There are few things that could possibly make a visit to France’s Bordeaux wine region any better, but we’re reasonably confident rent-free owl-shaped cabins are one of them.
Les Guetteurs (“The Watchers”) are three conjoined owl-shaped cottages designed by local art collective Bruit du Frigo and commissioned by Bordeaux Metropole in 2012 with the intention of promoting hiking in the region.
The cabins are modelled after native ground-dwelling owls called Brachyotes and are specially constructed from circular plywood. Spread across three levels and accessed by ladders are round, birds nest-inspired beds for up to nine guests, along with a small pontoon over the Garonne river.
There’s no electricity or running water, but you get what you pay for: the cabins are totally free to rent, meaning you can be creative about how you spend your time.
For obvious reasons, Les Guetteurs are popular with travellers, with most already booked out for the start of the European summer. Fortunately, bookings open on a monthly basis for the following month (bookings for September open in August 1, bookings for October open on September 1 and so on) and can be made online. Be ready, because one-night stays are snapped-up quickly.
For bookings to be finalised, guests need to produce a seasonal rental insurance certificate and pay a refundable deposit of €100 (around $150AUD).
Les Guetteurs are just one of Bruit de Frigo’s Refuges Périurbains (“peri-urban shelters”), with a number of other tiny abodes dotted across the Bordeaux countryside. Also rent-free, happy campers can sleep in one of six cabins, including an architecturally designed “hollow trunk” and a tiny lakeside cloud.
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Kristen Amiet is a previous AWOL editor, bona fide travel addict, sometimes whisky drinker and full-time breakfast food enthusiast.