Things are tough for young people in Europe. Unemployment is sky high and finding decent, affordable accommodation is challenging. But when freshly unemployed Alexis Lamoureux, then 23, discovered that his great aunt’s former troglodyte cave home was about to be auctioned by local authorities in the town of Amboise, France, he took a chance and made a cheeky bid of just one euro. His gamble that authorities would rather sell it than maintain it paid off: no one else placed a bid and Lamoureux became the proud owner of one rather run down cave. After four years of hard work, Lamoureux and his girlfriend, Lotte van Riel, now call the cave home – and they offer a bedroom as guest accommodation through Airbnb.
The home, known as Chez Hélène-Amboise Troglodyte, is situated in the Loire Valley. It sits about two miles out of Amboise, which was once home to Leonardo da Vinci. Troglodyte homes are common in the area, having originated after 11th-century mining activity left holes and grottoes in the soft rock. Due to their lack of amenities, the homes started to fall out of favor at the beginning of the 20th century, but have recently become popular again with investors and young people like Lamoureux and van Riel.
Once Lamoureux had nabbed his bargain home, he then had to make it habitable. After being turned down for a 25,000 euro loan by a number of banks, he and van Riel instead worked in Lamoureux’s family’s restaurant for three years to save the money for renovations. First up they had to make the cave structurally sound again. This involved installing 11 cable anchors and cladding them in cinder block and concrete. The house also had no plumbing, sewage pipes or electricity, so the couple had to hand dig a channel for piping and cables from the road to the house. In all the renovations took around twelve months and cost 35,000 euros ($44,500). The results are quite simply stunning.
The couple now live in their own one bedroom, one bathroom apartment in the troglodyte home, but they reserved a separate room to rent out for guest accommodations. The space sleeps two and features an open bathroom. The combination of warm yellow stone contrasted with fresh blue and white accents is rustic, chic and oh-so French. Breakfast is included in the accommodation package, and lunch and dinner can be provided by arrangement. If you’ve ever wanted to go hide out in a cave to get away from it all, this is your chance, though claustrophobics might want to give it a miss.