In Saint-Martin-du-Tertre, the castle (again) for sale

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He was finally believed saved. The castle of Franconville is actually for sale again. Although the former residence of the Duke of Massa is not referenced in any real estate agent, several potential investors have already come to visit the place. The current owners of Russian nationality have indeed given up transforming the site into a luxury hotel complex.

The acquisition of this area rich in history dates back to 2014. The site was still part of the heritage of Carnelle Hospital, even if it had not been patients for a long time (it had been converted into a sanatorium in 1929). Abandoned since the 1990s, the castle had suffered significant damage. The Russian offer was therefore welcomed locally as an unexpected opportunity for this monument in danger.

A palace project with balneotherapy center

To carry out their project, the contractors have filed five different building permits corresponding to as many projects. "They wanted to make a palace," says Mayor (DVD) Jacques Féron. "They would have created a huge activity for the sector, with a lot of jobs. They believed it! The pharaonic project planned to create a balneotherapy center by redeveloping the former theater of the estate.

The Duke of Massa, who built the castle in its current form between 1876 and 1882 under the direction of architect Gabriel-Hippolyte Destailleur, was indeed a composer of music. Beside the main building, a replica of the Maisons-Laffitte castle (Yvelines), he had a theater built, inspired by the exterior of Versailles or the interior of Bordeaux.

The Duke thus proposed concerts during sumptuous feasts that he organized on his property, bringing his guests from Paris on specially chartered trains from the Gare du Nord station in Paris. This is where Russian owners planned to create a swimming pool. A hundred semi-buried treatment rooms would then have welcomed future guests for a moment of relaxation.

The theater of the castle of Franconville. LP / Marie Persidat
The theater of the castle of Franconville. LP / Marie Persidat

Deterioration of diplomatic relations

The castle itself would have hosted a gourmet restaurant. The Orangerie was also to be renovated to be rented for events. In total, it is rumored that more than 80 M € could have been invested to create this luxury complex. But the deterioration of diplomatic relations between France and Russia, linked to the annexation of Crimea, seems to have plagued this vast program, dissuading French banks from granting loans.

On the imposing grid of the domain, still enthroned the panels mentioning a building permit obtained in 2017. Seen from the outside, one has the impression that nothing has moved in recent years. "Thanks to the Russians, the castle is out of water", tempers Olivier Valmier president of the association of safeguard of the castle of Franconville (ASCF). "They cleaned, redone the windows, the roof, opened the gutters, it was already a huge building site. The thousands of euros spent immediately after the purchase would have stabilized the monument.

Interested promoters

However, much remains to be done. The theater and the Orangery are, among others, in a very poor state. It remains to find a buyer who would accept the challenge and find the funds. Because the price could reach several million euros. At least two promoters would have already shown interest, without yet acting.

Whatever the identity of the future owner, the association of safeguard of the castle of Franconville (ASCF) has only one wish. "I hope he will take care to protect and respect the place," says Olivier Valmier confiding that he was not convinced by the project to install a pool in the old theater. "The Duke of Massa was an important artist in his day. Here, he wanted to push the French art of living to its climax. The castle was a place of excellence, we are so lucky to have it in Val-d'Oise … "

The mayor has only one wish. "The castle must not be completely closed to the general public," says Jacques Féron. "The future project must include at least one restaurant for example. "

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