La Ruche, the name of the lovely holiday home that we enjoyed this autumn in France, means beehive in French. The owners found a beehive in the old barn when it was being renovated, and thus the sweet name. The name my mother chose for me before I was nicknamed Debbie in elementary school is Deborah, which means bee. Buzzing along to a harmonious connection, I was anxious to see whether my instincts were right about this haven in the French Alps. A wise proverb says: “Pleasant sayings are a honeycomb, sweet to the soul and a healing to the bones.” Honey is said to have healing properties according to many experts, and the natural, golden food is simply good and refreshing. We needed an enjoyable get-away from our normal responsibilities and an escape from routine boredom, a place to recharge our batteries and renew our energy. La Ruche soothed our bones and rewarded us with a comfortable place to rest and marvel at the ever-changing views across the wide-open fields to the cows in the pastures and the mountains beyond.Rain pelted our rental car and swished the windows as we made our way cautiously from the Lyon airport on expressways, and then to smaller roads that wound through the valleys and the sides of mountains until we arrived in Samoëns, a charming village filled with character. (More about the village will come later.) Locating the house wasn’t a problem, and in my opinion it is on the prettiest road in the town, lined with old and new timber houses with flower boxes overflowing with red geraniums and lace curtains with delicate designs in the windows. Gardens with dark, rich soil had zucchini, lettuce and tomatoes. But that exploration in long walks was yet to come since rain was falling and we had to unload our luggage and settle into the house. British Airways had failed to deliver Jim’s suitcase with his clothing, toothbrush, shaving stuff and basically everything a man needs to avoid grouchiness, chafing and the appearance of a hermit at the dinner table. (It was delivered two days later.) Right away, we were in need of the healing power of honey to soothe away our worries.
Once we entered the code to the lockbox and had our key, we opened the big barn door and interior glass door to enter a home built of wood, including new lumber and other parts of old timber with huge beams. The smell of wood filled the senses with a natural, pure feel-good serenity. Childhood memories filled my mind as I unzipped my boots and walked in my socks on the wooden wide-plank floors. My daddy’s carpentry business was next door to our home when I was a child, with his stock of lumber at the back where I crept up with my dolls to pretend that the layers of pine, oak, birch and cedar were my house. The smell of wood was always there in the air and on my daddy’s shirt when I hugged him. But playing on the racks of lumber was forbidden, and he sent me away with a warning most of the time. There in La Ruche, I just knew that I had found the perfect wooden playhouse.
Getting down to basics, the master bedroom was downstairs with glass doors across one wall providing a gorgeous view across the fields and access to a terrace. The second bedroom was on a mezzanine which was toasty warm for the winter and would be especially perfect for children, a great place for young ones to escape and play. There were privacy screens so adults could easily stay here, also. There was plenty of storage in the master bedroom and in the entry which had another closet with mirrored sliding doors. Lighting for reading was perfect and adjustable heating was great since I want a cool bedroom for sleeping. Our color combination changed from orange to gray and white when the linens were changed, a nice extra provided for the house.
We had to go upstairs for the bathroom which is located on the main living area.
The railings to each level are strong, iron bars, none of the flimsy supports often found in rentals. Brilliant blue tile that shimmers in iridescent color line the power shower enclosed with a glass door. The washer/dryer combination is hidden away in a cabinet in the bathroom. One machine does both functions, a real space saver. A wonderfully cozy towel warmer was beside the shower door, and I added my robe with the towel so I could wrap myself like a pampered child.The living room has a large sofa which was very comfortable, a wide-screen television on the wall and the essential wood burner for a comfortable evening by the fire. Jim loved the kitchen which is completely modern with everything he needed. He is the chef extraordinaire, very demanding and he had no complaints. A huge window had views to the trees with leaves changing to golden colors and a house with gingerbread trim. The walls facing the fields and mountains had massive glass windows with wood-slats, open for the view, but shielding any harshness. A small balcony is accessed by a glass door from this side. Several large, orange cushions were on the floor inside at the glass wall facing the balcony. When we had the tour from the property manager, she said that people took the cushions to sit on the balcony in good weather. Knowing the Europeans’ habit of sunbathing topless, I thought this corner could be a private sunning area in the summer.
Jim and I kept on all of our clothes and didn’t expose our birthday suits, and no one called passport control to revoke our entry to France for offending the neighborhood farmers and cows.
The sunning didn’t get me into trouble, but I fell into another area of embarrassment. We had access to a sauna in an old building on the property that required a large, iron key to open the door. I had never enjoyed this privilege, so I was excited to check it out. I slipped on my bathing suit and wore leggings and a sweatshirt over it with boots, my only outdoor shoes, on my feet. Jim and I walked in the dark under the trees, and sensors turned on lights at strategic locations to safely light the way. The sauna must be wonderful when the weather is icy cold with snow on the ground. We sat on the bench and enjoyed the heat with Jim tossing water for steam in the room. Baking on the wooden shelf like a Little Debbie cupcake, I listened to Jim tell about his Finnish mother’s happy times in the sauna and her brisk roll in the snow afterwards. It was worth listening to his remembrances just for the mental images of my mother-in-law cavorting in the snow. Since Jim is willing to give an ear to my doll tea party nostalgia, the least I can do is nod and smile at his boyhood memories. “Pleasant sayings … a healing to the bones.”
When it was time to return to the house, I felt far too hot to put on my leggings, so I pulled on the boots and walked in the dark wearing only my bathing suit. I thought nothing about walking in the stillness to the front door, but Jim took much longer locking up and turning everything off than I expected.
There I stood at the front glass door waiting for him to come and unlock. The heat from the sauna was seeping away from my body and the cold gradually spread across my arms and legs while I was stamping my feet, shivering on the front stoop. Just as I pulled my old Guess sweatshirt over my head and my eyes peeped over the frayed collar with my head half-hidden, I was flashed with the bright car headlights focused on my bathing suit with the sequined top, boots to my wrinkled knees, white goose-pimply legs and half-on sweatshirt with huge orange and blue GUESS lettering on the front. I felt the music vibe from the old song “The Streak” by Ray Stevens when he hollered, “Don’t look Ethel!” But it was too late. No one called property management. We were safe. Oh, well. What’s a honey bee hive without a few stings? We had such great fun!
I must give credit to the lovely owners that we had the pleasure of meeting briefly. CLICK here to see their other house – Le Baptieux. My favorite part of this house is the bathtub, which is to die for! A special “thank you” must go to Hayley at Alps Accommodation, who helped me from the beginning. Do check them out for a wonderful holiday home with everything you need. (CLICK here for La Ruche with all of the details and professional photos. Mine are far from perfect, but I thought you would like to see everything from our viewpoint.) The Internet worked perfectly, which was a concern for me. Graham and Gaëlle with Kukipegs Property Services answered promptly all of our questions from the major to the mundane. They are just down-to-earth and such a sweet couple, just what you need for a perfect holiday. Thank you! Thank you!!!
Please come back and see us as we share our days in this beautiful corner of the earth – the Haute-Savoie. Next time, I want to share some photography and information about Samoëns. (My story on the lovely holiday home was unsolicited and I received no monetary consideration, therefore, completely unbiased.)
Perhaps you would enjoy having the book “A French Opportunity” on your nightstand. Available in paperback ,or Kindle, at all Amazon websites including France, England, Japan and many others.