19 May 2015

Du bois, en veux-tu ? En voilà !

Today is wood-stacking day — again. And that's a good thing, even if it is hard work.Yesterday I called the local firewood vendor we found out about a few weeks ago while shopping for a new wood-burning stove for our living room. He's located in the town of Vallières-les-Grandes, near Amboise, about 20 miles from Saint-Aignan.

This wood is a mix of chêne (oak) and charme (an excellent firewood sometimes called ironwood in the U.S.).

A woman answered the phone when I called the number at about 10:00 a.m. She was very helpful, taking my order for 3 stères (or cubic meters) of firewood cut into logs 33 centimeters long (that's 13 inches). I asked her if 3 stères was a big enough order for them to be willing to fill. It's not quite a full cord. We needed the wood delivered to the house. She said fine, no problem. My husband is out on a delivery now, and he will call you as soon as he can. I gave her our address and phone number.

Callie had to come outside and sniff the wood to make sure it was okay.

In the past, we've always bought 1-meter-long logs, and Walt has spent many days cutting them into three pieces during August, September, and October so that we'd be ready for the heating season. Last year the man we bought wood from didn't deliver it until October, after promising to have it here in July. One year we got a delivery of 14.5 stères (4 cords), enough for three winters' burning, at a bargain price. Other years, we've ordered between 3.5 and 5 stères each time. Last winter was a mild one so we have some wood left over for next winter to supplement this load as needed.

Campanules (bellflowers) growing by the front door

This time, no cutting will be required. The logs are already the right size to fit into our old wood stove, if we decide to keep it, or into any new one we might have installed this summer. Most people here do heat at least partially with wood, as we do. It's a lot less expensive that heating with gas, fuel oil, or electricity alone, and wood is a sustainable resource in France. The government encourages heating with wood by giving people a 30% tax credit when they buy a new wood-burner.

I was surprised yesterday when the man who sells firewood called us back just before noon. He said one of his customers had canceled a delivery, so he could bring us our wood in the afternoon. Great, I said. We'll be here. Two young men with a truck full of wood arrived mid-afternoon and dumped the logs next to our carport. The cost was about 200 euros, but that's a bargain when you think that last year we paid 150 euros for the same amount of wood, not to mention 75 to 100 euros in chainsaw maintenance and gasoline.


  1. That's great. So you might postpone buying a new wood-burning stove until you find the right one at the right price and someone able to install it.

  2. One thing you didn't mention in the costing...
    the wear and tear on Walt!
    And his time at a minimum of 10€ per hour...

    Let alone those 30s are easier to shift and stack...
    I have worked out that the 50s delivered are well worth the small extra cost...
    so much easier to work with... so much easier...
    and the chainsaw wasn't liking working on two to three year old seasoned wood...
    so less wear and tear on that, too!
    Now you have the leisure to choose the right burner to fit in that lovely fireplace...
    as you say, the pressure is off!!

  3. Now seems like a good time to buy wood. We'll think about that ourselves soon and those shorter lengths are so much easier all round.

    1. Maybe this man who delivered wood for us would deliver for you too.

  4. Charme is called 'hornbeam' in Britain.

  5. Hornbeam I have heard of, but not ironwood (I wonder if that's a word more particular to certain parts of the U.S.?). But, I think I've only seen Hornbeam at the Botanical Garden. I've sure never heard of anyone having it for their firewood-- around here, anyway.

    Great great great that you were able to get the already-the-right-size log pieces!

    1. There's a North American charme that is called American Hornbeam (Carpinus caroliniana). The fact that it's called "American" hornbeam makes me think the name "hornbeam" is not much used in America. After all, we don't call our robins "American robins" or our squirrels "American squirrels" — they are just robins and squirrels. Wikipedia says there are a variety of regional names Carpinus caroliniana, including ironwood, musclewood, and blue beech. It grows from Minnesota to Maine in the north to Texas and northern Florida in the south and all over the eastern part of the country, apparently.

  6. Things seem to be falling in place. I'm so glad that you have found this supplier. The bellflowers are lovely.

  7. Yes, the bellflowers are pretty, and looks like you'll have some good blooms on those healthy hydrangeas next to them.

  8. Could you possibly say who the wood man is Ken please? I need chene but I didn't like hornbeam on my wood burner. It just didn't burn, but ash was almost as good as the chene. We imported our wood burner from the UK and need the meter lengths cut into three.

    1. Hello Christine, the firewood place is Entreprise Duval in Vallières les Grandes. Telephone 02 54 20 92 66. Not sure what you are saying about burning the hornbeam.

    2. Here is what I found on Wiki at Charme commun:
      Bois de chauffage, bon pouvoir calorifique et combustion lente et régulière grâce à son homogénéité.


  9. Thanks. I stand corrected on the hornbeam!


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