I took a walk down memory lane this week.
I have a new project in Saint Rémy de Provence… a tiny village house that I am about to start restoring. We bought it eighteen long months ago with the hope of having it renovated and ready this year. Not to be… the official wheels move slowly in France and especially when the house is right in the centre of an historic village. But that’s ok… If I have learned nothing else from my time in Provence… it is patience. Things happen when they are good and ready… approvals and certificates are much the same. To have a building permit in the centre of a village such as this is a laborious process… but with reason… there are many factors to consider… the most important is what could be hiding underneath your property. The area is ripe with Roman antiquities so the powers that be are very conscious to preserve anything of archaeological importance. The great news is we have our approvals and we are ready to start work… as soon as we choose les enterprises.
The reason I mentioned ‘memory lane’ is that the process of choosing the builder, the plumber, the electrician, the painter, the iron monger and others is such a sentimental one for me. I loved this process when we planned and restored our farmhouse and I can’t wait to delve right back in again. Building is different in France, or here at least and the contractors are engaged separately rather than coming under the one umbrella. In this case the architect will manage the project and the sub-contractors will be employed independently from one another. The delightful thing for me is that I am working with the same architect… Hugues Bosc is the most charming man and has impeccable taste… it was such a pleasure to be back in his bureau talking about fixtures and finishes… bedrooms and bathrooms… terracotta and stone… As we talked through the plans and he mentioned the contractors that may be available to start work on le petit bijou… (that’s the name I would like to call this house, because it really is a little jewel)… I was so happy to hear that many of them are the same enterprises that worked on our farmhouse all those years ago. Over the time that we worked together I grew so fond of these people… they were all artisans in their own right and together we created a beautiful home.
The work will hopefully start in the next few months and realistically le petit bijou will be ready for Easter next year… fingers crossed. Although the house is petite, everything must be renovated. We are changing the layout to have a kitchen and living area downstairs with two bedrooms and a small terrace upstairs. The view from the upstairs windows is adorable as it looks back towards Le Musée des Alpilles… A museum to explore for an understanding of the region and it’s history. I can’t wait to start work on this… it has been a long time coming… The only issue that could stop work is the running of the bulls in the summer… As good an excuse as any… Right?
Over the next few months I would like to document and share the project with you… from the good, the bad and the ugly… from the beginning to the end… The photograph today is for inspiration… it is not le petit bijou but another charming entranceway in Saint Rémy… and a reminder for me to safeguard the charm and the authenticity of our little village house… xv
If you would like to read my story of creating a home in France… My French Life