Château de La Fare
Janet and Philip
Run by an Australian couple with a very British past, the Château de la Fare is a stunning historical building in South France. Previously it’s been home to a Knights Templar, as well as a musketeer believed to be one of Alexandre Dumas’s Three Musketeers.
Come and be treated like royalty
If you want to stay in a château where you enjoy a right royal welcome, Château de la fare could be just the place.
It’s run by Philip Barnard-Brown and his wife Janet. And although they both hail from Australia, before they managed the château Philip used to be Senior Coachman to Her Majesty the Queen.
Previous experience includes trooping of the colour
He worked for Queen Elizabeth for over 18 years, performing various duties such as driving the Queen for the Trooping the Colour. Philip was Coachman for three royal weddings, including being lead Postillon for the marriage of Harry and Meghan. He also drove Mrs Obama and her children by carriage through the grounds of Buckingham Palace for which he received a thank you letter from her husband The President of The United States of America. He was even given a piece of William and Kate’s wedding cake by Prince Charles. (Philip didn’t say whether they ate it or framed it!)
Beat this for a posh address!
Philip’s previous employment meant the couple shared quite a prestigious address too – they lived at the Royal Mews in Buckingham Palace.
Janet also has a prestigious equestrian background, being a prominent Rider in Australia and an International riding coach.
Moving to France
The Barnard-Browns purchased their dream home, Château de la Fare, located in a rural area, near Ales in the south of France, in 2012. Restoration work did not start in earnest until Philip’s retirement in 2019 when they moved to France permanently in 2012.
Holidays only to begin with
When they moved to France, they focused on the main Chateau, with the plan to open a small accommodation business. Although for the first six or seven years the only work done was on making the old stable area liveable for holidays, as well as painting and decorating.
A great place for a wedding reception
The Barnard-Brown’s daughter was married in May 2019, and so the château was made ready for the reception. The idea was they should be ready to invite guests by 2020, but like other château owners the pandemic making it a difficult year. 2021 is already shaping up to be a much better year, with a lot of interest from the local French community.
The château has as remarkable a history as it’s owners
The site was settled by Berenger de la Fare, a Knights Templar, in 1170.
You can see some of that history in the Chateau itself. From the massive 12th Century Tower, to the ancient mosaic-tiled floors, showing the Knight’s Templar Cross in the dining room.
One of Berenger’s descendants, Philippe Charles de la Fare lived here too. In 1702 Philippe became a Musketeer to Louis XIV, and went on to become commander. He’s of particular interest as he is believed to be one of the renowned Three Musketeers.
Where does the Château DIY show fit in?
On a whim, Philip got in touch with Dick and Angel via email in 2019. Angel responded and the very next day a production team got in touch!
Philip said it was a wonderful experience being part of the Chateau DIY team. And that the exposure “did wonders for us”.
What was the biggest hurdle to overcome?
Not speaking the language fluently was a challenge. Janet speaks a little, and Phillip is hoping to improve.
Philip’s tips for surviving Chateau restoration
Be prepared for anything. Nothing will be as straightforward as you think it is. Everything will take twice as long as you think. And most important of all – have a sense of humour.
So if you want to visit a château that is steeped in French history, and run by Australians who really couldn’t be any more British, you know where to go.
Ask The Owners
Find out more or to book a stay – contact the owners here