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Crowdfunding For French Castles


What if I told you that for about $60, you could own part of a castle in France? La Mothe-Chandeniers is a gorgeous, 13th century chateau about 200 miles southwest of Paris - gorgeous but decrepit. The castle looks like something out of a fairy tale, but nature is gradually reclaiming it. Not everybody wants a tree in their bathroom.

A French crowdsourcing platform called Dartagnans is working with an association to try to restore and protect French castles. And they've made an appeal to the public. Help us shave this chateau, and we'll make you owners, along with a few thousand other people. Romain Delaume is the CEO of Dartagnans. He joins us from Paris. Thanks so much for being with us.

ROMAIN DELAUME: Thank you, Scott, for inviting me.

SIMON: What's the chateau look like right now?

DELAUME: Basically, it's a castle you can see come from out of a Walt Disney movie or on a fairy tale book. It's something incredible. I think this is a unique monument in the world. And our aim today is try to save it with as many people as we could find.

SIMON: I've got a big family on both sides of the Atlantic. How many bedrooms?

DELAUME: At the moment, there's no bedrooms. There's much more trees and flowers and nature, which took over it. But you use to have a few bedrooms - I think maybe 12 or 16. I don't know exactly.

SIMON: You have more than 10,000 co-owners right now, don't you?

DELAUME: Yeah. I think we have just reached a million dollar raising. We have almost 100 different nationalities who have participated in the project. And I think the Mothe-Chandeniers is now a sign of what people can do, thanks to Internet and social media. And we're going to be maybe 15,000 co-owners in a few weeks now.

SIMON: Well, Monsieur Delaume, what if, you know, a thousand owners want a red carpet in the front hallway, and 2,000 of them want a blue carpet, and 3,000 want bamboo flooring. What do you do?

DELAUME: We do what we do exactly in a democracy. That means the majority will win.

SIMON: (Laughter).

DELAUME: And this is the aim of the project. We want the castle to be a collective project. We want to have everyone who has ideas for the castle's future and who want to help also with their hands or with the company or whatever they can bring to the projects to say to us. And then we're going to ask the thousand co-owners what ideas showed them the most. And then we will go for that. The democracy will win over everything on this project.

SIMON: Democracy always wins, I like to think.

DELAUME: (Laughter) Yeah, exactly. And I think people are already getting involved. You know, we are having hundreds of calls every day and emails. And people say, if you need me to help you with the restoration, if you need hands, if you need anything, I can do many things for it. So I think this is the great force of the project. It's not the money. It's much more the people we manage together around this.

SIMON: Romain Delaume is the CEO of Dartagnans. Thanks so much for being with us, sir.

DELAUME: Thank you very much, sir, for inviting me. And thank you, also, to all the people who has made this project possible.

(SOUNDBITE OF CRAFTYBOY'S "ZENGO (ORIGINAL MIX)") Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

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