(CNN) — What do you obtain when you placed a previous diva, 2 ex-boyfriends, her French mom, a taken on Scottish sibling, a Dutch tango trainer, a Norwegian blossom developer and also an uplifting Argentine home supervisor with each other right into an expansive 40-room French estate?
Well, you obtain “The Chateau Diaries,” the not likely YouTube quarantine struck that has actually made a celebrity of Stephanie Jarvis and also her family and friends.
Buying the estate
Fifteen years earlier, Jarvis was residing in London, despairing over the price of real estate and also grumbling regarding it to her friend (and also ex-boyfriend), Nic, when she understood just how reasonably affordable it was to get a rambling estate in France.
Stephanie Jarvis merged her sources with her ex lover and also chose to get an estate with him.
“For the price of my two-bedroom flat and Nic’s two-bedroom flat, we were able to buy this chateau. It was the same amount of money as the sale of those two. It’s completely insane,”Jarvis claims.
Jarvis had actually matured in a big house in England after her British dad and also French mom purchased a big nation estate and also commenced making it right into a house for Alzheimer’s people. Her moms and dads, both registered nurses, thought living in attractive environments would certainly be helpful for the people. So the Jarvis family members relocated right into the attic room and also put the people right into the major home listed below.
Flash-ahead a number of years and also Jarvis, after that 29 and also half-heartedly seeking a job in opera, determined she missed out on residing in a big, delighted house bordered by individuals. So she merged her sources with her ex lover and also chose to get an estate with him.
“For me, I just love being with loads and loads of people around me. There’s nothing I enjoy about the thought of living alone in a flat.”
Chateau de Lalande
Jarvis combed the French countryside for the ideal estate, one not as well near to significant highways however not as well much from crucial facilities (like cheese stores and also excellent second hand shops).
In a location not much from Limoges, she initially established eyes on the 16th century Chateau de Lalande. She recognized she was house.
A dashing ex lover … and also an evasive one
Though Jarvis purchased the estate with her ex lover, she obtained support (and also totally free labor) from her moms and dads and also her then-boyfriend, Michael Potts.
Potts, that was extremely motivating of his then-girlfriend getting an estate with her ex lover, just recently purchased right into the home, and also currently Chateau de Lalande is collectively had by the 3 of them.
While Jarvis invests much of the year at the estate, the various other 2 proprietors invest a considerable quantity of time away.
Stephanie and also Michael Potts, a co-owner, value on impulse nightclub events, James Bond evenings and also luxurious Versailles-influenced galas.
Nic, called “the elusive Nic” in the “Chateau Diaries,” normally steers clear of the limelight and also likes to not show up on video camera when Jarvis movies her vlog.
His partner, Marie, and also their boy, Antoine, function plainly on the vlogs, nonetheless, and also have actually come to be a cherished component of the unquiet actors of Lalanders that populate the estate. The family members resides in Belgium throughout the academic year, however are restoring a different apartment or condo in the estate.
They invest lengthy stretches at the estate over the summer season and also winter season vacations. They likewise chose to come through the pandemic there.
“I think it takes a very strong woman to be fine with your husband still owning something with his ex, especially when it’s not just a little something, when it’s this big part of your life, and in fact, I would say that Marie embraces it more than he does … It was [Marie] who said “Nic, we’re mosting likely to Lalande. We’re having it [the lockdown] there.’ “
Volunteers keep it running (and help plan elaborate costume parties)
Jarvis recruits an ever-changing group of volunteers who have skills in cooking, cleaning, gardening and landscape design.
Volunteers are helping Jarvis to restore the chateau; pre-pandemic, they helped her attend to the guests. Free room and board is offered in exchange for their work. And sometimes they just stay on indefinitely.
Norwegian volunteer Marie Wiik initially came to the chateau to help cook and design the occasional flower arrangement. Now she’s set up a large floral studio at the chateau and has gained her own impressive online following, showcasing her flower design.
Dutch tango instructor Selmar Duin showed up at Lalande just as the first lockdown hit France. He drove up to the chateau in his camper van, accompanied by his dog, Diesel. Initially shocked by his appearance (he’d been on the road and unaware Jarvis was locking down and no longer taking in her scheduled volunteers), his carpentry skills and ability to MacGyver solutions to the chateau’s problems proved so useful he has been officially hired.
Argentine Natalia “Nati” Oliveto was so capable as a volunteer she was hired to handle all guest reservations, house management and fan mail coming into the chateau.
Other volunteers help with elaborate table settings and decoration projects. Since Jarvis loves a theme party, volunteers need to have an appreciation for spur-of-the-moment disco parties, James Bond nights and extravagant Versailles-inspired galas.
Staying at the chateau
Before the lockdown, Jarvis’ main income came from renting out five rooms of the chateau as a bed and breakfast. She supplemented that with music workshops and other events 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.
In 2018, she began appearing in a UK reality series called “Escape to the Chateau Do It Yourself,” which features several Brits fixing up French chateaux. Her appearances on the show were a hit, and it inspired Jarvis to start her own YouTube channel, featuring other behind-the-scenes moments at Lalande. She taught herself to film and edit but the daily running the chateau didn’t leave a lot of time for her new hobby.
And then …
… the lockdown!
When the pandemic hit, Jarvis found herself in the perfect place to quarantine, with one big problem: Without paying guests, how would Jarvis pay the bills?
“Lockdown altered our company totally. It shut it down, entirely,” she says.
“But it really did not transform our life significantly since we’re a large house. And there’s a lot room, therefore much yard, that we really did not actually feel secured down in the manner in which some individuals have.”
Jarvis started filming more of her daily life during quarantine, sometimes posting as many as five half-hour videos a week.
“I’m so fortunate since it’s much easier for me to make a lot web content due to individuals around me. You understand, I can awaken in the early morning and also I’m mosting likely to stray about. I’ll ask Marie what she’s doing, I’ll ask Selmar what he’s doing, I’ll ask Dan the garden enthusiast what he’s doing, and after that I have the video clips. I’m fortunate, however that’s due to the others. If I was resting right here by myself, I would not have the ability to make 5 video clips a week.”
Jarvis’ fans have created an online community, who anxiously await each episode’s first live airing, and comment along during its initial broadcast.
“I assume I’ve been stunned by just how much having the ability to join our life has actually assisted some individuals, that were totally separated. Some ladies have actually been stating they have not seen anybody else given that March.”
Before the pandemic, Jarvis had about 10,000 followers. “I was delighted since I reached 10-thousand,” she says. Now she has surpassed 100-thousand followers.
She receives letters daily from grateful fans who say her videos have not only provided entertainment during the pandemic, but have also actually helped alleviate their depression.
Jarvis’ friends and families have become stars in their own right, being recognized in airports and stores across Europe. Her delightfully disapproving French mother, her adopted Scottish brother (usually attired in a dizzying ensemble of clashing plaids), and her new South African stepfather all have their own social media accounts and followers.
The much anticipated wedding of her mother (Jarvis’ father died in 2005) was turned into a “Midsummer Night’s Dream”-themed extravaganza, which aired on the reality show and featured in several of Jarvis’ blog.
Money Jarvis earns from Patreon is going toward fixing up the chateau’s chapel and restoring a now-drained historic lake on the property.
Earlier this year, Jarvis started accepting online donations through Patreon to help restore the chateau. Money she earns through the site is going toward fixing up the chateau’s chapel and restoring a now-drained historic lake on the property. (Disclosure: This writer contributed money after spending several lockdown days binge-watching her YouTube series.)
“Patreon has to do with $22,000 (USD) a month, which is totally life-altering. And I really did not release it till February, so this is given that February, it’s gone from absolutely no to $22,000 a month. It’s simply crazy.”
Jarvis is now able to tackle restoration work she didn’t know she’d ever get to.
Since that Patreon account is a nonprofit and all money can only be used for renovations, she now earns her personal income (and keeps the chateau running) via the money earned from her vlogs. “Which suggests that my YouTube advertisement profits maintains every person in food and also, allow’s encounter it, white wine,” she says.
Vlogging European culture
Jarvis’ vlog adventures are spotlighting an area of south-central France less known to tourists. Besides highlighting life in her chateau, there are trips to the nearby Limoges factory store and to local brocantes and thrift stores brimming with ridiculously cheap French fashion.
“Europeans take a trip a whole lot and also we’re actually guilty of not seeing our very own locations. We most likely to function day-to-day and after that we take place vacation. And we do not think of what’s around us. And I was actually guilty of that. Because of the vlog, I’ve found my town far more also.”
For now, Jarvis is happily hunkered down in her chateau for Christmas, celebrating each day of advent with a different vlog, and eagerly anticipating such Lalande traditions as the “Boxing Day Barbecue.”
She’s glad her videos have been enjoyed by so many people this year, and hopes others might consider saving a chateau, too.
“I assume French chateaus, they type of be worthy of to be a point, you understand? The incredible background … it would certainly be remarkable if individuals come and also begin to obtain enthusiastic regarding recovering them and also taking care of them.”