The Tuiles Are Flying

Before letting you know how my tuiles came to be flying, I will give you some background on why I am even using that word.

See, the word tuile in French, means tiles as in roof tiles. Since starting this crazy renovation project I have come to learn construction words in French that I had either rarely used or never used in English. The result of this has been the extreme use of Franglish in our household when dealing with anything of the construction mind. I admit, it is now getting a bit ridiculous. It seems that the sentences that Dude and I form while speaking about what we are going to be doing with the house, or where we will be going for the day to get les materiaux has turned into this hodge-podge of mixed-up, messed-up and made up language. We are now even to the point where we don’t say any construction words in English! We just interject the French words into our English sentences. It seems that Franglish has become a living language to us.

Now the words “roof tiles” were definitely know to me, but I was born and raised in Southern California and I swear I could have used the words “roof tiles” all of two times in my entire life. See, nobody in SOCAL has roof tiles. We don’t use tiles for our roofs there (well maybe the occasional person would, but they would be few and far between-also those people would be rich cuz tuiles in the states are significantly more expensive than here). Score one point for France on that.

Also, I’ve never done a construction project in my life so I would have no use for the words anyway. Here, however, I swear I use the word tuile every single day especially since we are having our roof redone and in the meantime have had to buy replacement tuiles for the broken or loose fitting ones to hold us over. Dude and I have shopped ‘til we dropped for all things roof wise over the past several months, hence my new word.

I suppose this has been a good way to learn new vocabulary, but it has posed one issue for me. I have found that I now know only the French word for some of this construction stuff and I never knew the English word for it. This leads me to say to myself, or Dude, “What the heck is this in English?” when shopping at stores. Oh wait, I just thought of another issue. I’ve used the French construction words here so much, that I’ve forgotten what the word was in English, too. Yup, that’s really happened and it’s becoming more apparent, too.

So back to my story of losing my tuiles. Well, as I posted a while back, we are having our roof redone. Dude and I found an artisan who we liked and the price was right so we took the plunge. We gave the artisan all he needed so that he could pull the permit at the Maire. Right around mid-December he sent in his little application to them, well guess what?? In typical French fashion, the permit is not ready, yet. In the meantime our house has temporary tuiles on the roof. By temporary I mean that they are just hanging around up there just loose lying so the plastic on the roof will stay down in case of rain. Apparently lose lying tuiles are the norm here. I’ve been told that when they are overlaid the weight helps to keep them down. Yah…..right. Well ours are overlaid, but that isn’t working too well.

So far on the windy days that have passed here in Provence, we’ve been ok. This means that the tuiles have either stayed in place on the roof or one or two have moved out of position and Dude has had to go up on the roof and put them back. Well, this past week we ran into issues. The wind has been very strong on some days (up to 95+ km/hr). Before this week, the tuiles had been put to the test in about 80+ km/hr winds and they had moved a bit, but no big deal. Well, two nights ago we had the strongest gusts that we have ever had since moving here and all our tuiles got blown everywhere. As Dude and I were watching “The Karate Kid” (that’s a good movie by the way, just so you know) we heard and felt the most ferocious gust of wind ever. Then at that moment we heard all this racket up on the roof. Kind of like…maybe… ceramique tuiles breaking and getting tossed around like a rag doll? Yup-I think that was the sound.

So we jumped up and Dude grabbed his flashlight so we could open the roof window to see the damage. Sure enough, no tuile on the ridge was left in place. Some of them had even blown more than half way down the roof. The problem for us was that Dude couldn’t go out and fix them at that moment. One, it was pitch, black dark and two, the gusts were just too dangerously strong for him to be 12-14 meters up in the air. We were just going to have to hope for the best. That night, all-night long, and yesterday the wind blew really strong and we kept hearing noise on the roof. Yesterday afternoon, I looked out our second story bathroom window and one of the tuiles had been blown off the roof and it landed in our neighbor’s garden and shattered into little pieces.

Normally I wouldn’t be too worried, but now that the wind has been this strong, it poses a danger. What would have happened if someone was in the yard at the time and got hit? It could very well have killed the person. I have gone to the Maire and told them to please hurry up with this permit since not only are the tuiles a danger, but if it rains really hard the water will enter our house and continue to ruin the interior walls and ceiling. We have been working on getting the roof and façade done for a couple of months and it continues to be an issue to make it happen. There should have been no reason why the same day the artisan gave all the info to the Maire that they just couldn’t issue a permit then. Wow, way too simple for France!

So now, with the broken tuiles I have to go back to the Maire and let them know again that this is really urgent and can they please hurry it up. It’s not like I live in a large town will thousands upon thousands of people trying to pull construction permits. How many of these permits could they be giving out? There’s a whole section in our Maire called Urbanisme which is dedicated to just this sort of thing. They need to get busy cuz vacation is now over.

For now, the wind has finally stopped after 5 days of madness so Dude will be on the roof again sometime during the day putting back all the tuiles. I think we might have to go to the store and buy one or two for the ones we lost. We need to be ready for the next high winds. So far the meteo report says it will be slightly windy but no gusts, although these days, the reports change daily.

We will continue to be a bit nervous until the work is done and it makes me more anxious since I don’t have a concrete date from anyone, yet. Just having that would make me feel like we are continuing to head in the right direction.


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 January 7, 2012, in The House of the Farmer and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 10 Comments.

  1. I guess the Marie stops work during the year end holidays or they just have a policy of being slow. Seems like they would issue your permit right away with your flying tuiles being a danger to passerbys and water damage from rain being a real possibility. Good luck with getting them to give you your permit. I hope your artisan will start work right away once you get the permit and don’t have to wait for him to do a dozen other jobs before he starts yours.

    • Hi Michel- Yes the Maire slows down over the holidays as most of the city workers are on vacation. Once the permit is given it will very much depend on how many jobs our artisan has going already at the time. Hopefully, for our sake not much. I hope to hear some better news this week when I make another stop by the town hall. Sometimes they do surprise me…in a good way.

  2. When I saw the Meteo for Provence this week I did think of you 😦 Fingers crossed that the wind has died down and the permit arrives very soon.

    • Hi Jacqui- The wind has died down some but it seems that those guys over at lied to me. They said it would be windy over the next couple of days at around 30 km/hr but no gusts. Unfortunately since this afternoon the gusts are back. They are not as strong as before but are still blowing pretty good. Thanks for thinking of me. Continue to keep those fingers (and toes) crossed for us. I know it helps.

  3. Do you also find when you’re in the US that you’re torn between pronouncing a French word anglisized or frenchie? The latter sounds pretentious and the former sounds just plain wrong. SOCAL native here, too. Do you forget all the faux Spanish architecture in all the new towns with their red tile roofs? (By the way, I found endless controversy about roofs vs rooves by Googling the spelling and usage.)

    • Hi Lee- I never had the problem when in the states, but I think it was because all day long I was talking in English and if I used a French word it was a word that we had adopted ions ago and it’s pretty much the only word that exists. For example the word “bouquet”. That’s the only word I know for a bouquet of flowers. If there is an English word equivalent, I have no idea what it would be. Here in France the problem is that all day long at the office and any where outside of the house, I am only speaking French. In the home we only speak English. I am torn because I am literally “caught” between the two languages! The times that are the worst is when I simply cannot think of a word or phrase in either language and I just stand there with this glazed look on my facing searching in the depths of my brain for something that won’t come. I hate that. And yes I did forget about the Spanish architecture. Where we lived everyone had slate roofs so I wasn’t around it much. By the way, I’ve never seen the word “rooves” I will have to remember that one. Maybe it is more British English than American?

  4. Your family’s Franglish reminds me of the time I was speaking in English & couldn’t for the life of me think of “trashcan”, so I just said “poubelle” and moved on. I find the average brain is all-too-happy to mash together any languages it may have at its disposal.

    I’m familiar with this random word “tuile” for two specific reasons — first it’s where the Jardin des Tuileries in Paris got its name, due to the area’s link with tile production. Second, not sure if you’ve come across them yet, but my sister-in-law often makes “tuiles” for dessert, which are basically thin crispy sugar cookies rounded in the shape of — well, exactly the shape of your roof tiles. So far these tasty treats haven’t killed any passers-by…although they’ve only seen winds equal to us blowing on them to cool them off.

    • Hey Corey-Don’t you just hate that when you get this vacant, black hole in your head and you can’t for the life of you remember what the word is in English! It sounds incredible since that is the native tongue we speak, but it happens and it’s so frustrating. It’s worse when you can’t think of the word in English or French and you just stand there trying to get something to come to the front of your brain so you can just go on with what you saying, but nothing ever comes to mind!
      I am familiar with the Jardin des Tuileries but never knew how it got its name. Thanks for history lesson number 2 today:) I have not heard of the dessert that your sister makes, but they sound great. Any chance of a shipment to France in the near future?

  5. Hi! I hope you guys get that roof fixed quickly! I fell your pain, after living through a reno where rain poured through an uncompleted roof. And, even though here I sit in Maryland, I have been taking French lessons and studying very hard and I find that I am thinking simple words in French first. The first time it happened I was very happy . . .hoping the language finally concretes into my old brain.
    A, still trying to get started on the kitchen here . . .my husband wants to start improving the barn . . .too many things to fix around here too!!
    Oh, didn’t get a chance to reply to those gorgeous pictures from earlier in the week . . .thank you . . loved learned, reading about, and looking at the photos you posted.
    Looking forward to hearing when you get the permit!

    • Hi Debra- I see that your 19+ years is still ongoing for the reno! I’m gonna lose it if I go that long. I’m projecting that we should be pretty much done by August 1st. That will be the one year date from when we started. I’m using the power of positive thinking (I think I have to be positive to use it, right?) Keep studying the French. I know it’s hard when you live in the English language everyday, but it will come. Do you have DISH or DirecTV? I think one of those has an all French channel. I subscribed to it when I first went back to the states after leaving Aix-en-Provence. It was terrific and I had the channel on all day long. I just can’t remember which company it was. Check into it if you can.
      Thanks for the kudos on the photos. It really was a nice place to spend the day. Future posts will definitely be called for when I hear more news about the permit.

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