As It Happens

Why this French château worth millions is on the market for just £10

British philanthropist Ruth Philips has owned the château in the picturesque French countryside for 13 years.

The owner is selling tickets to raise money for her affordable housing organization

Ruth Philips is selling off tickets for the chance to win her French château, and all proceeds will be going towards her affordable housing organization and a charity that helps the homeless. (eco-chateau.com)
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British philanthropist Ruth Philips is selling tickets for just £10 ($17.29 Cdn) for the chance to own her $2-million French château— all in the name of affordable and eco-friendly housing. 

"I wanted to raise funds for this project of mine because that's what I want to do really for the rest of my life," Philips told As It Happens host Carol Off.

"I'm 61 now, so I really want to make the dream work." 

Proceeds go to charity

Philips said she has always been passionate about affordable, eco-friendly housing and originally wanted to build her own "eco-village" on the château's property in Saint-Privat, Corrèze, France.

She bought the château 13 years ago with her husband, but after they split up she rented it out for holidays.

"I realized running the château on my own there wasn't that much fun," Philips said. 

Philips says it is the beauty of the chateau and the surrounding area that she will miss the most. (winafrenchchateau.co.uk)

Now Philips owns the Eco Village Development Company, which builds low-cost homes that can run "off-grid." Most of the proceeds of the ticket sales will go toward her company to build affordable homes that don't hurt the environment.

Five per cent of the sales will be donated to St. Petroc's Society, a charity for homeless people in England.

In order to hand the keys over to the lucky winner, Philips says she has to sell at least 300,000 of the 500,000 tickets available.

So far, she says she's not quite ready to reveal exactly how well the sales are going.

'It's really spectacular'

The tickets are being sold at the website winafrenchchateau.co.uk. The online competition is open to anyone in England, Scotland and Wales.

The potential new homeowner also has to pick the correct translation of two French expressions: "les carottes sont cuites" and "ca ne casse pas trois pattes a un canard."

The nine-bedroom château de Cautine is on a 34-acre lot in Dordogne, France, and is complete with a swimming pool, a cottage, two barns and a stable. 

The picturesque château is newly renovated and has been used for holiday rentals. (winafrenchchateau.co.uk)
The château was recently renovated, but still has many original antiques. (winafrenchchateau.co.uk)

"It's really spectacular," Philips said. 

"It's in the most fantastic location. It's just totally quiet and peaceful. It's surrounded by forests and fields and mountains. It's stunning." 

Hid Jewish family during war 

The château also has a rich history.

Philips says about 10 years ago, a Jewish woman visited and said the baron and baroness of the château hid her family from the Nazis during the Second World War in a secret room in the attic. 

Philips says about 10 years ago a Jewish woman came to visit, and said her family hid in the chateau during the Second World War by the baron and baroness. (Submitted by Ruth Philips)

Philips says that while she loves the château, it is time to move back to Cornwall, England, to be with her children and start the next chapter of her life. 

But that doesn't mean selling her former home isn't bittersweet.   

"It's the beauty of the place that I love and that's what I'll miss. It's not really things that are important to me now."

Written by Sarah Jackson. Interview produced by Chloe Shantz-Hilkes.