Rent first to see if a self-build home in a cohousing project at an eco-chateau in France is for you

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Posted Nov 11 2016 by Ruth Phillips of Eco Chateau

An cohousing eco-hamlet around a chateau in the Dordogne region of France is being formed. You can rent a plot to see if the project is for you, before deciding whether to become a co-owner.

NB: this project is no longer accepting applications.

The Chateau

Chateau de Cautine lies 500 meters above sea-level, surrounded by the vast tranquil countryside of one of the least populated parts of France. It is a region of high plateaus and deeply incised gorges with mountains, lakes, forests and rivers including the magnificent Dordogne river just 15 minutes away.

The chateau is the central hub of a cohousing project, and we have permission for several residential plots around the chateau.


We’re looking for co-owners – people to buy into the project. Initially, we’re allowing people to rent a mobile home on a plot to see first if the project might be for them, with an option to purchase later.

The chateau can provide employment for co-owners (it’s a rented in part or whole to holidaymakers, and for retreats, workshops and events). The place is off-grid, with many ecological facilities.

Eventually, the eco-hamlet will provide a model of low-impact living and holidaymaking. Each plot will have a permanent home and a large garden.

The plan

Our plans have been a long time coming and have had to change a few times along the way for very good reasons, mainly due to planning application delays and avoiding the risk of starting without a fully workable plan. The research we have carried out during this time, however, has been invaluable. In the last newsletter, we were searching for co-owners for the property and after holding a number of open weekends in the Spring this year, many were very interested but found it too large of a commitment without knowing the other people or the place beforehand.

As a result of these findings, we have modified the first stage quite radically and we now feel that we have an exciting way forward, which will allow for a minimal investment with maximum flexibility for those who wish to try out living here with a view to making an ongoing commitment.

The revised offer

For a rental of around €380 per month*, would you like to live off-grid, in one of the most beautiful and unspoilt parts of south- central France?

Can you picture life with a large private allotment to grow your own food, acres of land to roam around in, like-minded neighbours, a beautiful communal space for gatherings, a communal laundry, a large swimming pool, rooms in a fabulous chateau for friends and family when they want to visit ‘at cost’, a retreat centre on your doorstep where you can earn a living by creating workshops and events for groups or do the catering or help with events, with a local exchange trading system and with the option to buy a plot later if you fit in and it fits you?

*This price is approximate and does not constitute an offer.

Families with children

So far 6 of the 8 people/couples are over 45 years so we are now targeting families with children and younger residents. The following may interest you if you have kids….

Forest School – we are in discussion with Angelina, an experienced primary school teacher and Forest School teacher who is interested in setting up a forest school at Eco Chateau for residents children and for the neighbourhood.


Design and build of the mobile houses

Peter Blok has worked up a most lovely eco mobile house design for us! You can view some of his designs here.

He is working on detailed plans and costings now. Guided self-build and turnkey options will be available. We envisage building onsite from June next year. The build will be self-organised by each person who will contract directly with local building guides and carpenters under the guidance of Peter.

NB: this project is no longer accepting applications.