“I'd rather regret the things that I have done than the things that I have not.”
― Lucille Ball

Friday, July 23, 2010

Chambre d'hotes

When we returned from our latest house hunting activities in France on Wednesday 21 July, while driving in the direction of Paris, we were confronted with a disaster with our new second hand car, a BMW series 3.

First the indicator for battery charging went on, next the water temperature meter showed that we had a cooling problem and then I heard a loud bang. What I expected was indeed true, the belt was broken that drives the generator and the water pump. Later it was found out that the broken belt had also cut the water hose and severely damaged the water pump. So we were in big trouble, but fortunately it happened close to a patrol station at the A10 between Niort and Poitiers.

In France you call the " depannage", which is a network of certified car service garages. They send a truck that will transport your car to a local garage. In our case we went to Coulombier. The problem was investigated and a repair plan made. Earliest on Friday that week the car could be ready again, as they had to order next day some components.

So we had to find a place to sleep for a couple of nights. There were 2 options: the local hotel or a "chambre d'hotes". Of course we choose the second option. Not only because it is usually cheaper, but you get more personal attention and the place is often more attractive.

Indeed we were lucky. The owner Isabelle was willing to pick us up from the garage and she had still 1 twin room available for us for 2 nights. Remember the high season holiday period just started.

Her husband, a carpenter, had made their house suitable for this kind of business. It is basically the same as Bed & Breakfast as is known from other countries. But in France you need to comply to many rules of the organization called "Gites de France" that rules, organizes, controls, etc. this kind of business.

What I learned from Isabelle is that a "Chambre d'hotes" is meant for one or a limited number of nights like a "bed & breakfast" service and is cheap, while a "Gites" is a service where you rent a room or (part of) a house for a period of say 1 or more weeks, usually with a number of people. It seems t be more expensive, but I have no experience with this service.

It turned out that Isabelle had designed our room with only one theme in mind: FROG. Everything was related to the frog. The colors, the bed sheet, the bathroom, really all.
I must say her husband had done a perfect job. The room was excellent, the bathroom well done, the hot water supply much better than in many expensive hotels I have visited in Europe and Asia.

Next day we went to another small neighboring village called Lusignan. Isabelle brought us there, to the super market, and would pick us up the end of the day. So we couls spent our time in this nice village with an old church and castle (medieval period I guess), a small river down the hill, a camping place and a roman like railway bridge, that was used by the TGV as well.

Many thanks to Isabelle for her help. If you are around between Niort and Poitiers and need a room for a night, please drop by and say hello from us.

The Web address is:Chambre d'hotes: La Verrerie


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