Category Archives: Tourism

“Genius is the recovery of childhood at will.”

Arthur Rimbaud at the age of seventeen by Étie...

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People who know me in person could think it’s a quote by me. It’s not though. It is by the French poet Arthur Rimbaud (1854 – 1891), born in Charleville. As part of the decadent movement, Rimbaud influenced modern literature, music and art. He was known to have been a libertine and quite restless, traveling extensively on three continents before his death from cancer.

I love this quote as it stands for a fearless, open minded, free and (un)controlled state of mind, being close to yourself and not bothered by convention or opinion. Especially the ‘at will’ is interesting because it reflects the power of the mind to provoke / create.

Rimbaud (age 17) began a short and torrid affair with Paul Verlaine, also a poet but 27 and Continue reading

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Looking for a super gîte?

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A gîte  is a French holiday home that is available for rent. Gîtes are usually fully furnished and equipped for self-catering. Many owners choose to handle their own rentals, and you can find these by searching online on the multitude of listing sites or by checking with the local tourist information office. [wikipedia]

A gîte is generally an old farmworkers’ cottage or converted outbuilding. This type of holiday accommodation is sometimes regarded as ‘basic’ in terms of facilities; however, some gîtes will have excellent facilities. Now that called a super gîte.

This blog tells the story behind the first Supergîte; on how we got there and how we’re doing today. Happy reading.

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Snow Chains in the Ardennes

Snow chain at the front wheel. Photographer: D...
Image via Wikipedia

A winter landscape is beautiful. White slopes with bare trees scattered around like chocolate icing. The picture looks completely like a perfect Christmas card. But being is this picture is less romantic. It’s cold. It’s slippery. It’s dangerous. Renters ask us if they need snow chains (sneeuwkettingen) in the French Ardennes. Hell yeah!

With snow the Belgian and French roads are not clean. Most of the snow is frozen to the surface and the tracks are reduced to one single lane no matter how many there are underneath the 5 centimeters of thick and slippery grey mass. Driving the roads in these conditions is not much fun. And climbing the slopes that look so beautiful on the picture is all of a sudden a dangerous mission.

This situation is not just the case with the cute little white roads on the map or the so-called D roads. Even the European highway E411 between Brussels and Luxembourg turns into an 180km long ice skating track. All along the road you see the poor victims of this winter horror. Abandoned trucks and cars, slid from the road.

Sliding at high speed is just stupid. Sliding off the road at slow speed is just unnecessary. Snow tires are great when the roads are wet and snowy. Snow chains are the only thing that gets you to the bakery on a winter day in the Ardennes. Be prepared.

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Tasting real Champagne

Our favorite

When I say champagne you say Bollinger, Canard-Duchêne, Kruger, Perrier, Mercier, Moët & Chandon, Mumm, Piper-Heidsieck, Pommery, or Taittinger. But did you know there are over 2,000 champagne producers? We visited a few in the Champagne region  to find the right bubbles for Supergîtes.

Some of the larger houses offer a grand tour through the factory and a ‘free’ drink afterwards. But don’t be mislead: by paying for the tour (€10 to 15 euros) you already paid generously for that drop of champagne. Other smaller houses offer free tasting but expect you to buy afterwards.

It’s basically not easy to buy at a smaller house. The smaller producers are all family owned for decades and a bit reserved (or reluctant as you wish) to offer a tasting and hoping you will buy a car load of champagne. Probably most tourists do drink and drive and leave the poor wine farmer an empty bottle AND empty pockets. That’s so not us. 🙂

A proper Champagne tour starts at Epernay at the Avenue de Continue reading

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The French Ardennes in a Dutch nut shell

home made travel guide

You can always escape the comfort of the water mill and take a tour. To help decide what to do i wrote this small and very personal travel guide. There’s a printed version at the location to take with you on your journey. Here you will have to coop with the abstract feeling of turning virtual pages.

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No TV?

Television icons
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In the final week of working hard to get things right (or just done), at a certain point you just have to make decisions. Nasty ones. You have to choose between the must-have and nice-to-have. And that’s not an easy job. One says he really thinks curtains are essential, the other claims to die without TV. Do we really need that door between the two basements? or do we put our energy in finding the right furniture? It’s constantly putting pressure on the working relationship because you’re just so tired you really don’t care what the other says or even about the arguments. All space evaporated. But what to do … you have to go on. Continue reading

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A first Super night in our own Gîte

After 11 months of hard work, miles of traveling to and from France, laboring the garden and sanding the wood it was finally the moment that the beds arrived. We worked double shifts in the last weeks to get everything ready to install the beds immediately at their final place. The beds are huge and heavy, 100% natural material and fairtrade produced .. besides that they are gorgeous looking …

We had to wait all this time not because of the production but because of our own delay. The whole renovation took more time than estimated due to several reasons. You can read about them in the blog.

But this was THE day .. the day followed by the first night in our own Supergite, sleeping in our brand new beds.  Continue reading

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