11 October 2011

Signs and symbols

If you want to see what a real French house is like, rent a gîte rural. But rent it from French owners, not foreigners. What you'll see is the authentic decorating style. The authentic appliances. The authentic furnishings. It's always an interesting experience. You pay less, too.

There are three Vesselle wineries in Bouzy:
Alain, Georges, and Maurice own them.

That's why I say I wasn't fundamentally disappointed with the house we rented in Bouzy. It was comfortable, and it was inexpensive. Leaving the dog out of the equation, we each paid 105 euros, or about 150 U.S. dollars, for our four-night stay there. That's less than $40 per night per person.

The view from in front of the town hall,
down one of Bouzy's main streets

The house was large. The description said it was 180 square meters — that's about 2000 square feet. There were three good-size bedrooms, and a very large kitchen. One bedroom didn't get used at all. There were two toilets — one up and one down. The shower had good water pressure, and we never ran out of hot water. The refrigerator was big enough. The oven worked.

Chez Alain Vesselle...

We took our own sheets and towels — they are often not provided and since people usually drive to their gîte, they can easily bring their own. We could have chosen to rent sheets from the landlady for six euros per bed, but we didn't need to.

...and the place next door

We didn't need to turn on the heat, but it was included in the price of the rental. Some gîte owners will charge extra for heat, or will give ask you to pay extra for electricity over a certain amount consumed. I remember a gîte we rented in Vouvray 10 years ago. On check-out, I told the owner that we had probably used a lot of electricity. She checked the meter, and said yes, you certainly did. I expected the worst. The surcharge came to 12 dollars for the week.

On the edge of town...

One afternoon in Bouzy, I went out for a walk by myself and took pictures of whatever I thought was interesting. As I've said, the town in not genteel and fancy — it's more agricultural, with warehouses and wine-production facilities. Champagne is an agricultural product. In Bouzy, you sometimes feel the town's glory days are behind it. But the price of champagne keeps going up. Internationally, demand is high. In the town, you'd never know it.


  1. Champagne is a region that we've yet to explore. One day.
    We're heading to Normandy next week and have rented a gîte, as we always do, because of the dogs. I love having a kitchen and a "home base" when we travel.

  2. I love those signs. I'm a fan of good signs :)

    Ken, were the owners of this gîte French, or not?

  3. Oh, Ken, I meant to tell you that one of my students is doing Tartiflette for her French recipe presentation! I gave them links to a few online sources for recipes, and one of them was MeilleurDuChef, linked right to that recipe (I think that perhaps it's the link you put in your blog post?). After she browsed through other recipes, I finally said, "Why don't you just do this wonderful recipe?" And so she is!

  4. We've rented gites through Gites de France for over 20 years, and have almost never been disappointed. Although the furnishings are often pretty rustic, and sometimes very tacky, they've always been exceedingly clean, and the kitchen equipment is generally fine, with the somewhat strange exception of wine glasses. So sometimes we've gone and bought wine glasses. But I don't think we've ever been truly disappointed. You just have to realize that you will rarely, if ever, get luxury accomodations.

  5. It's nice that you were able to walk around a little village. Gites are my favorites since I love seeing other people's "things".

    Judy, what sort of cheese will be in the tartiflette? That recipe looks yummy.

  6. That first sign is a beauty!

  7. Judy, the owners were French for sure. Tartiflette can be very good. Like Evelyn, I wonder what cheese your student will use.

    Loulou, hope you have a good time in Normandy.

    Bob R., you are right on. You can't be afraid to go out and buy a sharp knife or some glasses or whatever when you stay in a gîte rural. That's part of the fun.

    Ginny, I enjoyed Bouzy and Champagne, but I'm happy to live here in Touraine.

  8. C'est la France profonde, oui? Like Loulou, we like having a home base. We sleep better, and it's fun to come "home," however temporary it is.

  9. Renting a gîte in the country is like renting an apartment in the city, you always get a better deal than a hotel.

  10. Ken and Evelyn, what cheese do you suggest? I was wondering the same thing. She isn't required to make it, anyway (that part is extra credit)... she just has to do an oral presentation on the steps to make it, with pictures :)

  11. Judy, the cheese for Tartiflette is usually Reblochon, from the Alps. Can you find that in St. Louis? Otherwise, you could recommend Cantal or even white Cheddar, or some other cheese which melts into a liquid rather than stringy state.


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