Monthly Archives: September 2009

Ground Floor

Even though we’re not even halfway through our renovations yet, we’d still like to take you on a tour. We’ll start at the ground floor, also known as the first floor.

We’d like you to know that all furniture in the Super Gîte is the latest of the latest. So if you’d like to have a really good and relaxing time without the feeling you’re staying 24/7 at a local brocante, this is the place! Tourteron is right in the heart of the French Champagne Ardennes and only three hours away from Utrecht.

What will the ground floor of this Super Gîte offer?

Floorplan Ground Floor

Floorplan Ground Floor

Dining: The ground floor is all about the ‘den’ feeling, letting groups or two families enjoy each other’s company to the max. The mill is designed to host at least eight people, but you can easily invite another four to the table. The modern dining table with the Panton Chairs gives this old corner of the house a contemporary atmosphere.

Kitchen: Being around friends means preparing good food, whether it’s an all-French breakfast, a light salad lunch, or an elaborate dinner. The Miele Design kitchen does contain all the necessary equipment, and with its bar on one side of the aisle, it will most certainly become the social centre of the house.

Laundry: You might not need to do the laundry when you are staying for a week. But if you have children or you’re planning to stay for a month, you’ll be delighted that the Super Gîte is equipped with washing machine and dryer.

Living: The perfect place to talk over the best things in life, share your dreams, that sort of thing. Think: 10 o’clock, the kids sound asleep, two glasses of scenting Bourgogne, and a fireplace for warmth and ambience.

Pantry: If you have stayed in an ordinary gîte before you know the feeling of missing things of your own: your best olive oil, your marmalade, the dried herbs you always use in your dishes. The Super Gîte has the answer! Returning visitors can ask for a locker to store small kitchen stuff and personal-care items. When you come back you’ll feel a bit more ‘at home’.

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First Floor & Second Floor

The first floor is for relaxation; sleeping, resting, reading, chatting, and browsing is what you can do here. This floor has three bedrooms, each for two people, plus a small library on the vestibule.

Floorplan First Floor

Floor Plan First Floor

Bath: Though we’re still not sure, we might have a solitaire bath tub in the middle of Bedroom 3. This is still an issue since it’s quite pricy. Also, who will use it and will it work fine situated in the middle of the room? The idea is cute: you can take a bath, read a magazine, or watch TV with a view over the courtyard on a hot summer day. But for now, each bedroom has its own bathroom with toilet, sink, shower, and towel heater.

Bedroom 1: The room straight in front of the living is called #1, the master bedroom. It’s quite spacious with its 53m2 and has windows with a view of the valley and orchard. Sleeping with the windows open means owls at night and the constant scatter of water coming from the fountain underneath the mill.

Bedroom 2: Although it will only have roof windows, this room will feel like a huge barn with its 48m2 and 6m height. We managed to open up the wooden construction of the mill in this room. There’s enough space for two single beds, and even more if you put them together–LOL.

Bedroom 3: This room is a bit different from the others. It doesn’t have the great robust stone walls. No reason to worry: this room does have its own romantic fireplace in the bedroom and its own entrance from the ramp. So you can get in and out of the house on this side without walking all the way down and around just to get into the front yard.

Library: The vestibule between the living room and the bedroom will be filled with books in Dutch, French, and English. There will be books on gardening, cooking, and art history as well as some good novels. Favorites: The Colored Garden, The River CaféEl Greco, and Michel Houellebecq.

Passage: The passage in between the rooms offers some sound reduction. You can also find the clean towels and bedding here, as well as a quiet place to work.

And then there is the second floor. It officially has the biggest room, since the thick stone wall doesn’t rise this high.

Floor Plan Second Floor
Floor Plan Second Floor

Bedroom 4: The biggest room of all (60m2) has its own little TV corner with bean bags and boxes with tons of toys. The ideal hangout for the kids who feel like they are in this great attic living their fantasies of fun and zero responsibility.

Office: There’s only one room locked in the whole Super Gîte and that’s the ‘office’ on this floor. We have to keep our toothbrushes somewhere. 🙂

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Hitting the first 1000

Reflets de France Cidre

Reflets de France Cidre

I’m really happy to see so many people reading the Super Gîtes Blog. Within three months we’re already hitting the first 1000! Amazing! I appreciate your interest in the blog, so whoever is Mr. or Ms. One Thousand: PLEASE reply to this post immediately and you’ll receive a bottle of Reflets de France Apple Cidre. If you are not from the Netherlands I’ll transfer you the value of a bottle of this cidre through Paypal. 🙂

Happy reading! Merci beaucoup!!


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CSI (Crime Scene Investigation)

When we arrived at the crime scene it was close to 10 a.m. We expected someone to be there, but the house was locked. We headed back to the car to pick up the keys and to grab our phone. “Why is nobody here?” we wondered. The builders should have been there working–they promised to start at 8:00. But there were no sounds of drilling or hammering; the property was deserted.

After Sara opened the door we were confronted with a scene of delict. Next to the stairs there was a broken cup, a splash of coffee, a smudge of blood, a trace of driblets, and a Stanley knife. Grissom said, “This can’t be right. Something’s missing.” We looked around and followed a small trail of blood to the locked front door. “The victim is still alive,” Grissom observed. He continued with his findings. “There must have been two people, as the door is locked without any smudging of blood. But where did the blood on the floor come from? Did the victim cut himself or was he attacked?” The Stanley knife did not look as if it had just been used–the blade was pulled back. I picked it up. “No blood on the knife,” I announced.

Grissom went up the stairs to investigate the situation. I followed him admiringly. “What if someone fell down, losing his mug, and fell onto something sharp like…?” I went over the movements. “Like a shard of mug?” “We only follow the facts!” Grissom said with certainty. “Assumptions have many shapes, reality only one.” Smart guy. I bucked up.

We needed to find Stephane or Jamal, his assistant. Either one should know what had happened. We walked up the hill to Stephane’s house and we ran into Arthur, a fairy-blond boy with deep blue eyes–the 7-year-old son of Stephane. I gave him my regular greeting, “Bonjour Arthur, çava?” “Bien merci,” came his weary reply. “Ou est ton papa?” I asked him. “Au l’hopital.” He answered without a wink and continued his play.

There are moments you just wish you could speak all languages of the world. D’accord. Stephane is at the hospital. Not good. The blood must be his.

To make a long story short, Stephane did fall off the stairs and cut his hand deeply. Jamal took him to the hospital in Reims where he had to stay for two days. He needed surgery since he’d cut himself quite deeply and hit a tendon. He can’t use his right hand for some time: the delay will be at least three weeks.

No igh Fives for Stephane.

No High Fives for Stephane.

“Oh well, we need to wait for the building permit anyway.”

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Selling French Fruit at the ‘Albert Cuyp’

I took a deep breath and walked to the Albert Cuyp Market in the heart of the Pijp Amsterdam. The world-famous street market is around the corner from my house. Since I’ve lived there (15 years now) I’ve bought my fruit and veggies at the same stand, Jopie’s, so now we  know each other. When I arrived at the market Jopie had just finished displaying his fruit for the day. I took him aside and told him about my lovely orchard and the surplus of pears and apples waiting in the back of my car.

Me: “Jopie, could you sell my fruit harvest? We can split the income.”
Jopie (with a wide smile): “Deal!”

Now at the Albert Cuyp!
Poire ‘Belle de Tourteron’ € 1,95 a kilo 🙂

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Eating nearby: “Great food, Fair price”

During the search for the Super Gite and the renovation of it we’ve spent many nights in a friendly chambre d’hôte 60 km from our mill. We drive up and down every day passing some cute villages on our way. One of them is Signy l’Abbaye, which is a bit more mundane  than most of the others (take note: the church is those villages is most significant building). The average town has five farms, two mansions, and one big church.

Signy l’Abbaye has a long history. It was founded around the 12 century,  and used to be famous for (what’s in a name?) its abbey. Nowadays it’s just a bit bigger and more appealing than the surrounding villages. It has some notable edifices, two nice bars, and at least one good restaurant mentioned in the Guide Rouge de Michelin.

A perfect entré for € 3,50

A perfect entré for € 3,50

That restaurant is Auberge de l’Abbaye, the Abbey Inn. 🙂

We found it by accident. We drove by around lunch time and thought: why not? Let’s try this humble, little place. To our surprise–and our delight–the food there was so tasty and cheap.

I mean, being Dutch and all that, we were impressed to find a quick lunch consisting of an entree and a main course for only 10 euro 40! Impossible, you think, but the selection on the menu is rich and impressive. You can pick from five starters and five main dishes. I chose the Wrapped Brie and a Chicken Soufflé.

This starter was perfect: crispy on the outside, and the brie inside lightly melted and warm. Unbeatable!

I like to cook, and I know about prices of the ingredients. So this starter of only 3 euro 50 is really a miracle.

We’ll certainly go back often, even though it’s around 30 km away. But distance is relative in a large country like France, as opposed to what we’re used to in the Netherlands.

Restaurant Auberge de l’ Abbaye, 2 pl. A. Briand F – 08460 Signy L Abbaye! +33 3 24 52 81 27
Closed 12 January-8 March – closed Tuesday dinner and Wednesday. Price: (12€) 14€ – Menu: 20€/38€

The same family has run this former post house since 1803. It upholds its traditions with a rustic decor and cuisine made with locally grown produce. Tasteful guestrooms.

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Merde disparu

When looking for a home in France, be aware that many houses are not connected to a public sewer system. Especially in the countryside, many houses have a fosse septic, a closed system where micro-organisms process the sewage inside the tank.

The mill had a small one hidden in the basement. It was just about big enough to support all waste water coming from a household of two people. Read: Two People! The previous owners didn’t really care about nature, I guess.  They sent all the grey water from the kitchen straight into the stream. We used this only one summer, and it made the stream run dirty within a month. 😦

But more important: our plans of having the house hold up to eight guests definitely required a bigger fosse septic. The worse thing is we had to meet the new rules for septic tanks (read).  They are not allowed indoors anymore. It has to go outdoors in the open field. But it gets worse: the only place possible for us is the court yard. And yet another new rule requires a drain field which you are not allowed to drive over.

But before we knew it, our contractor decided, arranged it, and had the paperwork done and ready to sign. One week later our old ‘merde’ disparu. Gone was the old septic tank, and in the basement we’ve room for a laundry room. WOW! So now we will have clean clothing–and a clean stream, too!


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