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Naomi Benamy

(3) Songbird Sanctuary

~ Songbird Sanctuary ~

Composed of three guest houses that can be rented separately or together:The Swan, a 3 bedroom 165m² house that sleeps 8 maximumThe Dove, a 2 bedroom 80m² house that sleeps 6 maximumThe Skylark, a 1 bedroom 80m² cave ("troglogite") that sleeps 4 maximum

Please find their individual information, along with their photos, prices and availability, on their separate pages - on this page I have the photos of the grounds and auxiliary spaces.

The Spaces

Our 'Songbird Sanctuary" has two traditional guest houses, the first one is ‘The Swan’. It is 165m², with a fully equipped kitchen, two bathrooms, lots of comfortable spread-out space and three bedrooms. Coming from the other courtyard, you enter our other traditional gite, a two bedroom 80m² charmer called ‘The Dove’. Also on the property are several caves dug into the cliff face, in some, we have created our “troglogite”, called our ‘Skylark’, a one bedroom spacious 80m², with large living room, dining, kitchen, bathroom and bedroom in three contiguous caves. 
The property is set up on three levels.  There is a lovely pathway to the left, leading to the courtyard where you will find the Swan on the second level, and a staircase on the right, leading to the courtyard where you will find the Dove and Skylark, also on the second level. There is also a road that leads to this courtyard, so that you can bring your luggage up to the Dove or Skylark by car, before parking back down on the lower level.  

The courtyards on both sides have a steep but beautiful stone staircase leading up to the land above the caves, which is our third level.  At the street, we have several caves cut into the rock and forming the foundations of the house above.  Here we have the laundry that the Dove and Skylark share, and one enclosed parking - there is additional outdoor parking both on the property and on a piece of land we have just down the street.  We also keep several bicycles in our ground-floor caves, that you are welcome to use. 

The previous owners were bird lovers, and had built some lovely nesting places into the cliff face, hence our decision on the names.

The Neighborhood

If you are looking to spend some time in the Loire Valley, this location is fabulous – you can walk to Chenonceau, we are very near the river Cher. There are multiple bicycle routes, we  keep some bicycles in our storage cave for people staying here to borrow. There is a canoe rental place by the river Cher, a few minutes walk from our house; you can canoe right under Chenonceau! There are many castles in the area; you are close to Amboise and the wonderful museum at Clos Lucé, Leonardo da Vinci’s residence, which houses many of his experiments, designs and paintings. You’re a half-hour drive to Tours in one direction along the Cher, and a half-hour drive to Beauval Zoo & Park in the other direction.

The place is beautifully quiet, however there is a train track that passes right behind the houses on the other side of the road.  We are a bit removed from that, since the gites are on the courtyards up on the second level, not directly facing the street - and are therefore somewhat shielded.  There is no visual connection but you will be aware of the occasional train when it goes by.

Getting Around

To take full advantage of the Loire Valley, you really need a car. We have our own parking available right by the Songbird Sanctuary. You can take the train from Paris (or the airport) into Tours – the high-speed train takes a little over an hour – and rent a car there, if you don’t want to drive too long a distance. Or you can take a train directly into Chenonceau or Blére, both are a few kilometers from our place – which would be about a 40 minute walk, but if you are planning to get around by bicycle, this could be a good solution for you.  You can also take your bicycles on the train.  There are taxi services in Bléré, I still have to find out about Uber.  There is also an incredibly inexpensive bus that goes from Paris to Tours - it's part of the Ouibus system, and prices are usually between 9 and 15€!

About Me

My photo
Frankly, I never thought I'd end up living in Paris but - you see, I met a man. On a ski trip - Alps - chalet - fireplace - well, it's been twenty years. I can't give you the complete insider's guide to Paris yet, (I believe that takes three generations) but I can give you an ex-New Yorker's guide to this fabulous City of Lights. Our first studio was my husbands - that's where we lived once we decided to share a continent. We were there until our son was about negative-one-month old, and we didn't want to have to convert the bidet into a bassinet. Once we moved, I started renting out that apartment and everything fell into place. As an architect, I love fixing up the apartments, and as an ex-pat, I love meeting the people who come to enjoy their vacations in Paris. Now, we’ve also bought a property in the Loire Valley, and have just finished renovating that into several fabulous vacation homes – one of them is in a cave! You’ve got to see the pictures, it is a wonderful place – and the location is perfect for exploring the region – the chateaux, the wine, the scenery, it’s beautiful.