Tales from

the Loir

A Weekly Column

January 16, 2002 - Charlotte Observer Interview

A cave in France makes a cozy home

Foreign Correspondence is a weekly interview with someone who has lived in a spot you may want to visit.

We spoke with William Glover, a 55-year-old from Jacksonville, Fla.,living in west-central France with his wife, Aprille. He has a new book - 'Cave life in France" ($14.95, Writers Digest Publishing - about his life there. The Glovers have indeed been living in a cave since October,1998.

Travel Editor

Q. OK. Just why are you living in a cave in France?
A. I came here for vacation, liked this area, and brought my wife back. She liked it too, and we began looking for a small farm or other place to live. This area has these "maisons troglodytes" -cave houses - everywhere. My wife saw one and wanted to live in one.

Q. What's your area like?
A. This is the Loir Valley, and the Loir River that runs through it is north of the famous Loire River, which it flows into. We live near small villages and small towns. Tours, 30 miles south, is probably the biggest town around. We're about 50 miles southwest of Paris.

Q. You see many Americans?
A. Hardly ever in this area, though in Tours you do. That's in the big "chateau country." The caves, where we are, are more of a novelty attraction for the French. A lot of French come from Paris to look around.

Q. Do you rent your cave?
A. Yes. We may buy someday, but for $200 a month rent, we're in no big hurry. Rents in conventional houses are probably a little more, but not a whole lot more. Rents in this part of France are pretty inexpensive.

Q. What does your cave look like?
A. It actually has two rooms, with a bathroom in the back. This was an old winemaking cave, so in back is an old pressoir - a device used to press the grapes used to make the wine. The grapes would sit in a square vat area that we converted to a little den or conversation pit. We have electricity, water, sewer - all the conveniences you'd have in any home. We're actually wired for cable TV, though we don't have it. With an antenna, you can get three or four stations in the cave.

Q. You have windows?
A. Yes, a nice big one. Our place is like a beachfront condo, with all the windows on one side. One difference is that all the openings are arched, to give the rock more support. And with a cave, of course, you have no straight lines. Everything is chipped; nothing has a definite geometric shape. You can see it at our Web site: www.cavelife.net.

Q. Can you hang stuff on the walls?
A. Yes. You just take a nail and pound it in. All these caves were originally quarries; what was taken out was used to build the large chateaux. The rock is a little like limestone: It becomes harder after it's exposed to air.

Q. How old is your cave?
A. About 300 years, people have told me, judging from the wine-press equipment. We have one big fireplace toward the front that's in the shape of one cut in the 17th century. It's so big that you can stand in it. About 300 years ago, that's how people cooked.

Q. Is it damp?
A. Some caves are damp. Ours is dry because we're on a cliff face high above the river. It wants to be about 60 degrees inside, and because it has no leaks except for the chimney, it's fairly easy to heat. My wife is a sculptor and has a studio in an old factory building. It's drier and has more space.

Q. How close is your cave to other caves?
A. They're right next to each other. About 300 years ago, they guess, all the caves were connected. Ours was used for wine; the one next to it may have been used as a stable for horses or sheep or as an outbuilding. Ours goes back probably 60 feet. Some go for miles into the mountain.

Q. Do you get strangers dropping by?
A. Quite a few in summer. This is a tourist town and is designated as one of the most beautiful villages in France. The goat path near our cave is a real tourist attraction.

Q. Are there any caves where you can get a room for a couple days?
A. I think there's a hotel in a cave in Tours.

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January 9, 2002 - Walnut Wine
January 2, 2002 - Sloe Gin
 December 26, 2001 - Winter Solstice
December 26, 2001 - Winter Solstice
December 19, 2001 - Relais d’Antan
December 12, 2001 - Winter Foods
 December 5, 2001 - Steak and Kidney Pudding
 November 28, 2001 - Pigs III
 November 21, 2001 - Pigs II
 November 14, 2001 - Pigs
 October 31, 2001 - The Ghost of Chateau Chevre
 October 25 - Battle of Poitiers
 August 22, 2001 - Confrerie
 August 15, 2001 - Liberation
 August 8, 2001 - Le Cyclop
 August 1, 2001 - The Finger
July 25, 2001 - La Resistance
July 18, 2001 - System D
July 11, 2001 - The Accident
July 4, 2001 - Ange Pitou
June 27, 2001 - Feu de Saint Jean
June 20, 2001 - Geoffroy Martel
June 13, 2001 - Saint of the Day
June 6, 2001 - Escapade dans le Berry
May 30, 2001 - Learning French
May 23, 2001 - Pete and Manny
May 16, 2001 - Les Journees des Aubepines
May 8, 2001 - Armistice Day
May 2, 2001 - May Day
April 25, 2001 - Les Manouches
April 18, 2001 - Trôo
April 11, 2001 - Le P'tit Jules
April 4, 2001 - Men and Their Caves 
Archive of Weekly Columns Jan-Apr 2001
Archive of Weekly Columns from 2000


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