Tales from

the Loir

A Weekly Column

March 20, 2002 - A Home in the Hills

Furman Magazine
Summer 2001

A Home in the Hills

William and Aprille Glover have found their dream existence-in a cave in France.
By John Roberts

In 1973, William Glover had reached a crossroad in his life.
Having graduated from Furman in 1968 and completed a two-year stint in the Army, he had jus finished law school at the University of South Carolina and passed the bar. AT 26, he was about to embark on his professional career.
But before tacking his law degree to the office wall, updating his wardrobe, ordering business cards and opening a new chapter in his life, Glover did what most young adults, given the time and resources would like to do.
He took an extended vacation in Europe.
For six months, Glover and a friend toured the Continent, visiting cathedrals, museums and dozens of tourist attractions. But Glover, who had studied French at Furman, was especially taken with the rolling French countryside, its friendly people and relaxing lifestyle.
“One day,” he said to himself, “I’m going to live here.”
After the sojourn, Glover returned to his native St. Simons Island, Ga., and began his legal career, eventually moving his practice to Jacksonville, Fla. As the years passed, though, the quaint villages of the French countryside occupied a serene corner in his mind. During Particularly stressful periods at work, he would seek refuge there. Living in France was his dream, as he often confessed to his wife, Aprille.
In 1998, four years after the couple were married, Glover says that Aprille “lost patience with me. She told me to make a decision or stop talking about it all the time.”
The couple had no children or other obligations to keep them in the States, so they decided to make the move. Within a few months, Glover, then 52, and his wife had sold his office, packed up a few belongings and moved to France. The couple settled in Lavardin, a tiny village nestled in the Loire Valley, 50 miles southwest of Paris. William had visited the village 25 years before.
But Glover’s is more that a story about a middle-aged man who decided to move out of his comfort zone and chase a dream.
It’s a story about a couple living in a cave.
Yes, a cave. And a man who wrote a book about it.
Most American might assume that a cave would make a damp, dark, dismal dwelling. And for the most part, they’d be right. But some caves in France are quite hospitable and even offer spectacular views.
Glover explains that during the 14th and 15th centuries the hills in southwest France were quarried for stone. Before the invention of concrete, the hard, limestone-like rock in the hills of the Loire Valley was sought-after construction material.
In mining the rock, workers left the hills riddled with caves, Some are just a few feet deep, but other extend 20 miles or more.
“There are thousands of caves around here. It’s like Swiss cheese, really,” says Glover with a laugh.
Although some cave near Lavardin are occupied throughout the year, most of the habitable ones are used for wine storage. Others have developed into weekend retreats.
The Glovers had never considered cave life until, while they were shopping for a cottage in Lavardin, a real estate agent suggested that they consider it. Out of curiosity, they followed the agent to a cave that rented for $200 a month.
William had his doubts. The space, about 750 square feet was dark and seemed to be in disrepair. But Aprille, a professional sculptor, could see its potential. As Glover recalls, “She stood in the middle of the room and said, “Here or nowhere.”
Glover estimates that his cave was created about 400 years ago. It was formerly used for making wine.
“In the back of the cave is an old pressoir [a device used to press the grapes used to make wine]. The grapes would sit in a square vat area that we have converted to a little den,” he says.
The walls of the cave, arched to support the weight of the earth above, are white-washed, and the entrance actually floods the cave with light for most of the day. The dwelling has all the conveniences of a conventional home—electricity, water, sewer, even Internet and cable television hook-up.
As the Glovers settled into their cozy new home, William began e-mailing friends about his new lifestyle. At first, no one believed him—until he sent photographs to prove it.
Soon Glover was sending regular e-mail missives to friends and relatives, describing his new home and life, The notes were popular, and he was deluged with requests by friends and acquaintances who wanted to be on the distribution list. By the time the list surpassed 500 names and a new reporter from CNN asked to be included, Glover realized he had something that could be marketed.
The developed a Web site and wrote a book, Cave Life in France: Eat, Drink, Sleep, which was published in January. The book—part wine tutorial, part restaurant guide and travelogue—tells of how he has adapted to cave life and of his rowing friendship with his neighbors. Aprille provided the illustrations (and also designed the Web site, www.cavelife.net).
Glover says it’s too early to tell how well the book has been accepted. But the Web site, which feature weekly columns, a virtual tour of his cave and other related links, averages about 200 hits a day. He’s currently working on his second book, which relates his experiences while hiking along the Loir River.
Glover doesn’t expect his books to land on the Now York Times bestseller list. But because he is an American citizen without a work permit, Glover cannot practice law in France. So he hopes the income form this writing and other projects will help to finance his new life.
This is like a dream existence for us,” says Glover. “We are going to stay as long as we can.”

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March 13, 2002 - Tête de Veau
March 6, 2002 - Table Etiquette
February 27, 2002 - A Country Boy Can Survive
February 20, 2002 - Driving in France
February 13, 2002 - The Circus
February 6, 2002 - History of France
January 30, 2002 - THE BEST I EVER HAD
January 23, 2002 - Miranda This
January 16, 2002 - Charlotte Observer Interview
January 9, 2002 - Walnut Wine
January 2, 2002 - Sloe Gin
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, 2001 - 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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