Fiona Jones wanted a real castle

Sophie Duncan
8 min readJan 14, 2023

At Chateau Masgelier she found the one

Light hearted informative tales inspired by 22 years restoring a sandstone Renaissance castle in the South West France’s Occitania.

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In sight, from our castle, beyond a chequered valley and perched on a blazing red escarpment sits Rennes le Château, our sister Château of Dan Brown and Holy Blood fame. It is home to legends of earthly and spiritual treasure: The grail, apostolic secrets and an extraordinary priest who some say got away with murder. The area stands alone, without these mysteries, in its exquisite beauty. The independent culture of the area reaches back beyond Roman times, superimposing on the France that we know, a fascinating richness of history and savoir faire. An enchanting escape.

In 2018 we appeared, with our castle at St Ferriol, on Escape to the Château DIY. This popular English television programme about quirky Brits taking on the ruined and ruinous glamour of France’s aristocratic history led me to find out more about other foreigners in France taking on these enchanted money pits.

Whilst researching it I had an opportunity to explore parts of France I had not, until then that I made the time for and meet Château rescuers in different parts of the country.

We find Fiona at Château du Masgelier in the Creuse department of France’s Limousin


Fiona Jones wanted a real castle.

At Chateau Masgelier she found the one.

Fiona’s Château du Masgelier is a vast 12th century mediaeval historic domaine. It was home to a large garrison of soldiers. “In its heyday it took a retinue of servants and land tenants to just maintain it. “When I took it on, its grounds had been left to fall into disrepair for four decades”.

I was so impressed when I saw Fiona’s success, laying into Masgelier single handed. Fiona knows what she is doing. She has been restoring period buildings for since 1996. After her last renovation in England, a large historic country house in Sussex with gardens and…



Sophie Duncan

I write about France, Oxford, dogs, love and more. Sign up for my newsletter today, find Beyond Paris - a Short Guide to Rural France on Amazon