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 lots of opportunities for day trips to visit some new places and learn more about European history.
For January, we have enjoyed housesits in:
- Fontenoy le Chateau (short stay with homeowners)
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.
Housesitting in Zurich has lots of options
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 is 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.
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. It was the same amount we bought it for 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
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:
- Konstanz, Germany
- Rhein Falls – the largest waterfall in Europe
While travelling to and from our Zurich housesit, we stopped at:
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 celebrated in early January.
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:
This road trip would avoid the French road tolls and let us see more of France.
Housesitting in the wine area of Felines-Minervois
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.
The first thing we noticed about the Minervois region was the 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 large rugby following, with the All Blacks having played rugby in this area.
Felines-Minervois is about halfway between Toulouse and Montpellier.
The area is so interesting for its Cathar history, the Canal du Midi and many UNESCO sites.
Some of the best places we visited were:
Why we love Housesitting for travel
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.
Taking a road trip from Switzerland to southwest France, we drove over the famous Millau Viaduct.
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 to come with a new housesitting assignment in Montpellier.
But first, it’s a 10-day road trip from France to Spain, including Andorra.