The pandemic shut down her chateau. Then she turned a YouTube star

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(CNN) — What do you get once you put a former opera singer, two ex-boyfriends, her French mom, an adopted Scottish brother, a Dutch tango teacher, a Norwegian flower designer and a cheery Argentine home supervisor collectively right into a sprawling 40-room French chateau?

Effectively, you get “The Chateau Diaries,” the unlikely YouTube quarantine hit that has made a star of Stephanie Jarvis and her family and friends.

Shopping for the chateau

Fifteen years in the past, Jarvis was residing in London, despairing over the price of housing and complaining about it to her greatest buddy (and ex-boyfriend), Nic, when she realized how comparatively cheap it was to purchase a rambling chateau in France.
Stephanie Jarvis pooled her resources with her ex and decided to buy a chateau with him.

Stephanie Jarvis pooled her sources along with her ex and determined to purchase a chateau with him.

Michael Potts

“For the value of my two-bedroom flat and Nic’s two-bedroom flat, we had been in a position to purchase this chateau. It was the identical sum of money because the sale of these two. It is utterly insane,”Jarvis says.

Jarvis had grown up in a big house in England after her British father and French mom purchased a big nation property and set about making it into a house for Alzheimer’s sufferers. Her mother and father, each nurses, believed residing in stunning environment can be helpful for the sufferers. So the Jarvis household moved into the attic and positioned the sufferers into the primary home under.

Flash-forward a number of years and Jarvis, then 29 and half-heartedly pursuing a profession in opera, determined she missed residing in a big, completely happy house surrounded by folks. So she pooled her sources along with her ex and determined to purchase a chateau with him.

“For me, I simply love being with hundreds and a great deal of folks round me. There’s nothing I take pleasure in concerning the considered residing alone in a flat.”

Chateau de Lalande

Jarvis scoured the French countryside for the right chateau, one not too near main roadways however not too removed from essential facilities (like cheese retailers and good thrift shops).

In an space not removed from Limoges, she first set eyes on the sixteenth century Chateau de Lalande. She knew she was house.

A dashing ex … and an elusive one

Although Jarvis purchased the chateau along with her ex, she acquired ethical help (and free labor) from her mother and father and her then-boyfriend, Michael Potts.

Potts, who was remarkably encouraging of his then-girlfriend shopping for a chateau along with her ex, just lately purchased into the property, and now Chateau de Lalande is collectively owned by the three of them.

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Whereas Jarvis spends a lot of the yr on the chateau, the opposite two homeowners spend a major period of time away.

Stephanie and Michael Potts, a co-owner, appreciate spur-of-the-moment disco parties, James Bond nights and extravagant Versailles-inspired galas.

Stephanie and Michael Potts, a co-owner, recognize spur-of-the-moment disco events, James Bond nights and indulgent Versailles-inspired galas.

Michael Potts

Nic, often called “the elusive Nic” within the “Chateau Diaries,” typically shuns the highlight and prefers to not seem on digital camera when Jarvis movies her vlog.

His spouse, Marie, and their son, Antoine, function prominently on the vlogs, nonetheless, and have turn out to be a beloved a part of the roving solid of Lalanders who inhabit the chateau. The household lives in Belgium throughout the faculty yr, however are renovating a separate residence within the chateau.

They spend lengthy stretches on the chateau over the summer time and winter holidays. Additionally they determined to experience out the pandemic there.

“I feel it takes a really robust girl to be effective together with your husband nonetheless proudly owning one thing along with his ex, particularly when it is not just a bit one thing, when it is this huge a part of your life, and in reality, I might say that Marie embraces it greater than he does … It was [Marie] who mentioned “Nic, we’ll Lalande. We’re having it [the lockdown] there.’ “

Volunteers hold it operating (and assist plan elaborate costume events)

Jarvis recruits an ever-changing group of volunteers who’ve expertise in cooking, cleansing, gardening and panorama design.

Volunteers are serving to Jarvis to revive the chateau; pre-pandemic, they helped her attend to the visitors. Free room and board is obtainable in alternate for his or her work. And typically they simply keep on indefinitely.

Norwegian volunteer Marie Wiik initially got here to the chateau to assist prepare dinner and design the occasional flower association. Now she’s arrange a big floral studio on the chateau and has gained her personal spectacular on-line following, showcasing her flower design.

Dutch tango teacher Selmar Duin confirmed up at Lalande simply as the primary lockdown hit France. He drove as much as the chateau in his camper van, accompanied by his canine, Diesel. Initially shocked by his look (he’d been on the highway and unaware Jarvis was locking down and not taking in her scheduled volunteers), his carpentry expertise and skill to MacGyver options to the chateau’s issues proved so helpful he has been formally employed.

Argentine Natalia “Nati” Oliveto was so succesful as a volunteer she was employed to deal with all visitor reservations, home administration and fan mail coming into the chateau.

Different volunteers assist with elaborate desk settings and ornament tasks. Since Jarvis loves a theme get together, volunteers must have an appreciation for spur-of-the-moment disco events, James Bond nights and indulgent Versailles-inspired galas.

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Staying on the chateau

Earlier than the lockdown, Jarvis’ important earnings got here from renting out 5 rooms of the chateau as a mattress and breakfast. She supplemented that with music workshops and different occasions held on the grounds.

Chateau de Lalande is featured prominently in "The Chateau Diaries," the unlikely YouTube quarantine hit that has made a star of Stephanie Jarvis and her friends and family.

Chateau de Lalande is featured prominently in “The Chateau Diaries,” the unlikely YouTube quarantine hit that has made a star of Stephanie Jarvis and her family and friends.

Michael Potts

In 2018, she started showing in a UK actuality collection known as “Escape to the Chateau DIY,” which options a number of Brits fixing up French chateaux. Her appearances on the present had been successful, and it impressed Jarvis to begin her personal YouTube channel, that includes different behind-the-scenes moments at Lalande. She taught herself to movie and edit however the day by day operating the chateau did not go away numerous time for her new interest.

After which …

… the lockdown!

When the pandemic hit, Jarvis discovered herself within the excellent place to quarantine, with one huge downside: With out paying visitors, how would Jarvis pay the payments?

“Lockdown modified our enterprise utterly. It closed it down, totally,” she says.

“But it surely did not change our life very a lot as a result of we’re a giant family. And there is a lot area, and a lot backyard, that we did not actually really feel locked down in the best way that some folks have.”

Jarvis began filming extra of her day by day life throughout quarantine, typically posting as many as 5 half-hour movies per week.

“I am so fortunate as a result of it is simpler for me to make a lot content material due to the folks round me. You understand, I can get up within the morning and I will wander round. I am going to ask Marie what she’s doing, I am going to ask Selmar what he is doing, I am going to ask Dan the gardener what he is doing, after which I’ve the movies. I am fortunate, however that is due to the others. If I used to be sitting right here on my own, I would not have the ability to make 5 movies per week.”

Jarvis’ followers have created a web based neighborhood, who anxiously await every episode’s first stay airing, and remark alongside throughout its preliminary broadcast.

“I feel I have been surprised by how a lot with the ability to be a part of our life has helped some folks, who had been utterly remoted. Some girls have been saying they have not seen anybody else since March.”

YouTube stardom

Earlier than the pandemic, Jarvis had about 10,000 followers. “I used to be excited as a result of I acquired to 10-thousand,” she says. Now she has surpassed 100-thousand followers.

She receives letters day by day from grateful followers who say her movies haven’t solely offered leisure throughout the pandemic, however have additionally truly helped alleviate their despair.

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Jarvis’ buddies and households have turn out to be stars in their very own proper, being acknowledged in airports and shops throughout Europe. Her delightfully disapproving French mom, her adopted Scottish brother (often attired in a dizzying ensemble of clashing plaids), and her new South African stepfather all have their very own social media accounts and followers.

The a lot anticipated wedding ceremony of her mom (Jarvis’ father died in 2005) was was a “Midsummer Night time’s Dream”-themed extravaganza, which aired on the fact present and featured in a number of of Jarvis’ weblog.

Chateau renovations

Money Jarvis earns from Patreon is going toward fixing up the chateau's chapel and restoring a now-drained historic lake on the property.

Cash Jarvis earns from Patreon goes towards fixing up the chateau’s chapel and restoring a now-drained historic lake on the property.

Michael Potts

Earlier this yr, Jarvis began accepting on-line donations via Patreon to assist restore the chateau. Cash she earns via the location goes towards fixing up the chateau’s chapel and restoring a now-drained historic lake on the property. (Disclosure: This author contributed cash after spending a number of lockdown days binge-watching her YouTube collection.)

“Patreon is about $22,000 (USD) a month, which is totally life-changing. And I did not launch it until February, so that is since February, it is gone from zero to $22,000 a month. It is simply insane.”

Jarvis is now in a position to deal with restoration work she did not know she’d ever get to.

Since that Patreon account is a nonprofit and all cash can solely be used for renovations, she now earns her private earnings (and retains the chateau operating) by way of the cash earned from her vlogs. “Which implies that my YouTube advert income retains everybody in meals and, let’s face it, wine,” she says.

Vlogging European tradition

Jarvis’ vlog adventures are spotlighting an space of south-central France much less recognized to vacationers. Moreover highlighting life in her chateau, there are journeys to the close by Limoges manufacturing unit retailer and to native brocantes and thrift shops brimming with ridiculously low cost French vogue.

“Europeans journey quite a bit and we’re actually responsible of not visiting our personal areas. We go to work on a regular basis after which we go on vacation. And we do not take into consideration what’s round us. And I used to be actually responsible of that. Due to the vlog, I’ve found my native space way more as nicely.”

For now, Jarvis is fortunately hunkered down in her chateau for Christmas, celebrating every day of introduction with a special vlog, and eagerly anticipating such Lalande traditions because the “Boxing Day Barbecue.”

She’s glad her movies have been loved by so many individuals this yr, and hopes others may take into account saving a chateau, too.

“I feel French chateaus, they sort of need to be a factor, you already know? The wonderful historical past … it could be great if folks come and begin to get captivated with restoring them and taking care of them.”

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