Saturday we made a six hour drive from Turin, Italy to the little village of Change in the Burgundy region of France. Since it was a relatively long drive, we stuck to the major roads which were generally toll roads. And the French are mighty proud of their toll roads as it cost nearly $100 in tolls for the trip. The region we crossed on the Italy/France border was mountainous with some snow still on the mountains. While the highway engineers in the U.S. seem to avoid tunnels, the Europeans seem to tunnel right through anything that gets in their way. It seemed at least a third of the route through the mountains was in tunnels. The sightseeing in the tunnel is not very good, but it is fast and direct. The most expensive toll was when we entered France where we had to pay nearly fifty dollars for about ten minutes of two lane tunnel followed by another ten minutes of two lane road with maintenance delays.
It was my first experience driving in a country where I couldn’t read any of the road signs. I soon learned that when I saw “gare” in a sign, I was approaching a toll booth. Susan manned the tickets, coins, bills, and credit card and you needed all of these to successfully navigate the variety of toll booths. Whenever I saw “aire” in the sign, I knew we were approaching a rest stop and there was one about every twenty miles. Some of them were very large with restaurants, hotels, picnic spots, and round-abouts. I hope there was nothing important on the other signs!
We are staying in an old farm house in the very small village of Change. The house was built in the late 1800’s as a former winemakers home. The bottom of the house was a “cave” for storing the wine. It was purchased in 1998, restored over many years, and rented out as a “gite” starting in 2007. The present owner purchased it in 2014 and is continuing the gite tradition. A gite is simply a house that the owner rents. I believe there are some tax advantages since the rentals encourage tourism in the area. To say that we are enjoying the house is a gross understatement.
This is the road we live on. Our house is the one on the far left.
Le Pigeonnier. Yes, that is our BMW in the front, an Avis “economy” car. The large doors on the lower level are the entrance to the cave.
The garden in the front courtyard. We go up the steps to the right to get to the entrance.
A small breakfast terrace off the dining room overlooks the front courtyard.
There is an old water pump in the front courtyard.
One outdoor dining option.
Another outdoor dining option.
This pigeon house, which is no longer in use, gives the home its name.
We even have our own small pool!
And this building is our wellness center with a stationary bike, a sauna, and a shower.
The house is just as nice inside with a gourmet kitchen, nice artwork, historic memorabilia, and all appliances you would expect except for a freezer. It even comes equipped with mountain bikes and a biking trail passes nearby. It is extremely quiet with only the sounds of birds, a rooster, and distant church bells. I feel sure we are the only tourists in town. Best of all, on a weekly basis, it is the least expensive place we have stayed this trip. The area is beautiful and our first restaurant meal was fantastic. We love it here!