Julia Bristow

Julia Bristow – owner of Château Life Ltd & manager of Château Ventenac

My family and I bought Château Ventenac in 2004 as a holiday home.  We came across it quite by chance and immediately fell in love – ‘un coup de foudre‘ as the French say!

The house hadn’t been touched for about 50 years and was a bit of a wreck, whilst the gardens were a wilderness. We began the long and costly job of lovingly restoring both the house and the gardens. The main works on the house alone were to take the best part of three years and sadly during the process I separated from my ex-husband. But I decided to continue the work on my own with the help of my two sons. It has been a tough few years, but the house has now been transformed from a neglected wreck into a beautiful and comfortable family home.

The building still retains some of the grandeur of its bygone life. Floors of polished oak and original tiles, marble fireplaces and well-proportioned, lofty rooms all make it feel like a Château.  Yet we have a really well-equipped kitchen, modern bathrooms, and up-to-date satellite TV and wireless broadband internet.

Five years ago, I was looking for ways to generate the money to pay for the remaining works necessary to complete the renovation of the house and gardens and so I started summer rentals of the Château. Having restored this amazing 19th century castle, it seems a real gift to be able to share it with others and it’s wonderful to have such positive feedback from them.

We continue to make improvements each year. Currently we are spending a lot of our efforts on the gardens, which are really beginning to come into their own as the hedging and trees that we have planted begin to mature and complement the formal framework of the original features and different levels. It is an ongoing task (and pleasure).

We hope that those of you who choose to spend your holidays at Château Ventenac will be able to share with us the joy of such a wonderful space right on the banks of the Canal du Midi, with those glorious views across the vineyards to the hills of the Corbières and the Pyrenees beyond.

These days, I am based in Ventenac during parts of the spring and the autumn with my partner, Philip. My sons and their friends visit as often as they can and I am still in love with this beautiful corner of southern France and, more specifically, with this very special house, Château Ventenac.