Vacations come in all shapes and sizes. And, so do the places that one can stay in. Everything from a five star hotel room to a bunk in a hostel can be found in most major cities around the world. But, imagine if you can vacationing in France and instead of a hotel you stay in a tree-house. I kid you not a real tree-house that you can rent while vacationing in France.
Jane Sobanski has that tree-house in the South west of France in the village of Marclac. The area is famous for it's link to the Three Musketeers and Armagnac. Curious I decided to contact Ms. Sobanksi to find out more abut the tree-house.
Ms. Sobanski welcome to Candid Constructions.
J. Sobanski: Hello Cliff.
Cliff T.: A tree-house that is novel, what inspired you to build it?
J. Sobanski: First of all I must not take credit where it is not due, and say that the tree-house is all the work of my very marvelous husband Marek. I did paint a wall or two and stuff in a bit of sheep’s wool insulation but the design and building was all his.
When he was a kid he and his brothers built a small tree-house in their garden and ever since then he had dreamed of building a ‘serious’ tree-house. It wasn’t until we moved to France that we had enough trees for him to tackle the project.
Cliff T.: I see that you can have up to six in the tree-house. That must mean this is a very big tree-house, how big are we talking when it comes to the size of it?
J. Sobanski: Yes, it is bigger than people expect. They imagine a shed in a tree, which it definitely is not! In fact, it is the same floor space as our first little 2-up 2-down terraced house in England. There are two bedrooms which sleep four people and a sofa-bed in the living room for another two, along with a kitchen, bathroom and a big terrace outside.
Cliff T.: What did it take to build it and how long did it take to construct the tree-house?
J. Sobanski: It was built over three years, as we periodically ran out of money or enthusiasm. If you put all the time together, it took three guys about seven months. The platform went up in about two weeks and the skeleton of the house in about three weeks, which all seemed wonderfully quick, but then everything else took ages, particularly the finishing. All the walls are double skins of planks, the outside ones stuffed with sheep’s wool for insulation and every angle of every board had to be cut specially - you can imagine how the enthusiasm ran out occasionally. Every surface had to be treated in some way - sanded, painted, varnished, weather-proofed and generally fussed over. That’s where I did my bit!
Cliff T.: What can guests expect to see when they go up into the tree-house?
J. Sobanski: As the tree-house is built on a steep slope, one side of the platform is only about a meter and a half above the ground, but the other side is about five meters up. You cross a bridge onto the platform, where there is a big terrace to sit out on. Once through the front door, apart from the odd tree coming up through the floor, you feel that you’re in a proper house - a kitchen, bathroom and living room downstairs and the two bedrooms upstairs. It is surrounded by oak, sweet chestnut and hornbeam, so you really feel that you are in the trees. There is a wood-burning stove for when it gets chilly, so it’s very cozy.
Cliff T.: Ms. Sobanski, what kinds of reactions do you get when people find out you have a tree-house for rent?
J. Sobanski: Generally people are amazed. I think it brings out the kid in all of us. The compost toilet causes a few raised eyebrows but as it works very well, people like the novelty of it. There are creature comforts too, like hot water and a washing machine, used with washing balls to limit pollution. It is incredibly peaceful and people say they either have the best sleep ever or they have amazing dreams and you can see the stress drop away - probably to do with being surrounded by ‘tree energy’.
Cliff T.: What is the best time of the year to rent the tree-house and how long do guests tend to stay?
J. Sobanski: Summer is obviously the most popular time, but spring and autumn are very beautiful here and we only have a short winter, and there is the stove to keep snug. Christmas in a tree-house is really cool!
Cliff T.:I bet you’re the talk of the town, what do the locals think of having a tree-house that is used like a hotel suite?
J. Sobanski: They love it! As we live in a very small rural community, people are always bringing their friends round to see it - it’s become a bit of an attraction.
Cliff T.: Are you planning on expanding by building more tree-houses?
J. Sobanski: Yes. Marek’s next tree-house will be the other end of the scale - a one-room space all built from recycled and local materials - he will cut his own planks and put a chestnut shingle roof on it. Quite how many more he has planned I’m not sure!
Cliff T.: I also spotted a section on your site talking about building tree-houses, is that something else you do?
J. Sobanski: Yes - this is a new venture.
Cliff T.: Have you built many of them?
J. Sobanski: Not yet!
Cliff T.: If people want to rent the tree-house you have or build one themselves using your services how far in advance of the trip or project should they book?
J. Sobanski: On the rental side, it is good to book as soon as you have definite holiday dates, as we do have to turn people away during the summer (more tree-houses needed!). For a tree-house to be built, the planning stage can take some time, depending on where you are, what restrictions are in force and what you have in mind for your tree-house. So the sooner the better, really.
Cliff T.: Is there anything special a guest needs to know before booking?
J. Sobanski: Not really. The tree-house is child-friendly and so long as you are cool with the compost toilet, there’s nothing scary! You can get a car very near, so no tramping through woods with suitcases. We are very much in the countryside but there are local villages with shops and restaurants so you are not too isolated from civilization.
Cliff T.: Ms Sobanski it's been fantastic speaking with you about the tree-house you have. Thanks for letting Candid Constructions readers know more about it.
J. Sobanski: It’s been a pleasure. If any your readers fancy a visit they will be very welcome.
Jane Sobanski is the owner of a tree-house for rent near Marciac, France which is 130 KM West of Toulouse. For more information or to to book the tree-house visit http://treehousefrance.com.