Some years ago Michael Chauvistré,a German filmaker, was a frequent visitor of Russia’s first Ikea store. The director of “To Moscow with IKEA,” a documentary, Michael Chauvistré spent months following the launch of the Swedish furniture store in the Russian capital.
But since inheriting his German farmhouse seven years ago, he has been relieved of both personal and professional trips to IKEA: The 200-year-old house came stuffed with family heirlooms and wood-burning stoves, which warm the rooms and even heat the kettle.
Michael. Chauvistré lives in the house in northwest Germany with his wife Miriam Chauvistré, a filmmaker from Italy, and their children, Giulia, 13, and Angelo, 11.
The house was originally part of a larger farm complex owned by the family of Michael Chauvistré’s mother, the Vonderbanks, going back several generations. They rented it to local farmers and used it as a weekend getaway and, when necessary, to escape wartime bombs. (His father’s family, the Chauvistrés, arrived during an earlier war with Napoleon.)
In 1983, the elder Mrs. Chauvistré sold the farm’s cottages and stables and, in 1984, moved into the main house, which measures 230 square meters (2,475 square feet).
Michael Chauvistré began renovations in 1984, including the conversion of a stable into a kitchen. “I don’t think the farmer kept animals in here while he lived here. But there is evidence that there were animals here at some point,” said Michael Chauvistré, presenting a bucket full of animal bones he dug up during renovations.
The animals are long gone, and the spacious kitchen is now filled with antique equipment including an old butcher’s block, a manual bread-cutting machine and an iron stove, used from time to time by Mrs. Chauvistré. The family bought the stove and butcher’s block at a flea market in Belgium, which borders the city limits. During the 1984 renovations, Michael Chauvistré used 11 tons of sand to return the house to its original red-brick exterior. “The farmers had covered the building in chalk and then chemicals, which had deteriorated,” he said.
On the first floor, there is a two-room office/living room on one side of a wide wooden stairwell that runs through the center of the house, and a large guest room on the other side. The guest room has a bed that the elder Mrs. Chauvistré bought from a local antiques’ dealer, and an old typewriter that the family found in an abandoned tennis stadium.
Both the office and the guest room have ornate wood-burning stoves, which Michael Chauvistré’s mother installed in 1984 before adding central heating.
At one time, the only neighbors here were the workers from the now defunct Hochbruecker water mill, which stands between the old stables and the nearby Wurm river.
“It looks idyllic but there’s now a sanitation plant down the road, a prison over the street, and a motorway just a bit further along,” said Michael Chauvistré, whose home is now sandwiched between a main road full of warehouse-type stores on one side and farms and country lanes on the other.
Michael and Miriam Chauvistré were opposed to recent plans to build a parking lot in a nearby field, and took action in the form of a documentary (Friede Freude Eierkuchen) that, they say, led to the plans being vetoed.
Still, the family has retained plenty of the countryside. There are eleven sheeps that Michael. Chauvistré bought from a local farmer to keep the lawn cropped and a lone scarecrow that stands guard over the apple trees, the raspberries, lavender, strawberries, and Michael Chauvistré’s shiny Volkswagen Beetle.
Liza Foreman for the New York Times
Nearly private Guestroom. Our son has to use the piano one time daily. Breakfest extra 5 EUR. Common bathroom. Free parking. Garden with sheeps, chicken, ducks and a cat.
The World Equestrian Festival CHIO is very close. Ten minutes by bus into the city with the Route Charlemagne. 2014 Aachen will celebrate the 1200th anniversary of Charlemagne's death with three extraordinary exhibitions: Places of power, The art of Charlemagne and Lost Treasures.
Free Parking. WiFi. Breakfest 5 EUR extra.
It's only a ten minutes walk to the Bisto "Zum schönen Soerstal" with Italian cuisine and a lovely beergarden.
The busstop is a few minutes from our place. Easy acces to the city.
No smoking in the house.
Ich habe mich bei Miriam und Michael sehr wohl gefühlt. Das Haus ist genial, eine schöne Oase die stadtnah gelegen ist. Es hat mir sehr gut gefallen und kann es nur wärmsten weiterempfehlen:-)
Hallo Miriam, Hallo Michael, vielen Dank für den spontanen Besuch. Es war sehr schön bei Euch. Gemütlich und ruhig.
Angenehme Gastgeber, hilfreich und zuvorkommend.
Die Beschreibung der Unterkunft war wie ich diese mir vorgestellt habe.
Das Umfeld war eine sehr schön anzusehen. Eine grüne Oase.
Miriam & Michael leben im wahrsten Sinne des Wortes "GASTFREUNDSCHAFT". Tolle Familie, liebe Kinder, tolles Haus, geniale Einrichtung, gute Betten, super Frühstück, spannende Gespräche, schnell in der Stadtmitte, wertvolle Tipps - einfach SEHR GUT. Vielen Dank!!!
Dear Miriam, Michael,
In consideration of a feedback rule I refrained from quoting Delyan, but since he now insisted, here's what he shared with me:
"That was one of the nicest places, I've ever stayed: I had a room on my own that was in fact much larger and nicer than it looked at the pictures; the neighborhood was very quiet, and accessible at the same time. The most valuable with that place were the hosts: a friendly and kind family, that were very helpful and considerate with my time and needs. I enjoyed there company so much: I had a long, long breakfast, hopefully it hasn't been abusive to spend so much time".
Delyan was so sincerely fascinated with his experience that he asked me to book "his" room for additional couple of days. Regretfully your listing was busy but I want to say a big THANK YOU for the personable way you treated my son.
It was my best decision to stay with Michael and Miriam. Very warm, welcoming people. Wonderful cozy farm with ducks, chikens and sheeps. Michael gave me some tips on where to go and what to see in Aachen. And Miriam for 4 days was like mother to me. I really miss this guys. Hope I'll be back one day. Highly recomend this place, you won't be dissappointed.
Ich war als Referentin für einen Vortrag auf die Ernährungsmesse in Aachen eingeladen worden und für eine Nacht zu Gast bei Michaels Familie. Ich wurde extrem freundlich aufgenommen. Zu Tee und Kaffee in der Küche philosophierten Michael und ich über unsere Reisen. Das fand sogar der Junior spannend und hörte unserem Gespäch als stiller Teilnehmer zu. Das rustikale Privatzimmer versetzt jeden Besucher in andere Zeiten. Spätestens wenn der Hahn kräht und Bio-Eier verspricht. Wahrscheinlich muss man es nicht erwähnen, aber mein Vortrag am nächsten Tag war besonders gut! Und daß lag sicherlich an der netten Herberge in Aachen.....
Mit unseren beiden Kindern bewohnen wir das alte Backsteinhaus am Rande der Stadt, das seit Generationen in der Familie ist. Wir haben gerne Gäste, kochen italienisch und deutsch, züchten hobbymäßig eine alte einheimische Hühnerrasse, lassen unsere Schafe den Rasen mähen und die Zwergenten im Teich planschen.