Last Saturday, Dude and I headed over to the stores near Toulon to see what we could find in the way of flooring. We’ve been taking a little break from the house remodel to skip around Provence and do some sight-seeing, but this weekend Dude said he wanted to get our bedroom finished and that meant a trip to some home improvement stores.
First stop was Castorama. It turns out that they were having their anniversary weekend so some sales were happening as well as the fact they were going to be open on Sunday. Wow, bonus for us just in case we needed something last minute on Sunday. Try as we might, and we did, nothing in the way of flooring popped out at us. We looked long and hard down every aisle and just couldn’t seem to agree on anything we liked. I did find something called “Floor in a Box”, but figured that was a bit on the cheesy side so it was decided a no-go for us.
Looked easy, though. I wonder if they sell this stuff at Wal-mart?! I’m guessing that, yes, they do 🙂 That’s probably where this stuff came from!
This particular day was a strange one for shopping at Castorama. Throughout the time we were there someone was constantly doing these crazy announcements for items on sale in different aisles. It turns out that there was some guy in a suit walking around the store with a microphone hosting his own “Let’s Make A Deal” show right there in the store! This happened once before to me several months ago while I was in Carrefour doing market shopping. I kind of think this is weird. It makes me feel like I am back in the 1970’s in the USA cuz we did stuff like that there when I was a kid. I was all ready to bust out my Blue Chip Stamps and hand them over to the guy in the tweed suit! I couldn’t stop laughing as Dude and I were in the checkout line (buying the few odds and ends we did find). It just made me giggle thinking how in the here and now, these French stores are doing what we did in America about 35-40 years ago! It even made my day when I saw a lady in the store totally wearing this retro outfit of tiger-striped, form fitting, stretchy pants and matching boots. Please Doc, set my DeLorean back to 2012!
Out in the parking lot we continued to hear the guy making his announcements. Apparently they had rigged the parking lot speakers for him, too!
With Castorama a no go for us, we headed down the street to LeRoy-Merlin. Lucky for us, the two stores are only about 5 minutes from each other (45 minutes when all the French are out shopping at the same time…..tells you a lot don’t it). It just so happened to be the dejeuner bewitching time though, and since we don’t have the same time schedule as the French, not that many people were out so we made it in roughly 10 minutes.
LeRoy-Merlin was super crowded. So this is where everyone and their mothers had gone! (I guess they had all forfeited lunch today). This place was a mad house and for some odd reason they didn’t have the air-conditioning on. After only 10 minutes in the store, I had to go out and take a breather.
The aisles were jam-packed with shoppers. It turns out that LeRoy-Merlin decided to pull some punches at Castorama and they were having their own Fete de la Maison. There were specials galore and with the Carte de Maison we found out that we were going to get an extra 15% off! I love it when that happens, but darn, now I had to go stand in line to get the dang card if we found something we wanted to buy!
Off to the flooring aisles we went. But wait, what was that sound? Why are there drums and loud music being played in the middle of the store? Why are there all these people gathered around in the main aisle of the store and blocking everyone else from going by??!! I didn’t have time for this. I need some flooring!
Well H-E-L-L-O, this is why there had been a crowd
Check out the guy on the left and his look. Priceless. Oh and the kid has the best angle I can see. Boy, his teen years are going to be interesting. Better warn his future wife about what she’ll need to buy.
As far as the crowd goes, you guessed it peeps, it was mostly men blocking the way. What in the heck do scantily clad show girls have to do with a home improvement store?? NOTHING? And if you were to say everything, as Dude did, well fine, but where are my scantily clad show guys?? HUH??!! I want some fairness when going to get my materials, dang it.
What is becoming of these stores, I wanna know. “Let’s Make A Deal” in one store and show girls in another!! Come on, people. These guys (gals) were so thrilled to be there all dressed up (or hardly dressed) that they even posed for a photo.
By the way, I was not the only one who was taking pictures. The look on people’s faces as these guys were waltzing through LeRoy’s was priceless. Smiles on the guy’s faces and bewilderment on the girl’s faces!
Good grief. To top it all of, the lady that I saw at Castorama (you remember), the one with the tiger-striped, form fitting, stretchy pants and matching boots, well there she was right in front of me at this store, too! Only here, she didn’t really fit in, if you get my drift.
Man, get me to the flooring section, paleeeze!
Finally, after the ‘show’ was over, Dude and I made it over to the wood flooring (all the way he was asking me how come I don’t dress like those girls……really??).
We originally were thinking about going with tile, but in the end, decided that wood flooring would be the way to go. We struck gold at LeRoy-Merlin. They have a much larger selection of wood flooring than Castorama and almost right away we found what we wanted. Bonus, it was on sale, double bonus we also were going to get 15% off! Yes- I love that.
We needed to get one or two more things and then off to the front of the store we went. I went to stand in line for my coveted Carte de Maison while Dude went of to go look at the tools.
It took some time to get the card (of course it did). There was a line forming and only one lady working the counter (big surprise). After a bit of a wait, carte de maison in hand, off to the check out we went.
As we left the store, I couldn’t believe that we actually achieved something for the house that we set out to do that day. That usually doesn’t happen to us. Once we figured out how to put 11 boxes of flooring in our Renault (along with the other odds and ends we bought) we set off towards home totally feeling like low-riders and hoping our car didn’t bottom out on the way! Good news, we made it just fine. Bad news (for Dude) I am not buying one of those show girl outfits….he can just forget it.
So, today was the day that all the materials needed for the work on our house were to arrive. I received confirmation of this last night via an SMS message from the guy who’s been organizing this project. He said that a truck with all the materials will be at my house around 9:30am today and could I please leave my portail (gate) open so they could drive right in for the drop of.
This morning I got up and went down to open the gate around 8:45am just in case they arrived earlier.
Well, 9:30am arrived and I get a call from the guy who tells me that the people furnishing the materials can’t find my house and could I please call the main guy over at the store and tell him how to get to my house.
Okay-no problemo. So I take the number down and call over to the magasin to see what’s up.
The guy (whose name happens to be Guy, how convenient for me) tells me that he doesn’t know how to get to my house. So begins a “Who’s on First” type of conversation the main reason being that this Guy happens to be one of those Frenchmen who doesn’t enunciate (seriously a word slurer big time) and on top of that, he spoke at the speed of light and lastly, it was a PHONE conversation(always difficult anyway). For me, that’s three strikes and I’m out on the comprehension.
Did you ever watch the Peanuts Gang cartoon? You know when Charlie Brown is at school and the teacher is talking to him and all he hears is…Wawa..wa. Yup-that’s what I heard. I was, in fact, in Charlie Brown’s seat at school this morning.
Here is the excerpt of my conversation (sorry it will be in English for my non-francophone amis):
Me: Hello, this is Madame Fisher. I received a call saying you couldn’t find my house.
Guy: Yes, I don’t know where you live. Can you..wawa..wa wawa..wa.. I have the truck and wawa..wa.
Me: I don’t understand. Are you in (my town).
Guy: Wawa..wa.. wawa..wa. the town with the swimming pool at the round-a-bout.
Me: Oh, you’re near the swimming pool? Then go around the round-a-bout, direction “centre ville”. Go through the town with all the magasins on both side of the main street. Then there is a STOP sign at the end of the street. Continue to go straight and then at the first street go right, then at the next first street go right and viola, chez moi.
Guy: No, no, problem. I can’t find wawa..wa wawa..wa.. I passed by the swimming pool.
Me: Okay. So are you at the swimming pool now.
Guy: Wawa..wa.. wawa..wa. your street and I didn’t find it.
Me: If you are at the swimming pool, no problem. I can go down there and then you can follow me back to my house.
Guy: Yes, follow you, but wawa..wa wawa..wa. not at pool.
Me: You’re not at the pool?
Guy: No and I wawa..wa wawa..wa. couldn’t find your house.
Me: Okay, if you’re not at the pool, where are you?
Guy: My house.
What the heck and what does the pool have to do with any of this!
Me: You’re at your house. What direction are you coming from so I can tell you how to get to my town.
Guy: No, I’m not coming from anywhere. I don’t know where you live and wawa..wa wawa..wa. Can you come get the truck at my house?
Are you kidding me! What in the world is this guy taking about!!?? It is not in the plan for me to go and get the truck from his house!
Me: I don’t understand what you are talking about.
Guy: You don’t understand?
I thought I just said that.
Me: No, I don’t understand. Mr. Supervisor said that the truck would be at my house today and now you are saying I have to go and get the truck at your house?! I can’t drive your truck!
Guy: wawa..wa wawa..wa wawa..wa.
Me: Look, where do you live? In what town?
Guy: (his town name).
Me: That is the town right next to me! I don’t understand why you can’t find me. Just go down the street and make a right just after the town sign and Viola, chez moi.
Guy: No, I tried to find your house and I can’t. The truck is at my house. It is also the magasin (name of magasin). Come get the truck.
Me: Oh, I know where you are. You are only 10 minutes away, but I can’t get your truck, why can’t you find my house?
Guy: wawa..wa wawa..wa, no you come to my house and truck will follow you.
Me: Ohh, I understand now. I will go to your store/house and then the truck can follow me back home.
Me: Okay, I will be there in 10 minutes.
After hanging up the phone, I was like, what the heck was that all about and where did the pool part come into play! Why didn’t he just say, “Come to my store and the truck will follow you home”.
Done. End of story. 2 minute conversation! But no, he goes and tells me about some pool and not finding me and I was about ready to be sent to the funny farm cuz there isn’t a dang person in my household other than me that could talk to this guy who slurs his words and talks at the speed of light! Seriously, half way through the 15 minute conversation (I did shorten it for you guys, excerpt remember?) I was picturing myself never seeing these materials end up at my house!
So I went to get Dude and told him to come on that we had to get the truck and they would follow us back home. In the 10 minute car ride that followed I had to tell Dude the phone conversation since he was not in the room to see the whole thing unfold in all its crazy glory. At that point, since I had finally figured out what the issue was, I was now cracking up while retelling the conversation still trying to figure out what the pool had to do with it.
We finally arrived at the magasin and the driver of the truck was waiting for us. He then followed us back to our house. When we got there he looked at our gate and said, “I don’t think the truck will make it through your gate”. I said, “Let’s try it”.
So he went back out to the main street to get into his truck and proceeded to turn this gigantic (by French standards) truck around on this tiny street so that he could make the turn onto my street. He did manage that, but then he had to be really careful down my street cuz it’s very narrow and there is a balcony hanging over the street from the house that is located on the right, which by the way has some chips in it due to drivers with big trucks not paying attention. I made sure he stayed to the left and warned him about the balcony. Before he could get too far, he was again worried about not making it past our gate and got out of his truck to call his supervisor. He said that his supervisor was coming over to take a look and to help out.
So there we were, standing out on the street, with this truck blocking my street, waiting for his supervisor to show up. By the way, the winds had kicked up again starting last night so it was pretty cold and we were getting a bit blown away. Just my luck that when the work is ready to begin we have to deal with the stupid winds!
Finally the supervisor showed up and guess what?? It’s Guy! Well, in person he was still a bit difficult to understand, but our conversation was better face to face. The first thing he did was to look at the street name and then tell me, “Oh, this is the street name you live on! I was in your town this morning but at a street with your name minus one word and it was way on the other side of town”. By the way, the street name is nearly identical to ours, but with one small different detail. I didn’t know this until today! Seems he didn’t either or he would have shown up on time.
Then he said, “I drove all around and couldn’t find your house so I had to go back to the magasin and call the person organizing this to tell him. Then you called me so I could explain”. Remember the phone conversation that I didn’t understand. Yup-like I said, “Who’s on First”!
Well, could this be the reason why the mentioning of the pool came into play??? I now think that during our phone conversation he was trying to tell me that he was over by the town pool when trying to deliver the goods earlier in the day and found my street but not my house so he went back to the store. I believe the mystery has been solved! Dang, if he was more of a clear and crisp speaker I probably would have gotten that point!
So he now proceeded to take a look at my gate and then said, “I don’t think it’s going to work, but I will get a tape measure to make sure”. He came right back, measured the gate and said, “Ce n’est pas possible, pas du tout.”
I got out my phone and proceeded to call the supervisor of the whole job to give him the bad news and to ask how he was going to fix this problem. Obviously no materials, means no work done. Guess what?? The call went straight to voice mail so I left a message for him. Then Guy said to me that the company would have to rent a small truck and go get the materials in several trips for it to work, but because it was Friday today it wouldn’t happen until Monday. He said that when the supervisor called me back to tell him to call Guy and he would explain everything about what must be done for Monday.
So we all shook hands and the man driving the truck drove away with all my materials in it. Just as Guy was driving away the supervisor of the job called so I flagged him down and handed him the phone to explain away. They conversed for a few minutes while I stood there freezing my tootsie off in the growing-ever-stronger gusts of wind. Then Guy handed me back the phone and the supervisor told me not to worry, it’s all handled for Monday. He said he was sorry about it!
Then after I hung up, Guy said they told him when ordering the materials that a big truck would work no problem. That’s true for the street and the space in my yard, but they forgot about passing through my gate! Viola!
Oh well, c’est la vie en France! In the meantime, the wind has really picked up here and our tuiles are once again singing and moving around the roof. It looks like we are in for a few days of heavy gusts again. I can’t wait until this is done and I don’t have to worry about it any longer. It seems that the rain hasn’t been our biggest problem this year, it’s been the wind! I would rather deal with the rain at this point because there isn’t a risk of it posing a threat to my neighbors. I hope the workers are able to come next week and get started. That will be a whole lot of stress off of us.
In the meantime, I had better practice my slurring of the French language. I think that’s a skill that could come in handy in the future.
By the way, for those of you not familiar with “Who’s On First”, here it is for your enjoyment. This classic is one of my all time favorites. It never gets old!
Dude and I spent most of this day at a couple of hardware stores. He had been busy gathering a list of what we were going to need in order to get this house useful.
So after much thinking (on his part cuz he’s the brains and I’m the beauty of this mission impossible) we decided to head over to LeRoy Merlin and get some idea of the prices that this money pit was gonna do us in for.
I find that the people who work in the tool department to be very helpful, indeed. I truly like them! The people who work in the extreme materials section are altogether a whole different ball of wax. They have to be the most unhelpful workers EVER! Maybe they only get minimum wage or something. If not, then they should be cuz they don’t do anything.
When we got to the extreme section, we couldn’t find prices on the things we needed and if we did, they weren’t even labeled right. Dude started to go ballistic because nothing was labeled and he needed to hurry up and stop wasting time in order to get the info for this so-called budget of ours.
He took some notes down and found a few prices, but we also had two extra irritants. The material names and packages looked nothing like we were used to in the states and we didn’t know what brand or type was best so we had to guess (since no one was being helpful).
Then, we found that some of the items we needed weren’t even in stock.
I went over to Mr. NonHelpful worker cuz he was the only guy around and asked when a certain item would be in stock. Do you know what he said?? He said, “I don’t know, maybe Friday or sometime next week.” Then Mr. NonHelpful worker just walked away. JUST WALKED AWAY! I couldn’t believe it. Way to go King Merlin (cuz that’s LeRoy Merlin in English).
So we were left again to fend for ourselves. We spent way to long there in our opinion so I had the brilliant idea of heading over to Point P to see if we could find what we needed there and get some comparative prices.
When we got there, I was pleasantly surprised by the helpfulness of these guys. They told me where I could find everything I needed. Dude and I walked over and found what we needed and guess what?? Mr. Helpful worker walked right up to us and asked us if we needed to find something specific. We showed him our over-budget list and he showed us where everything was and he was even patient enough to listen AND answer all our “I am a dumb American who bought an old house here” questions.
We thanked him and started doing our price comparisons. As we walked around and gathered our info, we happened upon some other things we might need in the future. You know what? Mr. Helpful came back over to see how we were doing and said if we needed anything to just ask.
I love this store!
While shopping around Dude and I started to get a little dazed and confused because the French put everything price wise into increments like per meter (regardless if you can even buy it that way). Why the heck would you put a per meter price on something when you can’t buy less than 3 meters of it? Just put the freakin’ price on the thing people! Why do these stores make you do the extra math to find out the prices! Hate it! You know why? Math is my worst subject so I just stood around checking things out and let Dude take care of that math stuff.
When we were done, we took our list and prices in to the store to have Mr. Helpful the second give us an accurate breakdown. He did it, too!
We left happy about the help, but not so happy about the prices. For what we needed it was going to cost a small fortune.
By the time we got back to the house it was getting to late to start any projects so Dude said he wanted to clean out the ducts above the kitchen vent. This should be good.
I ran for my camera cuz who knows what you’re gonna find in a house this old. As it turns out, Dude had me in stitches with his comments. What he found was a little gross and to hear a grown man say the word “buggies” just cracks me up.
Well, I think he is going to have to crawl up there to see what else he can find. I’m not doing it! As least we felt a little cleaner after that. He was so grossed out that he was the most willing person to take an ice cold shower (since we have no hot water in the house, yet). I forfeited cuz cold showers are not my thing.
So, I started to go downstairs to clean up and found this little guy hopping around near the top step.
I couldn’t believe he actually made it that far since it would have been quite the climb for him. As I went to get something to put him in to take him back outside, he decided to go visit Dude while he was in the shower. Little pervert. I scooped him up and took him back outside. Guess what?? He immediately hopped right back into the house and up the stairs! This time he was scooped up and taken way out into the garden. I haven’t seen him since, so I hope he is alright.
Next up for us is spending money. But first we need to go rent another truck because Benoit was not going to be able to help us out with getting the extreme materials to our house.