ARTSTAY – MAKING LIFE MORE INTERESTING
In 2020, humanity fell asleep like Rip Van Winkle; the whole world was placed on home detention. No travel and then – blink – the calendar says its 2024. Pundits call it pandemic skip. Toward the end came probation – conditional release where travel was a pain as everyone made up for lost time. Now we’re getting back to normal, but forever changed.
The idea of flying somewhere, renting a car and staying in hotels no longer appeals. Change of scenery is great, exposure to a different culture awakens the mind and feeds the palate, but it has its limits, especially in this era of Instagram where a zillion other travellers clog the streets and annoy the locals. So, one begins by doing research on Google, soon stumbling on a web site that specialises in offering huge, ancient French chateaus with oodles of bedrooms, oozing in history, reasonably priced in shoulder season – and where the owners can arrange for an in-house chef and support staff.
From that stems an idea: create a gathering.
A gathering is an event that is planned but not structured. Time, place and approximate cost is set, but not subject matter or social relationship.
- Find a place
- Invite a good mix of people
Place: At least rooms for ten people, a mix of couples and singles, younger and older. A nice balance of shared space – dining, sitting, conversing, playing (cycling, swimming, tennis courts) and private space (library, gardens, walks). Location not too isolated; near drive to delightful cafes and shops in a village or town; a nice base to explore.
To start, we found a 12th century chateau in the Nouvelle-Aquitaine region of Southwest France that advertises 3,000€ per month during off season (Sept-May), suitable for up to 15 people. We’ll contact them to see if it suits.
People: Friends of friends, a mix of ages, backgrounds, languages (but English as the common tongue) who are delightful, respect boundaries and enjoy the company of others. Put the word out and see what happens.
Costs: It’s not a contractual business; costs are shared. Rent & bills. Split it. If someone bails out, it costs a bit more. Ditto chef and house cleaner. Some stay for the duration – say a month or so. Others, especially working in jobs in countries with less holiday time off, perhaps shorter stays with one arriving when the previous departs.
To Do: As initiators of the idea, having done our homework in advance, we expect to travel from New Zealand to France in May when the weather gets good to check out locations. Then target September as the first gathering. Starting now, set up this web site to contact friends to see who may be interested, and who knows other people who may think it’s a great idea and sign up.
About the domain name: We bought the domain name, artstay.com in 2002 when the Internet was young. We were building our own casale (like a chateau) in New Zealand, and as creatives (Gabriella is a professional artist – see lewenz.net), it was a play on farmstay or homestay, popular terms at the time. Never really used it, but kept it. This seems as good a use as any.
This is our place in New Zealand, built it ourselves 27 years ago. 30,000 earth bricks made on site.