It’s happening… finally I see progress with our little house in the village.
We bought Le Petit Bijou two and a half years ago… a small village house in the centre of the most historic part of Saint Remy de Provence to renovate and eventually rent out to fellow Francophiles who would enjoy a taste of French life as they travel around the area.
Le Petit Bijou (that’s the name we have called it… I am not even sure it makes sense in French, but to me it was always a ‘little jewel’ and the name has stuck) is taking longer and is more complicated than I imagined… One thing I have learned when it comes to renovation, is that it is far better to do what needs to be done well and in the beginning… if something isn’t right or doesn’t please.. it never will. This renovation has meant fixing and moving everything you could imagine… it seems that all that is left of the original house are the stone walls. Gaining space has been my goal.. making a second bedroom and configuring the living area to be more generous was my main objective… I have had to make compromises.. because Le Petit Bijou it is in the historical centre, the planning permissions were difficult and close proximity to neighbours meant their interests took first priority.
Now that I can see the new layout… the wait has been worth it… The walls have been demolished and the new ones built in place. We have two bedrooms upstairs, a generous bathroom and a baby terrace… with views back towards the Musée des Alpilles and the Hôtel de Sade. On Wednesday, I spent a very chilly morning working out where I should place the beds to take the best advantage of the view… I imagined laying in bed and gazing out over the rooftops of Saint Rémy de Provence… I had to decide what goes where in the bathroom… The bath is a priority… long lazy bathing after a massive day of sightseeing would be essential… Don’t you think? And a good shower.. for those who don’t like to soak… So many ideas were swirling around in my head… they still are… and as much as I enjoy the architectural planning, it’s the making pretty that I am really looking forward to.
The ceiling heights are all different… the joys of an old house …which means wall lights and lamps will be the most practical form of lighting… I have my work cut out finding these… as you know by now I love all things vintage and a little shabby chic… so the hunt will be on next month… I shall be searching every flea market I can find… the electricians won’t be happy with all that re-wiring… but if I can find them, it will create so much ambience.. Downstairs I have a generous ceiling height… so one simple chandelier, above the dining room table… is on my list… Now the bed, bath and lighting thoughts are under control… I am deliberating about the flooring… Stone, wood or terracotta… so many options but all determined by availability… Thoughts of the months ahead and all the legwork involved is making my head spin… My trouble is that I am a perfectionist… I know what I like and I search high and low until I find it… but deadlines are deadlines… and I need to get my skates on.. if Le Petit Bijou will ever be ready.
I don’t know if you have read the series of books from Lady Winifred Fortescue, who moved to Provence in the 1930’s…her books tell the tale of her love for Provence and the ups and downs as she created her home … Most of the books are out of print now, so the copies available are second hand and a little worn… but her writing style is so endearing… her love and passion for Provence, totally infectious… Her words have inspired me… and on those days when Le Petit Bijou seems more about problems than joy… because it can… the challenges of a foreign language, our cultural differences and the inevitable time delays… I will re-read her passages and be reminded that the end goal is not a race… Provence runs to it’s own beat and ultimately the rewards will come.
Patience is everything… xv