With its twin outside staircase and arched entrances, the Chateau de Bellevue was one of the most eye-catching sights in Yvrac, a wine-making village nestling among the famous vineyards of Bordeaux.
Beautiful, but tired and in need of repair when bought by Dmitry Stroskin, a Russian millionaire, the chateau received a renovation permit and was due to be restored to its former glory.
The Chateau de Bellevue was Yvrac's pride and joy. The whole village is in shock. How can this construction firm make such a mistake?
Instead, it was razed by a Polish building firm. Workmen were supposed to demolish only a separate smaller building in the grounds of the estate, but that is the only one still standing.
Villagers are furious about the "accident" and local authorities have opened an investigation.
According to the French newspaper Sud-Ouest, Mr Stroskin, who runs an import business in Warsaw, said: "I had no idea the chateau had been destroyed. I'm in shock." He said he had spent years scouring the area for his ideal French chateau and "fell in love" with Bellevue. "Even if it was in a very bad way, I wanted to renovate it," he said.
The businessman said he understood the anger among local residents, but said he will not be prosecuting the builders for their mistake. "The damage has been done," Mr Stroskin said.
He has promised to "rebuild an identical Bellevue" including the chateau's grand hall, which could host up to 200 people. A Polish architect has already drawn up plans and local masons have received a 1.5 million euro ($1.9 million) contract to rebuild it over two years.
But villagers believe it was more than an innocent mistake. "This wasn't a slip of a digger, it was done on purpose," one told the M6 television channel.
Claude Carty, the mayor of Yvrac, has ordered all work on the site to be stopped while an investigation takes place. Local authorities have also lodged a complaint over a breach of the town's building code with prosecutors.
The former owner, Juliette Marmie, said: "The Chateau de Bellevue was Yvrac's pride and joy. The whole village is in shock. How can this construction firm make such a mistake?
"We sold it in good faith after Mr Stroskin showed us very detailed plans he had had drawn up with interior decoration respecting the 18th century style, and that's what we expected him to do. We are totally thunderstruck and don't know what to think. It was a very beautiful place. It needed some work done to it, not to be knocked down."
The Telegraph, London