French Chateau Demolished ‘By Mistake’ During Renovation

A Polish millionaire says his workers accidentally destroyed the 18th century chateau he was renovating, but villagers in the vineyard town of Yvrac smell a rat.

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Image: the south facade of the Chateau de Bellevue, completely bulldozed "by mistake."
Mairie d'Yvrac/AP

This 2-pic undated combo image provided by the Yvrac town hall Thursday, Dec.6, 2012 shows the south facade of the Chateau de Bellevue, completely bulldozed "by mistake."

Don’t believe the ads on cable TV: there is no such thing as a hassle-free 18th century chateau renovation.

Just ask town officials in the town of Yvrac, in southwest France. They’re still infuriated after discovering that work crews hired to restore the local chateau Bellevue instead demolished  the 18th century gem “by mistake”. Authorities in the village, nestled among picturesque vineyards some seven miles outside of Bordeaux, realized the regal manor had been unexpectedly razed in less than two days in late November. In fact, the only structure still standing is apparently one of the detached staff quarters — the building that was supposed to be leveled instead of the main house, which was undergoing renovation. Sorting out the mix up has been slowed by the fact the construction company and crew carrying out the work are Polish, and the owner is a Warsaw-based Russian millionaire.

(READ: The Good Life: Cheap Chateaus!)

The good folk of Yvrac (all 2,500 of them) are not amused—and some suspect the Keystone Cops-like construction excuse is cover for the intentional demolition of the 140,000 square-foot mansion, a move that local authorities never would have permitted. Destroying the existing structure to build a new, modern replacement would cost far less than restoring the original—and suspicious locals note the curious inquiries about the depth of the chateau’s foundations that builders made while applying for a structural modification permit.

Owner Dmitry Stroskin—who bought the Bellevue in 2011—denies those allegations, and points out he’s the primary victim — losing a manse that despite its deteriorating condition was ripe for restoration. As the local uproar mounted, Stroskin promised Yvrac officials he’d completely rebuild the chateau — literally, good as new — and has reportedly signed a nearly $2 million contract with local quarries and masons to reconstruct its walls in their original form. Minus a couple hundred years of history, of course.

Meanwhile, Yvrac mayor Claude Carty has filed papers accusing Stroskin’s workers of violating the original construction permit, and left it with state prosecutors for possible legal action. But there’s no use closing the stable door after the horse has bolted, and given the unsalvageable state of the 18th century rubble piled up at 53 avenue de la Chapelle, pointing fingers at this point seems similarly futile.

(READ: Bordeaux Breaks the Bank: Are Chinese Aficionados Fueling a Wine Bubble?)

12 comments
mystickisthick
mystickisthick

If a mosque turns up here...

johnnymorales
johnnymorales

@mystickisthick  So you don't know anything about Russians or Russia do you.....Didyou also think Romney was on the mark when he called them our #1 enemy,no doubt you thought due to their being a part of the Muslin menace LOL

RyanWenzel
RyanWenzel

@mystickisthick Internet billionaire here. I just bought the site and am now commissioning a mosque to be built. u mad

hsvbrawls
hsvbrawls like.author.displayName 1 Like

Both pictures shown in the story show the identical home in identical condition. Neither picture shows the home "completely bulldozed". I had to go to another website to see the destruction. Getting the pictures right is really important to the story, CNN.

rray91
rray91 like.author.displayName 1 Like

140,000 square feet?  Wouldn't it be nice if Time had sanity checkers to review these articles before posting them?  Measure the home on google maps and assume it's got two floors - 5000 square feet, max.  Oh I know the source material had metric measurements and an American did the conversion - totally understandable.

johng77
johng77

@rray91 Yeah I was thinking the same thing when I saw that.  A couple weeks ago I read an article about how some luxury resort tycoon was making plans to build the largest private residence in the US (or maybe the world, I forget) at just under 100,000 square feet.

Greg
Greg like.author.displayName 1 Like

If ever there was a reason to use the phrase "D'OH!!!!!", it's this

checat049
checat049 like.author.displayName 1 Like

That's what cheap labor and no supervision gets you. This is outrageous  and the dumb Russian with his money.

it's true money do not buy class.

AlWolfStann
AlWolfStann

throw the book at the demolition crew 10 ways from sunday. Mistake my arse, rack up enough charges and they'll turn the owner in.

perisoft
perisoft

@AlWolfStann Turn in the owner, and cost him tons of money? I don't know about you, but if I were some guy who was hired to run a bulldozer and shut up, a couple of years in prison would look pretty good compared to the potential side-effects of crossing a Russian oligarch...

Raggedhand
Raggedhand

Barbarians at the gates.  Literally.

ClarenceBodicker
ClarenceBodicker

If this was a "mistake", then have the crews who destroyed the chateau rebuild it brick by brick exactly as it was with the original materials.  THEN the "renovation" can proceed as it was originally planned....at least as it was planned on the permit applications.