02 August 2006

Le Barbecue et la maison

Scott of Needs More Garlic mentioned our barbecue grill in a recent comment. Well here it is in context. This is our house and yard with the grill — slightly distorted in the picture because of the wide angle photo I pieced together from two images.

Our house at La Renaudière, known as Les Bouleaux ("the birches")

The house itself is very typical of houses built in this part of France in the 1960s and 1970s. It's a concrete block structure covered with a kind of stucco. The roof is made of heavy tiles. The floors are ceramic tile throughout (except one bedroom, which is carpeted).

The reason the house has a name is that it was built before the streets in the village were named and numbered. La Renaudière is a hamlet, or hameau, which is a small group of houses — sort of a sub-village.

The barbecue grill, or le barbecue in French, is a standard item here. You see grills exactly like this one in yards all over the region. We bought ours at the Bricomarché home improvement store across the river in Noyers-sur-Cher.

This grill is a standard item in our area.

We saw it in a sales flyer one Saturday morning a couple of years ago and raced over to the store to buy one. The sale price was €125 — a steal. And we were lucky enough to get the last one available that day.

The grill is made up of eight separate pieces of concrete. We were able to get about half the pieces into our little Peugeot and haul them home. They were the smaller top pieces, and we had no trouble getting them out of the car. Then we drove back to get the larger pieces. Store employees loaded them into the car for us. When we got them home, we realized we might not be able to get them out without some help.

We waited two days, trying to figure out how we would lift them out of the car and how we would move them to the back of the house. First we needed to decide where the set the grill up. We didn't have a hand truck, but we realized our neighbor Bernard did. He was glad to lend it to us.

On Sunday we plotted and planned, and on Monday we needed to use the car so we had to tackle the job. Well, we were able to do it without hurting ourselves. But over the past two summers we realized we had set up the grill in a spot that is basically a wind tunnel. The fire burned too fast. So we had to move it again. We also needed to get it out of the path of our new sewer connection. It wasn't as hard to move the second time, and in the meantime we had acquired our own hand truck.

The grill and the house are very typical and nothing extra-
ordinary here. We have a gravel surface all around the building, as do many or most houses here. The gravel has two advantages: it makes a nice, inexpensive patio and driveway surface, and walking on it makes enough noise that nobody can sneak up to the house!

We have vinyl patio furniture, white, just like everybody else here. Well, some people have dark green. We recently were given a set of six new outdoor chairs as a gift (thanks, CHM) so we have chairs for a crowd.

One of the extraordinary things about our house, by the way, is that it has very big windows all around. It's very light and airy compared to many other houses we've seen.

A weather note: the predicted high temperature today is 18ºC. That's just short of 65ºF. Brrr. What a contrast with our July weather. One week ago today we hit our high for the season thus far: 95ºF (35ºC).

We are taking advantage of the cool weather to do some cooking: celery soup, apple sauce, apple jelly. We have lots of apples on our trees, and this gives us a chance to use some of them. The soup and the apple sauce go into the freezer for wintertime eating.


  1. Thanks for the closeup, Ken, as well as the description of your home. I love the crushed stone around the house too - much more sensible than a deck that needs to be stained and sealed constantly, which is what my house has. Allison and I want to build our own home someday, and our plans include a patio rather than a deck, as well as a barbecue/wood oven in the yard.

  2. The gravel all around the house is river rock. It's quarried along the Cher and Loire rivers. The pebbles are mostly smooth and come in a variety of colors. It makes a nice surface.

  3. It's interesting to see your house. I thought all expats lived in de la vieille pierre!
    This makes me feel better as I have only lived in fairly modern houses here!

  4. No, no vieille pierre for us. We didn't want too many surprises after we moved in. The picture here shows the back of the house. I'll post a picture of the front in a day or two. Enjoy the USA.


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