Saturday Kind Of Sucked

Yesterday we went looking for a new bathroom window. As usual it took practically all afternoon just to try to accomplish one thing. I swear France is the only country this happens in and I know I’m not making it up since I hear complaints about this ALL the time!

It started out with trying to visit a window and shutter store. I had seen the store off the auto route one day and logged it away for future reference. Since we have an old house, Dude and I are pretty much thinking that it might be hard to get a standard size window off the shelf from LeRoy’s or Castorama so I had wanted a backup just in case.

First thing in the morning we just dawdled around when getting ready (we tend to do that on Saturday just to feel like we got some relaxation time in, plus we are a bit burned out). Then we took off for the store. I had tried to look it up before we left, but couldn’t find it online. Since I knew exactly where it was we took off anyway. We made it there only to discover that the store isn’t open on Saturdays. What the heck is with France and their idea of goods and services. There we were right in front of this enormous store (and I mean it was huge) and it was closed…..on a Saturday. N’importe quoi!! How the heck is anybody supposed to get stuff done around here when nothing is ever open and when it is, they close so dang early that you can’t get enough time in after work?! Therefore, you got to go to the few places that are open on Saturday and you end up being there forever and a day cuz everyone else in France is there too trying to get something accomplished since they have the same problem of never being able to get something done. Yes, that’s another gripe.

Well, Dude and I headed off towards LeRoy’s to see if we could get some idea of how we were going to get this window. The one window we are most concerned about right now is on the first storey. The existing one has a round vent in it that broke a long time ago and now is stuck in the open position. As a result it is sucking in the cold air from the outside and causing the house to be really trapping the cold air.

We still only have one small portable heating unit and it’s in one room so we are trying to keep the house as “air tight” and warm as possible. This particular window is contributing to the issue of us loosing heat all the time. Right now, Dude has covered it up with tin foil and a band to hold it on, but that is not too ascetically pleasing.

The issue with this particular window, though, is that when you measure the window frame from the inside it is 80cm, but when you measure the window on the outside it is 73cm. This is due to the way they stuccoed the house. So it’s sort of an issue in trying to find the best size to put in the space.

Also, we have kind of decided that since we have not yet painted or put the floors in, it might be a good idea to redo this one bathroom and get all the dirty work out of the way before we move forward with the finish work. This way we aren’t ripping the bathroom apart and working around newly painted walls and tiled floors.

Once we made it to LeRoy, we were greeted with the other bazillion people trying to get something done on a Saturday. We headed over to the windows and Dude took some measurements, but nothing was the right fit. We then head to the customer service counter and we did have some luck in the fact that we found someone who spoke really good English to explain our little window issue. He was very helpful and asked us all kinds of questions and Dude was able to tell him what the situation was. Unfortunately, they said the window would have to be special ordered to the tune of nearly 400 Euros. Just one window at 400 Euros! Who the heck in France has the money for this outrageous prices they charge! On top of the fact that it would take 5-6 weeks to get it (of course it will, this is France). So we told the guy there that we needed to go back and really verify the measurements cuz if we did end up ordering this thing and it didn’t  work, then we would have waited 5-6 weeks for nothing and spent 400 Euros for nothing and be right back to square one. Also this is going to hold up our bathroom job and now our house is still going to be left in the unfinished mode. All because of one stupid window! Dude is going to go back to the drawing board and double check everything (but in theory he does that anyway so I know his measurements are most likely spot on). Then we will make another stab at it.

After LeRoy’s we headed over to IKEA (yes-I broke down and went, but just for a looksee). I was pleasantly surprised that they had some free standing items that we could consider for the kitchen. They were actually made of real wood and had a more classique/traditional look which is what I would really like. We took measurements of everything we liked and tried to see if we could somehow mix and match to get things to fit. Unfortunately, nothing they had would fit into the spaces we have. The big issue with our kitchen is that the whole thing is a shell with the exception of the sink. The old owners put in a sink (that is quite big and rather nice), but they built it into the kitchen with a specially made cabinet and some concrete. We are trying very hard to work around this because if not, we have to do more tear-out. I really don’t want to do this cuz then we just have to go back and repair and this is continuously putting us behind in the remodel process. Another thing is that there are all these doors in the kitchen to protect the house against the cold. Working around these has been a bit of a pain, as well. It limits what you can put where.

So basically we ran around all day trying to get to the next step and came home with nothing except two light bulbs. This doesn’t really make for a fun time.

I have to be honest and say that Dude and I have hit a wall of depression on this. Not because of the house itself, but because in France it’s so difficult to get anything done and what you can manage to do just costs too much. Inflating prices (for crappy materials) and the fact that you just can’t get stuff you need to work is really taking its toll on us. I am starting to think that we will be in just one room for a long time. The problem with our one room is that it’s the only one in the house not insulated against the cold.

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About backyardprovence

I was finally able to realized my dream of living in France when I moved here in 2010. I love to read,I love history and road trips. I want to be doing anything outside in the fresh air. I want to have an entire room devoted to a personal library.

Posted on October 23, 2011, in The House of the Farmer and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 14 Comments.

  1. Chin up love – we have been here 7 years and still have draughty old windows, you’ll cope I promise. I can’t believe you feel the need to retile that delicious bathroom floor – you should see ours! Our bathroom and separate toilet windows have little slats in the top that you can louver open – trouble is they are so old they don’t close and even if they did they wouldn’t be air tight, but I feel fresh air is good for you! We tend to look about 4 dress sizes bigger in winter with all our extra layers.

    • Jacqui-
      You made my day! I cracked up about the 4 dresses sizes bigger. That’s about what we look like to! I didn’t want to retile the floor right away, but we plan on taking out the bidet (I only use it to prop up my feet to tie my shoes) and we are going to have to take out the tub, it is not in good condition even though it looks like it is. The floor is actually cheap linoleum which only goes to the tub, not under it and once we pull out the bidet it’s going to get a bit wrecked so it will have to go. Besides absolutely hating to be really super duper cold, Dude is worried about our electric bill. Coming from southern California we are just wimps when it comes to the cold. I think our blood isn’t think enough to work in this part of the world 🙂

  2. I’m the first one to gush about all the great things in French culture, but something I never give high marks for is exactly what you said: their idea of providing services to a customer is borderline ridiculous. We Americans tend to dream about the slow, take-it-easy pace of life in Europe, but we never ponder what happens to the poor clients of these people who actually need a bit of work done on the other end. And I’m sure I don’t need to mention the speed at which they handle administrative paperwork! I love France through and through, but I dare say the word “lazy” comes to mind occasionally. Not everyone is like this (my wife is a veritable workaholic), but it’s widespread enough that I somehow wonder how the country doesn’t fall apart altogether, haha.

    • Corey-
      Ha Ha! Dude and I have wondered the exact same thing. Every time we go to do something he always comments that this place is not going to make it! I, too, love France through and through, but not when it comes to projects. I use to think that French people never finished a project. I would drive by all these houses and there would be all these unfinished projects going on. I thought it was because these people were lazy, but I really think it’s because they can never get the materials they want, when the want and they just get burned out by it and CAN’T finish. I’m at that point, but just too driven to leave unfinished work. Dude has threatened a few times to call it a day, as well. I do love writing about it though as it is the best therapy I can find. I will vent a bit, get over it and then something good will happen and then I will write about that. I already feel better cuz great people like you who write me comments make me laugh and make my day. It helps keep me in line and to remember that I’m not the only one who thinks and feels this way 🙂

  3. Well Ashley, it sounds like you have had another great day out in France. Why don’t you hop on a Ferry across to UK for a weekend. You could source all of the stuff you need, the shops are open all day Saturday and Sunday. I know you would have the cost if the ferry but at least we are pretty good at speaking English ( most of us anyway), so we would understand what you are after.

    • Stephen-
      You have no idea how many times that thought has crossed Dude’s mind. He was dead serious, too! I definitely know there are a lot of people who do that cuz I hear them complain about the materials and prices just like I do. I belong to this expat network and there are so many of them that go to the UK on a monthly basis to get stuff cuz they just can’t get it here and if they can the prices are outrageous. So, you never know. If you see a man in a van trying to cross the border from the UK to France with a bunch of materials in it and he gets caught and put on the evening news, listen to see if they call him Dude. You’ll know that we must have hit that desperate hour!

  4. The thing I miss the most about the US is how convenient everything is there. Getting stuff done in France is like pulling teeth… slowly, and painfully.
    When we need to run errands, we do it first thing Saturday morning, trying to beat the crowds as much as possible and hopefully getting things done before the dreaded lunch hour closings!
    Best of luck to you! 🙂

    • Sara-
      Thanks for the luck! We can always use some of that. This is becoming very painful just like you said. I haven’t been able to give up my American thought process that stores need to be open late during the week and open all day on Sunday. I’m not sure if I’ll ever be ok with it not being that way. I have to confess that for me, it is also the thing I miss most. Starbucks and a real large coffee would be second.

  5. Keep your courage. You are making progress, albeit slower than you like. I am impressed with everything you guys are doing yourselves. I would kindly say, don’t turn up your nose at IKEA. They have more nice traditional pieces of furniture than you might think. Except for pieces we have picked up from brocantes and our country table in the kitchen, we have bought almost everything in our house there. Wife Shirley is an expert at putting IKEA furniture together. I think at one point she counted she had assembled 23 or 24 pieces. Oh, while she is doing that, I am cooking for her. We like it that way.

    • Michel-
      I did find some decent things that would work at IKEA and I was all kinds of excited at the find. I am disappointed that they just wouldn’t fit. I did go for a look, so I have to give myself a vain pat on the back since I was so against it a while back. I think that we may have found a solution to our kitchen woes, though, but that will be for a future post 🙂 I did find some great stuff at antiques stores but what I want is out of my price range so I quickly let that go, too. I have big taste but not a pocketbook to match! Sounds like you and your wife have a good deal going. It’s great that you cook and she does the “construction”. She definitely beats me with getting the furniture put together! I’m lucky if I can even help Dude with stuff like that. I confess I’m just not that handy. So far in this house project I have been just a “helper”!

  6. This was just what I needed. I’m sitting here in a sloppy, homesick – for- Aix puddle of tears, and it’s so good to be reminded of what is NOT great about France. Not that there’s much!
    Honestly, I’d trade all my American conveniences in a heartbeat to be back…

    • Megan-
      I felt the same way when I was living in The States. I still do, but man, sometimes the inconveniences here just send me!

      • I have to agree with Megan — at the end of the day I’m happy to deal with the occasional inexplicable frustration if it means getting all the good parts of French culture in return. And I’m saying this even after I just spent this past Friday at the préfecture waiting NINE HOURS to get 90 seconds worth of time at the guichet to pick up a visa document!! I sooo deserve all the beautiful architecture and cheese coming my way…

      • Corey-
        I sooo agree with you! You go get that cheese and add some wine to it for all your trouble 🙂 Isn’t that prefecture stuff just the most fun you could ever think of having??!! Man, after all the nightmare stuff that happens, going out on road trips in the biggest rejuvenation for me. That what keeps me going here and those are the days I say over and over again, “I love being in France”!

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