Barnes says that "Chateaux are still a dream property, but they have become more of a pure leisure purchase, not a choice for those with a lack of confidence about the future."
As a result, the demand for such properties is low, there are a larger number of such properties on the market and the prices of chateaux have fallen.
"France has lost between 30% and 50% of the value of country property over the past 5 years", says Bertrand Couturié.
In some of the more isolated parts of the country, such as Limousin, Indre, Aveyron and Brittany, estate agents are reporting that the market for second homes of prestige properties is almost stagnant, and only sellers who are wholly realistic about the valuation of their property are able to sell.
When you then also factor in the recent fall in the value of the euro against Sterling, this can mean that a chateau purchase does come within the whelms of realisation of a whole new market of buyers.
Just what you might now expect to pay for a chateau will of course depend on many factors, but in many areas of the country manoir and small chateau can be had for around €500,000, or even less. That's a lot of aura for a relatively modest price.
However, the acquisition cost is not the only consideration, for the problem for such buyers is then the running costs of their passion, which can amount to tens of thousands of euros a year.
If the property is in need of major repairs or renovation there is even greater need for hesitancy, as the purchase price may be a mere bagatelle of the final outlay.
For who seek to turn their chateau into a business to meet those costs, the work involved in running a successful chateau based business is also substantial, more often than not requiring appropriate skills and experience.
The examples of just where this has been successfully achieved are few and far between. Leisure based and bed and breakfast activities maybe frequently cited as exploitable commercial opportunities, but they are generally very marginal income sources, often requiring significant investment.
With the biggest bargains also only to be found in those areas where commercial prospects are probably weakest the risk is increased.
Wine based chateaux always have a premium price attached to them, despite the fact that there are many former owners of minor chateaux in Bordeaux ringing their hands at having offloaded to buyers from Asia a business that had little future prospects and a property that was burning a hole in their pocket.
In the end, therefore, for most potential purchasers, such properties are more likely to end up as ones to visit and ogle over, to believe that it can be within your reach, rather than to actually take the plonge and buy it.
For those who do feel comfortable with the price tag then it certainly has the potential to be a hugely life enhancing experience.