House Sitting in Zurich and Southwest France

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Chaley style house with snowy mountain backdrop
Lauterbrunnen, Switzerland

January 2018 has been a full-on month of housesitting.

We said our goodbyes to our two boys and daughter-in-law, Jess, who joined us for Christmas and New Year in Zurich.

We’ve had a month of car troubles while exploring new places. We’ve caught up with friends and taken another road trip.

Having two new housesitting assignments gave us many opportunities for day trips to visit new places and learn more about European history.

For January, we have enjoyed housesits in:

  • Zurich
  • Fontenoy le Chateau (short stay with homeowners)
  • Felines-Minervois

Housesitting is our Nomadic Travel Lifestyle

Housesitting is the reason why we can travel longer on our budget.

We love the freedom housesitting gives us to make furry friends while we explore the area around the housesit.

And when we have a break from housesitting, we can explore more of Europe on short breaks.

And if you want to learn more about our story, then you can click here on TravelKiwis.

If you are ready to sign up for Trusted Housesitters, they have a 25% discount on your membership.


Housesitting in Zurich has lots of options

Lady with two dogs
Housesitting in Zurich

Our month-long Zurich housesit looking after Valentino and Diego went from mid-December to the 10th of January.

While the weather wasn’t the best, it was winter, and the grey and bleak days meant we explored less than we would have liked. But our car also developed some unexpected problems limiting our travelling.

We have to say a big “thank-you” to our lovely homeowners who were enthusiastic is allowing our kids to stay over Christmas and New Year.

Daniel and Jess are from the UK, and Richard is from New Zealand.

It’s always great catching up and hearing new stories from them all. Exploring new places and countries together. And trying new things like ice skating. Jess was the best, while the rest of us trailed along behind her.

Church all lit up
An evening in Zurich’s old town

Housesitting in Zurich is expensive.

Well, if you don’t know, Zurich is the third most expensive city in the world.

It’s one of the reasons we loaded the car with dry foods before leaving France to keep us within our travel budget.

We found the public transport within Zurich overpriced. It was cheaper for the two of us to drive into the city and park.

Bread and milk were reasonably priced, but eating out was a treat.

So when we discovered the brakes on the car needed replacing, and the quote was for €1500, we definitely needed a whiskey. We bought it for the same amount, so do we sell it or fix it?

We found a solution for the same repair for €700, requiring a 40-minute drive across the border to Germany.

Catching up with a Travel buddy

Covered bridge crossing a river
Holzbrucke Bridge crossing the Limmat River, Baden, Switzerland

During our month in China in 2016, we explored by ourselves and with a GAdventures tour group. It was on the tour we met Lukas, who lives in Baden, 20 minutes from Zurich.

And by staying in touch with the tour group after it ended, we could meet up for a long lunch and chat with Lukas.

Some Highlights of Staying in Zurich

If you are looking for a base in Switzerland, Zurich has access to many places for day trips within an hour or so.

You can even spend the day in Austria, France, Germany or Liechtenstein.

Our housesit in Zurich meant we could take some day trips to places like:

  • Zug
  • Baden
  • Lucerne
  • Konstanz, Germany
  • Rhein Falls – the largest waterfall in Europe

While travelling to and from our Zurich housesit, we stopped at:

  • Basel
  • Bern
  • Lucerne
  • Lauterbrunnen
Old town next to a river
The Untertorbrucke Bridge crossing the Aare River, Bern, Switzerland


Waterfall freezing as it drops
Staubbachfall, Lauterbrunnen, Swizterland – The water freezes as it falls


Waterfall over rocks
Rheinfalls, Switzerland, and Germany


Mountains with snow
The scene of the drive back from Zug to Zurich

Overnight stay at Fontenoy le Chateau.

Our stop, this time in Fontenoy, had us featured in one of the local newspapers.

Maryse, who attends a weekly English class in the village, stopped by to learn more about our travelling lifestyle.

So it was no surprise when the English class that evening was a question and answer on our lifestyle and New Zealand.

We have to say, the group’s English was very good. It was a lovely evening finished off with wine and a galette.

Joining in the New Year’s French celebration

We had previously enjoyed galettes eaten in St Malo, France.

But this galette was sweet, similar to a pie and filled with frangipani, but with a hidden surprise.

Whoever is lucky enough to find the little doll in their piece of the pie is crowned the King or Queen (a crown is included in the packaging).

The galette is a tradition for the visitation of the Three Kings, which is celebrated in early January.

Newspaper article
Newspaper article on Travelkiwis
English class in Fontenoy le Chateau


A Road Trip to Southwest France

Following our stay at Fontenoy le Chateau, we headed south to our next housesit in Felines-Minervois, southern France.

Having a few days before the housesit started, we chose a few stops on the way:

  • Dijon
  • Clermont-Ferrand
  • Beziers

This road trip would avoid the French road tolls and let us see more of France.

Old building and church
Dijon, France, is more than great mustard.
Long bridge across farmland
Millau Viaduct in France
Looking across the river to the Church
The Pont Vieux and Cathedrale Saint-Nazaire, Beziers


Housesitting in the wine area of Felines-Minervois

Trees, stone town and bridge
The town of Minerve

Our next housesit was a first for us, looking after more than two cats, six in fact.

So it was a learning curve watching their habits, giving them lots of cuddles, and feeding them at various times throughout the day and night.

Looking after cats vs dogs means you have more flexibility with your time to explore the region you are visiting.

We first noticed the Minervois region’s flat plains of vineyards, the wind, and how much the terrain reminded us of Spain.

We felt quite at home when we saw the windmills and the wind turbines scattered about the hills. It reminded us of our region Wellington, in New Zealand.

But we also discovered the region is home to a large rugby following, with the All Blacks having played rugby in this area.

Four cats on sofas
Looking after Chloe, Tutts, Sweetie Pie, Max, Minnie, and Sylvester


Woman in front of old windmill
Windmill in Felines-Minervois

Felines-Minervois is about halfway between Toulouse and Montpellier.

The area is so interesting because of its Cathar history, the Canal du Midi and many UNESCO sites.

Some of the best places we visited were:

  • Caunes-Minervois
  • Toulouse
  • Carcassonne
  • Minerve
  • Narbonne


Why we love Housesitting for travel

Castle view lookking across the river and the bridge
The castle of Carcassonne

Housesitting is our way to travel so we can experience the local way of life and see many less visited places.

Zurich was a city to explore, and the area surrounding ake Zurich. And we got to buy lots of chocolate at the Lindt chocolate factory.

We drove over the famous Millau Viaduct on a road trip from Switzerland to southwest France.

We stopped when we wanted at small villages for fabulous croissants and coffee.

And for a few hours a couple of times a week, we explore the areas around our housesitting assignments.

More adventures are to come with a new house-sitting assignment in Montpellier.

But first, it’s a 10-day road trip from France to Spain, including Andorra.


  1. Maryse Doux-Boussiron says:

    Hello Maura and Terry !
    Last tuesday, Roger had a peper copy of your post on your stop in Fontenoy !
    He read it to us and then we talked about it !
    It was nice to see our photo sharing the galette … So, w’re now known all over the world ! May be bakers will be asked for galettes ….
    Are you still in Felines-Minevois ??? Must be a little warmer there ! Weather is becoming quite cold at the moment -not that much snow here, even very little- but definitly cold !

    • TravelKiwis says:

      Hi Maryse One of the things we love about out travels is experiencing local life and we really enjoyed the English lesson class. We are now in Montpellier for a month and the weather is somewhat warmer, but there is a lot more wind than in Fontenoy. Looking forward to catching up with you all again soon. Maura and Terry

  2. Maryse Doux-Boussiron says:

    It’s been a few days since I had a look at your site …
    How nice to be in a warm climate !
    Here it’s really cold (under 0° celsius) at night and a bit warmer during day time, but still cold .
    My hot water bottle is in full job !

    • TravelKiwis says:

      Well it looks like it will be cooler again next week. Winter is still here, we will also go under 0C brrr. But we are having some sunny days, that helps. There are some lovely places here including Nimes, Punt du Gard and Aigures-Mortes. We hope to go to Arles and Marseille soon, they also look nice. Keep warm, Maura & Terry

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