Last year, I featured a handful of eclectic green homes profiled by filmmaker Kirsten Dirksen and the gang over at faircompanies that many of you might have considered to be “nontraditional:” a converted WWII lifeboat in Sausalito, an abandoned garage in Bordeaux, a tweaked-by-hand shipping container, a Midtown Manhattan rental the size of a walk-in-closet, a 130-square-foot tiny house built by a 16-year-old, and a Bay Area beauty with glass awnings fabricated from Dodge Caravan windows.
Well, 2012 has gotten off to a very nontraditional start over at faircompanies because one of the website's latest featured living arrangements is located in a cave. On a formerly condemned quarry. In rural France.

I've featured a modern day cave dwelling before before but this one, located near the touristy town of Saumur in the stunning Loire Valley, is pretty special.

The area in and around Saumur is famously home to an abundance of ages-old subterranean lairs, troglodyte dwellings, that in recent years have been converted into bars, galleries, restaurantshotels, mushroom farms, and, since this is the Loire Valley that we're talking about, wineries. And in what the Smithsonian calls "the epicenter of troglo life," there is still a smattering of domesticated caves like the one belonging to a retired teacher named Henri Grevellec.

Twelve years ago, Grevellec purchased an abandoned quarry in the area and set out to convert a network of six condemned, previously inhabited rocky outcrops into one happy, habitable and Hobbit-esque home. Performing much of the renovation work himself with old-fashioned stone working tools, Grevellec transformed the series of caves, which once upon a time had been used as living quarters for quarry workers, into a wine cellar, a guest room, a workshop and a charming primary living space complete with modern kitchen, bedroom and bathroom.

Of course, there’s one huge boon of living in a domesticated cave: no heating or cooling is necessary since the rock walls act as a natural insulator, keeping things cool in the summer and mild in the winter. And to bring in additional light and prevent things from becoming stuffy in the main cave, Grevellec added a skylight which also can be used as an escape hatch in the event that the cannibalistic humanoids from “The Descent” ever decide to pay a visit.

Not a bad set up Grevellec has there, right? A cozy underground home, a kitty, plenty of vino, peaceful natural surroundings and non-existent heating/cooling costs. Perhaps he'd be willing to swap his digs for a fourth floor walk up in Brooklyn for a month or three? 

Matt Hickman ( @mattyhick ) writes about design, architecture and the intersection between the natural world and the built environment.

A troglodyte dwelling in France that's dyn-o-mite
A retired teacher purchases an abandoned quarry in France's Pays de la Loire region and goes about converting, by hand, a network of previously excavated caves