Village houses in the Pyrénées-Orientales

More French village houses for your delectation in this lovely department bordering the Aude; we drive through these villages when we go down to the apartment at Argeles.

We have found a new route down over the mountains and will post this road trip later this week.

This large village house in St Paul de Fenouillet is an Auberge and it’s colour palette of true terracotta, cream and pale grey/green shutters works extremely well.

Very Roussillonais. Then we have this gorgous old house in  the square in Caudiès-de-Fenouillèdes which always looks uninhabited. Will be  a story there, but it is a shame. Again, perfect palette.


lastly, one in Maury, where we always stop for a good lunch. This one has charcoal painted balconies and shutters and they look amazing.

This department is now part of Occitanie, and P.O is the last stretch between the Aude and Spain, of course, via the Pyrenees.

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Episode 161- the kitchen ceiling, inspiration from 13th century Domaine at Luc-sur-Aude

You remember the horrible kitchen ceiling?  The one I demolished and then started wondering about half way through if the insulation tile was asbestos? horrible kitchen ceiling post

In common with most old and some new French houses, the ceilings are often plank floor on joists with no heat or sound insulation, Some of these old ceilings are lovely and it might be hard to consider covering them.

Our kitchen ceiling is part of the mid 20thc barn/wine cave conversion so it’s not old. So, we are inspired by the whitewashed herringbone lambris ceilings (tongue & groove) at the Domaine de Castillou, venue of last weekend’s wedding Castillou  You can’t see them on the link photos but, trust me, they are beautiful in that 13thc building. Trevor is creating the same Chez Nous. This phone does distort perspective but here is first and second section.

He has fitted bearers ( 3cm x 1.5cm  unplaned softwood ) along each joist for the lambris to fit on top of. I painted each piece of lambris with a single light coat along the grain as we want the character of the wood to show through.

I used a trade emulsion designed specifically for ceilings in kitchens and bathroom. M.Bricolage’s basics range; it’s a dirty rather than a bright white (which I like) and has none of that nasty blue “brilliant” white tint in it that I loathe and detest.

We could use a more authentic paint, but this is a kitchen and it must be fit for purpose. Jury is out on how we will finish the joists, a wash or solid colour?

We are insulating above with our carbon zero UK stuff. Hard to find here. It will not deaden all noise from above but should certainly reduce it.

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Knock Knock- Qui est là?

After 11 years of not having a clue who is outside the front door; unless we are hanging out of a front window; we have finally mounted the door knocker.

In deference mainly to friends who stand outside shouting up to us in the often forlorn hope of being let in, but also to Madame La Poste  who very quickly established the fact that, mostly, we don’t hear her light tap and she spends much time writing Iwillcomebacklater cards and shoving those through the letterbox, we have put up our brass fish.

Very appropriate with trout river Aude at the bottom of the street

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Wedding of the decade

No, not mine.

I have had the privilege of being involved in the beautifully conceived and elegantly styled design and production of my friend Beverly Lambert’s French Rustique Vintage Chic wedding.

A ceremony at Esperaza Mairie on Friday will be followed by a celebration on Saturday in a sylvan setting  of charming, tree canopied grounds around a beautiful old house set high above the hills behind Luc-sur- Aude.

The venue, the food and the frock are all exceptional. Mis en scene parfait.

Here is a trial run of the table settings, featuring vintage glass, silverware and china and antique tablecloths and napkins  from The Bride’s amazing collection.

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Blog Moot

This is how we water the floral displays down here in Quillan.

Whilst balancing on the back of a pick up truck.

Anyway, blog- buddies, I was going to suggest a meet up soon. We could do this Ent style in a clearing in the forest but that’s not really practical so how about in Carcassonne?

I think Francetaste may be able to recommend the most suitable cafe venue in the main square in the Ville Basse . I would really love this to happen next month but it’s probably too late to make arrangements now for most of you so how about next Spring?

We are such an interesting and diverse bunch doing so many different things that I truly believe we could each enjoy and perhaps even benefit from such a get-together.

I know a few of you are up for this momentous event already; so please, any of you, contact me if this idea appeals and I will make it happen, I promise.


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Housses de coussin and antimaccassars

Ok, what is an antimaccassar?  for those of you who may be less obsessed with the minutiae of textiles than I am. they are small fabric mats placed over the back of chairs to protect them. Mainly, in the Victorian period, to prevent men’s hair products (macassar oil!) from marking the furniture.

These are often neglected by vintage collectors as any decorative design will usually be at the front only. I love them and they make perfect small, rectangular cushions.

This beautiful linen pair with Jacobean tree of life embroidery have been made up super-simple. Just sewn up on three sides and tape  attached on the open end to tie up with a  bow. They are in my French salon now  and look great.

The tree of life motif is a big love of mine and echoes of it will appear all over this house. It influenced French textiles via the “indienne” fabrics imported (initially via Marseille)  from the 17thc onward. Enterprising French  cloth manufacturers started developing printing processes to create their own versions of these ancient   images.

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Episode 160- the penultimate bit of plasterboarding

This was the entrance to the kitchen when we bought the French house.

You may struggle to see all the improvements but we can!

Above and to the left of the doorway (in which there will be no door) there is now a run of pipework from the shower room above.

Fitting modern conveniences into these old village houses is never easy but our solution is the best possible option here and it is coming together with a degree of satisfaction. The massive lintel mounted here was stashed in a corner in the workshop and I have had it earmarked for this use for a while. The usual  discussion about whether to use the spirit level or follow the line of the doorway  was had and in the end we went with the existing level. We have to in this house. Nothing is straight.

The last bit of plasterboarding over the doorway was completed as a jigsaw because there is not a single right angle or straight line in this area but also because I am determined to use every bit of our stashed building materials. No one will know when it’s skimmed.

It looks good to us. More character put back into our stripped out house. It really is worth all this fiddly stuff.


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