This week has been mainly the house, so i’ll start with that.
After meeting Raymond the builder with Frederic we thought we might have found the dream tradesman. In France there is not the demarcation between trades we are used to . Raymond will do the demolition, building, plumbing, tiling and electrical work himself. And there is no need for any permits for the work we are having done. Love it!
Frederic also tells me that in France timber is not used for framing up. It is done using U section steel.
Raymond said he would be at the house to start work at 830 monday. He wasn’t there at 1030 so I rang Frederic, as Raymond’s phone didn’t answer . Frederic said that Raymond had gastro and was seeing the doctor. He finally turned up at 3 on tuesday afternoon, most apologetic and jackhammered away until 730. And he worked like a dervish for the rest of the week.
Early starts in winter don’t seem to be a French thing. Raymond arrives about 930 ,but he does go flat out until 7 and stops for nothing! We are very pleased with him.
They take a very practical approach to lots of things….. Our rear backs onto a lane. So Raymond parked the truck ( camion) in the lane. And tipped all the debris out a back window into the camion. What could be easier?
By close of business on friday the old bathroom had been stripped out and de- tiled , two new door accesses created , a new door hung and a dividing wall built. Pretty good going we think. If gastro stays away we are confident that the job will be finished next week , as planned. And miles cheaper than for the same work being done at home.
M. Rosenblatt has kindly given us the use of the bathroom in his b&b cottage while all this is going on. It is only about a minute away.
Another difference between our two countries is getting stuff delivered. Three examples
1 we bought quite a bit of stuff, including three mattresses at ikea in Avignon on 1 December. It will be delivered at acost of about $ 200 next tuesday ,that is 3 weeks after we bought it. I probably rang them 10 times to achieve this.
2 we bought the toilets, basins, tiles, showers etc. from Monsieur Dricolage, a pale imitation of bunnings. I asked for delivery 8 k to our house. Big problem. The solution was for me to rent a van from them and do my own delivery. The van cost 35 euros for an hour and we had to give them a cheque for 450 euros as a cover for any damage we did. No damage you get the cheque back. In France cheques play a much more important role than they do in Australia. It would be difficult to operate here without a bank account and a chequebook.
3 Janelle wants to buy a thermomix…. They are abouthalf price in france. The thermomix rep. came yesterday and said that the machine would be delivered 3 weeks after having been paid for. Janelle told her that if she doesn’t have it by the end of this week the order is to be torn up. Watch this space!
The attitude to a lot of things seems to us to be casual. For example, we went into Nimes on Thursday to transfer the electricity. That is nearly 2 weeks after we settled. In passing the girl asked if we had done a meter reading. We said we hadn’t and she said ” no problem”.
At this stage we still haven’t transferred the water and sewerage, but we’ll do that next week. No one seems the slightest perturbed. And life goes on.
We still have no phone or internet coverage at the house, but we have had an indication from orange that things are happening. It will make a pleasant change from having to phone and email from the top of the street
Food is much, much cheaper over here. The fish soup we love has just been reduced at Carrefour to 2 euros for a litre bottle with a free jar of rouille. I bought some duck meat the other day for a curry for 6 euros, wine which we are happy to drink is 6 or7 euros. We have been buying oysters for under a euro each. But other seafood ,such as prawns and scallops can be expensive.
We have found the most sensational ice cream…creme brulee. You could easily sit down and eat the whole tub. It’s just wonderful.
The other food discovery this week has been dried fruits that we don’t see,such as dried strawberries. The lady selling these also sold the best turkish delight we have had and the best dates.
Our very elderly neighbour has gone to Paris for xmas with his family. Before leaving he gave us a bottle of his home made aperatif, a 2 year old blend of oranges and rocket fuel. We are enjoying it.
In the interests of research we went to 2 restaurants this week. Both really good and both about 100 euros including wine. What they both cook is simple variations on age old french classical dishes. The difference is that the raw materials are so good.
Baguettes are France in my mind. It’s why one of our requirements was a village with a boulangerie. I just love going to the boulangerie in the morning and buying our breakfast baguette. So fresh and crunchy. Fresh baguettes are baked every couple of hours throughout the day. And they are so cheap. In this area they are less than a euro. But what I have noticed over the 30 years or so that i have been coming to France is that they are definitely getting smaller… A very french solution
Nothing much on cars…. Cars and bathroom renos dont mix. The 2 CV that was for sale in a local dealer’s yard lasted less than a fortnight.
A few thoughts on french parking. The attitude is that if a car will fit there then it’s a legitimate parking space. And the police municipal seem to turn a blind eye. Twice in the past week i have seen cars parked across intersections, completely stopping the traffic out of roads. I have seen a car driven up a one way street the wrong way and parked on the wrong side of the road. Nobody gets too upset . Yesterday we were following a van up a really narrow street when he stopped,opened the passengers side door and had a 5 minute conversation with someone. We were ignored.
Auction, someone told us during the week that there was going to be an auction today at the village chateau. We were going past yesterday and saw the door open and went in. I asked if we could leave bids on a couple of things and was given a bidding form. The auction was at 2:30 today. I asked when I could drop the bidding form back and was told they would be there from 9:30 am. I went around at 10:30 .all closed up. 12:30.all closed up. 2:10.all closed up, but I could hear voices in the garden behind a hedge. 2:35 doors open and about 15 people present. I left the bidding form. I went back at 6 to see how we went and the auction was still in progress.
We went this morning to a market in Beaucaire. It’s about 35 minutes drive away on a canal. Quite picturesque, but with an industrial area. It’s a complete cotrast to Uzes. I would think that 90 percent of the people we saw in and around the market were from Algeria or Marocco. Not a totally happy place.
Anyway,that’s it for week two.