Dreaming of a Château

Dreaming of a Château

A springtime view of Château du Puy Vidal from above...

Loulabelle's FrancoFiles episode 70

Guest: Julia Leach

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Growing up Julia Leach had a dream of living in a huge historic building, a château, with everyone she loved in the one little community and she had the feeling this beautiful home was meant to be in France.

Julia had a dreamy, idyllic childhood which she describes as old fashioned. No screens, no TV, just old movies, books and lots of playtime. It felt very different from the way her peers were growing up. After high school Julia had a gap year backpacking around Europe including France, returning to college in New York City.

After graduating Julia worked her way into the film industry and fell in love with working on period pieces. This fed her need to connect with history but even though it was a wonderful career, the film industry takes a toll on lifestyle and work-life balance. Especially with both Julia and her partner Caroline both working in the industry. Julia’s sister was also working in NYC and living with Julia and Caroline.

And then COVID happened…

Like many people, COVID caused a complete re-evaluation of the way Julia and her family wanted to live their life. The three of them in NYC moved back west to live with Julia’s parents in California. Living under one roof and together with all the family again led rise to a long term family dream of moving and living in France. Julia was seeking a slower more old fashioned way of life like she had dreamed of as a child.

Julia had seen some Americans struggle with living in France, coming back as the change was just too great. So she turned to Googling to find out if what she was dreaming of was being done by anyone else. Escape to the Château came up in her google search, specifically Stephanie Jarvis. Stephanie bought a château at age 29 which was the same age as Julia at that time. So off Julia and Caroline went to meet Stephanie in France! The main advice Stephanie had was, “if you’re going to buy a château and make it a business, make it a full-time job. A property on the scale of a château is too much to be dealt with on a part-time basis”.

Stephanie’s vlog, “The Château Diaries” became a daily ritual for Julia and her whole family! They were her biggest fans and drank in every moment of Stephanie’s shows!

When it came time to seriously considering buying a château, Julia asked Stephanie to check it out for them. Stephanie travelled to the Château du Puy Vidal and told Julia that if she could she would buy it herself! So Julia and the family put an offer in and the rest is history! From spring this year Julia and Caroline have been living in the château with her mother and sister arriving more recently. Julia’s dad will also move across after finalising his business in the US.

The Future

Plans are now underway for many events at Château du Puy Vidal. There will be an artist retreat this year and a whole schedule of events for 2023 after a huge renovation project later this year resulting in every one of the 14-15 bedrooms having their own ensuite bathroom! There is also a fully contained gite on the top floor of the château.

Further plans might include cooking classes, yoga retreats, film making, photography, costume making workshops, French classes… all to make us feel connected to France!

Julia’s links

Instagram – @theladyofthechateau

You Tube – Lady of the Château Productions


Moules Frites


George Moustaki – Le Temps de Vivre

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