Housesitting Road Trip: Month in Review

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W woman in jeans and red top hanging off a sculpture on a lake
Vevey, Lake Geneva, Switzerland

Following our wonderful month of house-sitting in Putney, London, we flew back to Nice in the south of France. With French rail choosing our day of arrival for a strike, we took the shuttle from the airport to the bus station at Saint Raphael to collect our car.

Our next stop was Callas, where we stayed with Yvonne and Bryn (her lovely border collie) for a couple of nights.

Yvonne suggested dinner out at The Cave, one of the village restaurants. The food, of course, was superb. It’s probably one of the reasons we will be back to Callas for a house sit in October and Christmas to look after Bryn, Maggie, the “laid-back” cat and Rouge, the ginger tom, a new addition to the pet family.

If you’re ready to go housesitting, we have some deals for you:

  • For a 25% membership discount for Trusted Housesitters, click here to sign up.
  • For Aussies Housesitters, use code 79FQ5L for $10 off your membership.

Housesitting Road Trip in Europe: What’s Possible

Our next house sit was Fontenoy-le-Chateau, France. It is a tiny French village where we often return to see good friends Marion and Monk. Housesitting for their two dogs, Misty and Miki.

With five nights spare before we were due to arrive, we decided we would take a trip through northern Italy, through the Tunnel del Monte Bianco to see Mont Blanc, then across Switzerland, back into France and on to Fontenoy le Chateau.

Our first stop would be Tonco, in the hills of northern Italy.

Agritourism in Tonco, Italy

Dining table set with food and view of the green fields
Agriturismo il Balcone sul Monferrato

Our two-night stay in northern Italy was at Tonco, a small village staying at Agriturismo Il Balcone Sul Monferrato, which focussed on agritourism.

The owners and guests were so helpful in ensuring we enjoyed our stay. They had great suggestions for tasting the local wine and visiting Moncalvo and Santuario di Crea, which are only a short drive from the hotel.

The drive to Tonto took us through Asti.

For us, the name brought back memories of enjoying many bottles of their finest Spumante as teenagers. Aah, the memories.

Yes, we bought a bottle and also took time to visit some of Asti’s historical sights.

Red and yellow buildings in a village square
Moncalvo, near Tonco, Italy
Sand stone tall church with long vertical windows and a square tower
Cathedral of Santa Maria Assunta in Asti, Italy


Road Trip to The Shroud of Turin, Italy

a person praying in front of the Shroud of Turin
The Shroud of Turn is kept in the Cathedral of Saint John the Baptist, Italy Turin.

The next day, we headed to Turin, just over an hour’s drive via the motorway from Tonco.

Turin City has a great vibrancy thanks to a younger crowd, giving the city an energetic feel. We arrived early, found a park in the “blue zone”, and found a small cafe for coffee and a brioche.

We watched the city waking up and studied our walking map to capture all the places of interest.

The highlight, of course, is visiting the Cathedral of Saint John the Baptist, where, for four centuries, it has guarded the Shroud of Turin.

With video screens within the cathedral detailing the story of the shroud, when you walk to the side of the altar of the cathedral, you can view the shroud.

Driving through northern Italy’s countryside

Large brick building with a dome
Basilica Don Bosco and Seminary, Asti, Italy

As they say, you see a lot more when you avoid the motorways. Besides avoiding a snake sunning itself on the road, our drive took us past Basilica Don Bosco and the seminary.

It felt like we were in the middle of nowhere when this majestic building appeared.

St John Bosco developed the Salesian Preventive System of teaching based on love, not punishment. John Bosco dedicated his life to helping street children, juvenile delinquents and disadvantaged youth in the 1800s.

After our unexpected stop, we were back at the Agriturismo Il Balcone Sul Monferrato for another delicious meal for our final night’s stay.

Aosta Valley and Mont Blanc Tunnel in Italy

Silver car in forefront of a snowy mountain and pine forest
Our car, KW95 (nicknamed “Kiwi”), is going well and collecting the kms. Seen here enjoying the view of Mont Blanc, FRANCE

If you find yourself in northern Italy near the French border, we recommend a drive through the Aosta Valley.

Scattered with medieval castles and forts and overlooked by Mont Blanc and the Matterhorn, the drive will have you in awe of what you see. The highlights for us, besides the view, were the Fort of Bard and Castello d’Ivrea.

Open your wallet for the 11.6km Tunnel del Monte Bianco.

The one-way toll of €52.30 on the Italian side or €51.50 on the French side is cheaper for a return ticket, but it must be used within seven days.



Staying in a Chalet in the French Alps

While in London at a BBQ catching up with friends from our time with Richmond Cricket Club in the 1986 season. We were describing our house-sitting road trip when Trevor mentioned they had a chalet in the French area near Geneva and, if we happened to be going by, had invited us to stay.

After exiting the Tunnel del Monte Bianco, we drove to a nearby town near the chalet for groceries before making our way up the mountains.

The day was perfect, and the chalet setting was so picturesque for our first stay in a French Alp chalet. Thanks, Trevor.

Beautiful French Village, Yvoire, France, on Lake Geneva

Men and women dressed in costumes walking a cobblestone street
Yvoire, France, on Lake Geneva

Trevor suggested visiting the medieval town of Yvoire on Lake Geneva.

The day had started off overcast and drizzling with rain, but the mist had cleared by the time we arrived.

We kept saying, “the highlight was”, but once again, we were amazed by the festival of a Venetian Parade. The procession through the village of people dressed in costumes and masks was magnificent.

We followed the parade that weaved along the cobblestoned streets.

Discovering Evian and Vevey on Lake Geneva

Woman at a water fountain
Evian Lake Geneva, France

Leaving the chalet, we had two stops on our journey, Evian and Vevy on Lake Geneva.

If you have ever drunk bottled water named Evian, then the small village of Evian is where the spring water is located. We visited the fountain where the original spring water was discovered and filled our water bottles.

We noticed the village had an older crowd and, at 11.30 am, was empty of people. Perhaps an early lunch! Or a nap!

Having fun at Vevey, Switzerland

Charlie Chaplin statue
Charlie Chaplin, Vevey, Lake Geneva, Switzerland

A recommendation from Daniel and Jess was to visit Vevey, Switzerland, on Lake Geneva. The gem of information about Vevey is Charlie Chaplin was a resident here from the 1940s and is buried in the local cemetery.

You can visit Chaplin’s World, a museum honouring his life and work in the film industry in Corsier-sur-Vevey, just up the hill from the Vevey promenade.

The lake promenade was lengthy for walking, and the old town is quaint.

Crossing the border to France

Having driven around Lake Geneva from the France side of Evian to Vevy in Switzerland, it’s no wonder we were a bit dopey when it came to the border to France.

So when the French Border Patrol Police ask where you have come from today, take a moment before speaking.

Maura said France. Technically correct, as we had started in France in the morning, driven through Switzerland, and were returning to France. Luckily, Terry was the quick thinker today, saying Switzerland.

PS: Usually, we are questioned at border controls because the car looks like “Step Toe” (living out of the car can look a bit chaotic.)

Salines-Les-Bains, France

A quick overnight stay in the village of Salines-Les-Bains, known for its early centuries of salt production. We had a short drive to our housesitting assignment in Fontenoy le Chateau in France to catch up with Marion and Monk again.

After a quick bite to eat, Misty and Miki were eager for their afternoon walk along the canal.

Blue and white barge on a canal alongside village houses
Fontenoy le Chateau, France

On the Road Again

As our house sit was only for a few days, covering a long weekend, we were again on the road, with a difference. Instead of finding another house sit before returning to Fontenoy le Chateau at the end of June, we decided to take some time to work on our new website.

So where do we go?

Finding accommodation at an affordable price and with good wifi is the key factor. Luckily for us, Terry located a new Airbnb in Starigrad-Paklenica in Croatia for only €9 per night.

It was time for another road trip.

Staying at Lake Como, Italy

Stone wharf on a lake
Lake Como Italy

Lake Como was one of the stops on our road trip to Croatia.

We found a family hotel at Valbrona, Lake Como and took a drive to this beautiful lake and surrounding towns. The late afternoon to early evening was quieter, and we found a relaxing place to enjoy a drink and dinner at the water’s edge. Perfect.

And no, we didn’t see George Clooney sipping his Nespresso coffee! Maura would have loved to have seen James Bond, aka Daniel Craig, in his blue togs, though!

The next day was to be Verona, but with the rain pelting down, we kept driving. We were planning to use the tent and camp again in Trieste, but as it was still raining, we kept going.

So, we fuelled up near the border with Slovenia and loaded up with scrumptious Italian egg pasta.

Once again, we paid the €16.00 Vignette (toll) to drive for 10 minutes into and out of Slovenia to get to Croatia.

Overnight Stay in Selce, Croatia

Colourful small boats in a harbour
Selce, Croatia

By 5 pm, we were busy searching the Airbnb and app for a night’s accommodation. A hotel room with a promenade was out of our price range.

However, the Airbnb we found (out of season) in Selece was perfect for us.

With the car parked, we strolled down the narrow streets to the waterfront to enjoy a beer and pizza with a fabulous view.

One Month in Starigrad-Paklenica, Croatia

Blue water rocky coast with colourful boats
Starigrad-Paklenica, Croatia

We recommend putting Croatia on your travel itinerary when you next visit Europe.

We had already taken a 3-week road trip to Croatia, Bosnia Herzegovina, Montenegro, and Albania. It was fantastic. The scenery, crystal clear water, national parks, food and history. It’s why Croatia is a popular travel destination.

We are here for a month to write and get our fitness back on track with runs, walks and swims along the coastal promenade.

And as the entrance to Paklenica National Park is only 2 kms away and Zadar is only a 45-minute drive from Starigrad, there is plenty on offer to experience here.