The abandoned castle of La Mothe-Chandeniers. (AFP / Guillaume Souvant)

The abandoned chateau

Les Trois Moutiers, France -- The chateau is nearly inaccessible and in ruins, so your imagination runs wild. I have been dying to take a closer look inside.

The abandoned castle stands nearly entirely surrounded by water near Les Trois Moutiers in western France, not far from the city of Tours. I had spotted it a while back on an Urbex site. Urbex usually stands for Urban Exploring, but it’s not limited to cities. You can also find monuments and buildings, usually abandoned. In the countryside, that usually means ancient monasteries, factories or chateaus. I wouldn’t call it a hobby, but I like to explore a place like that every once in a while.

A picture taken on November 3, 2017 shows an aerial view of the ruined castle of La Mothe-Chandeniers, in Les Trois-Moutiers, central western France. (AFP / Guillaume Souvant)

This particular chateau is especially difficult to access -- the brother of the owner lives in another building on the property and ferociously guards the decaying castle.

Having read that, I decided that it wasn’t worth it to try and take a look inside. Then I read that there was a crowdfunding drive underway for this particular chateau. I thought it would make a nice story -- a crowdfund drive to save an abandoned chateau -- so I pitched it to my editors who said yes. I thought I would have a bit of time to prepare, but was called a few days later -- the story was ready and they needed photos.

A picture taken on November 3, 2017 shows an aerial view of the ruined castle of La Mothe-Chandeniers, in Les Trois-Moutiers, central western France. (AFP / Guillaume Souvant)

I tried to convince someone from the crowdfunding drive to accompany me, but noone was available, so I went alone. I parked my car discreetly and approached the building. I had scoped the place out ahead of time on Google Earth. But what Google Earth doesn’t show you is an enormous fence around the property surrounding the castle.

So I took a bunch of pictures with a drone and sent them to Paris. The desk immediately called me back, asking for photos from the ground as well. I told them that I would try but couldn’t promise anything, considering the fence and the ferocious reputation of the guy keeping an eye on the place.

A picture taken on November 3, 2017 shows an aerial view of the ruined castle of La Mothe-Chandeniers, in Les Trois-Moutiers, central western France. (AFP / Guillaume Souvant)

I walked along the fence until I came to a hedge, which I managed to pass. But then I found myself in the open. I couldn’t have taken more than four steps when I found myself in front of an old man.

(AFP / Guillaume Souvant)

After a frank and somewhat loud exchange, we managed to come to an understanding. The man was quite sceptical of the crowdfunding drive, given the enormous cost that it would take to restore the ruin. But he eventually agreed to let me take some pictures and even accompanied me along the way.

 A picture taken on November 3, 2017 shows a part of the ruined castle of La Mothe-Chandeniers, in Les Trois-Moutiers, central western France. Specialized in the rescue of old stones, the crowdfu (AFP / Guillaume Souvant)

When we got to the actual place, I could see the reason for his scepticism. The entire castle is basically a shell -- you have walls, but nearly nothing left inside, except vegetation that has comfortably taken over from onetime human inhabitants. Which of course, stimulates the imagination even more. You look at the vines overgrowing the place and think of the life that those walls once contained.

A picture taken on November 3, 2017 shows an aerial view of the ruined castle of La Mothe-Chandeniers, in Les Trois-Moutiers, central western France (AFP / Guillaume Souvant)