Why Living in a Troglodyte Cave Might Be Good for You

“I’m going to France to live in a cave,” I declared to my friends and family. It was the heart of winter and my loved ones rolled their eyes, passing the notion off as another whimsical idea . . . until I packed up and went.

I’d spent the previous year traveling and was desperate for some solitude to focus on my writing. Courtesy of Google I discovered an exciting property nestled in a small village overlooking the Loire River in the center of France.

The peaceful Loire River, from solitude comes serenity.

It was a house fascia crafted onto a cliff face, a genuine troglodyte cave house. I stepped over the threshold and signed the lease without pause.

An interesting few months lay ahead, but I didn’t appreciate how good living in a cave was going to be for me and the new skills that I would acquire:

1) Coming to Enjoy Solitude

I thrive most when I’m surrounded by people, and being tucked away on top of a cliff, a steep and snowy walk from the village plunged me into a state of solitude.

For four long weeks, with few acquaintances in the area and the promise of friends visiting as far away as spring, I started to worry about the prospect of loneliness.

However, each day I came to enjoy my own company more: Time to read a book I’d bought months ago, listening to long forgotten music tracks and finally dedicating time to write.

I found the solitude and silence promoted peace and calm within me.

Montsoreau Chateau.

2) Learning to Cook Seasonally

For the first time in a long time I didn’t have access to good transport. The buses appeared once a week when the mood suited and a rental car was too costly.

Without access to a large supermarket I had to shop locally, which equated to the weekly farmer’s market. After my first visit, French basked loaded with goodies, I assessed my purchases: a ripe round of Camembert, a fresh baguette, a bag of mushrooms, a bunch of earth-covered carrots and a bottle of fresh apple juice.

That week’s meals were interesting, and a great lesson in planning and concocting meals from whatever was available locally and seasonally.

Understanding the local produce. Photo
by Urban Hafner.

3) Understanding How to Light a Real Log Fire (and Keep it Burning)

If there’s one thing I learned about living in a cave, it is how damn cold they are.

As modern as my cave was, complete with all the modern utilities, the cave walls had a unique ability to leech away the heat. A roaring wood fire was burning when I arrived thanks to my landlord, but when I tried to replicate the same the flames the next day, all I got was a fast burning firelighter and slowly smoldering kindling.

It took weeks of persistence, blackened hands and a lot of billowing to get my first fire up to standard. It’s a skill I hope I’ll never loose.

Building a fire that will burn, not burn out. Photo
by wwarby.

4) Appreciating Good Wine

Did I mention that my cave came complete with a wine cellar? And a very generous offer to help myself.

At first I was reticent to take advantage, and with many of the bottles cast in cave dust and with partially eroded labels due to age, I wasn’t sure where to begin. A short while into my stay I finally ventured into the cellar and picked a bottle at random.

It didn’t taste good; it tasted amazing. Over the next weeks I slowly sampled my way around the cellar learning the different tones of the various bottles.

Without brands and grape names to guide me, I came to rely on taste alone, broadening my willingness to experiment and find new wines.

Learning to appreciate new wines. Photo by hchalkley.

5) Meeting a Different World of People

I’d never lived in a small village before, and without my usual circle of family and friends, I was forced to meet new people.

Necessities determined the first people I met—the butcher who came to know my preferred cut of beef, the baker who would put aside a baguette for me each day, the man in the bar who knew how to brew up fiercely strong coffee.

My generous landlords introduced me to their friends, and I spent a wonderful evening dwelling in the cave of a once famous illustrator who had a penchant for small-scale Sherlock Holmes sets.

These were people I would seldom meet in a city, lives I would never have come to understood and people whom I was delighted to have met.

Meeting people from every walk of life at the local flea market. Photo
by photos-chinon.cite-creative.

When I packed up and left the cave that had been my home for three months, I was sad to say good-bye, but with a myriad of new skills, I knew that it had been a short time well spent.

Have you spent a lot of time in solitude? What skills or life lessons did you learn? Let me know in the comments below.

If you liked this article, you might also like: 6 Things I Learned about Myself through 100 Hours of Meditation.

Main photo: maison troglodyte by nicolas.boullosa.

5 thoughts on “Why Living in a Troglodyte Cave Might Be Good for You”

  1. I found the article interesting. We went to a village near Tarragona and moved into a farmhouse built in the 1750’s. The walls were thick here though and heating not a problem as it is rarely colder than freezing outside and then not for long so we did not need log fires although it would have been nice in the coldest weather. The garden was thick in weeds which had to be removed urgently to get the kids (5 of them) outside when the weather was fine. The local markets were and are fantastic with fresh meat fish fruit and vegetables each day and again by season and weather. We stayed there about 2 months until my wife had accepted the deaths of her parents and come to terms. The slow daily life was useful to take her mind off her parents, albeit this usually did not last long, but with the kids not old enough to comprehend, we both had to do our best to come through this part of our lives. I walked a lot and took the boys with me, my wife stayed in the house with the girls and cooked or cleaned. I have nothing against doing the cooking and cleaning but I saw that it was doing her good to be busy and organising!
    I can fully understand the quest and desire to live in a cave!!

  2. Dear Jo F

    Thanke you for a lovely artikel and an intrereting story .

    I think that a place like this , should suit me perfect in my common situation .

    Can you please let me know the name of this place ( cave ) and if possible a website link

    Thanke you


  3. Thank you for the lovely comments. It was a truly amazing and life inspiring experience. David, your farmhouse sounds beautiful and very peaceful. Fredik, the cave was in the Loire Valley. It is now sadly for sale but there are many similar properties in the area, otherwise Dordogne is also known for its Troglodyte properties. I wish you all a similar experience.

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