17 October 2015

Renovations and repairs

The hamlet we live in, two miles outside the town of Saint-Aignan-sur-Cher in the Loire Valley region, consists of nine houses. Three of them, including ours, are about 50 years old. The other six are much older (but I'm not sure how old they are). We are located on high ground above the Cher river valley, less than a mile from the river itself, surrounded by vineyards, ravines, and woods.

The old stucco (enduit, crépi) has been stripped off this stone house, exposing the stones.

I think most of the old houses were basically ruins 50 years ago. They were bought by people who set about fixing them up and making them into comfortable places to live. In other words, a new community of people was formed here in the 1960s and 1970s. Still, two of the houses were occupied only seasonally when we moved here 12 years ago, and now two others are just used from time to time, by people who live in the Paris area most of the year.

Old roof tiles are not replaced, but cleaned and put back into place on new wood slats.

As we all know, houses are always works in progress, just as towns, villages, hamlets, and châteaux are. Even the old houses around here have had wings and rooms added on over the years. I doubt that many of them of them look the way they used to.

The exposed stone will be hidden by stucco again, like this end wall, when the work is finished.

One of them would be hard to identify as an old farm house, so much has it been fixed up. One carries the name La Ruine, but it is far from being dilapidated nowadays. It's about the biggest and nicest house in the hamlet. It and another one might be counted among the nicest houses in the Saint-Aignan area.

Nearly all of the old houses have had their former greniers (haylofts)/attics converted into modern living space. Only our house had changed hands over the past dozen years — we bought it in 2002 — until recently, when newcomers to the hamlet bought a house three doors down from ours.

Here are some photos of ongoing renovations around the hamlet. Mostly they consist of minor repairs and improvements. By the way, the difference between a hamlet and a village in France is that a village has a church in it and a hamlet does not.


  1. I sure love the stone look-- wish they could leave it that way.
    It's great to see some of the homes around yours, Ken. Thanks :)

    1. I don't know why they can't leave the stone exposed. I'll have to ask them.

    2. In my opinion, the use of is to protect the walls behind from the elements, mostly moisture.

    3. chm, you are spot on....
      this type of wall around here...
      and in Norfolk [UK] and Caithness [Scot.]...
      is "rubble build".... and held together by mud...
      the same technique is used all over the place...
      but here...
      and the two above are the only places that I have had any experience of the build.
      Therefore it is necessary to seal the wall with a lime mortar that will breathe....
      they are "living" walls... in some cases, homes to other creatures!
      You can, to answer Judith, leave them exposed...
      but you must then point between with a lime mortar...
      however, the stone here is quite soft...
      so people who do this on outside walls are shortening the potential life of the house...
      because the stone is exposed to the elements.

    4. Our other neighbor's house is also stuccoed on the outside but in such a way that the building stones are still slightly visible. It looks good that way.

  2. Blogger is a pain in the [you name it!]. Requesting name and password everytime I want to comment. This time I had to do it twice, since it didn't work the first time and it kept out crépi for some reason. I'll probably stop commenting altogether if this keeps on going on.

    1. Unfortunately, there's not much I can do about Blogger and it's interoperability with Apple computers and tablets. Sometimes my comments get duplicated, the way yours do, but not consistently. I think I'm always logged in so I seldom have to log in again when I want to comment on my blog or somebody else's. Sorry for the frustration.

    2. Bonjour Cousin,

      I logged on Blogger using my gmail account which is left signed in whenever i want to read the blogs . I don't know you do log on to Blogger and sometimes it is p.i.t.a. if you are using the other avenues. I am on MAC also

    3. My impression is [or was] I'm always logged in, so I don't understand why Google would ask me again and again name and password when I want to post a comment. This happens only on my iPads, not on my Mac. I use the latter when I want to write a lengthy comment, it is easier than on a tablet. Electronics!!!

    4. It sounds like the iPad is not keeping you logged in. Wonder why? There must be a way to get the tablet to maintain the connection.

  3. Traditional French buildings have such good proportions and satisfying shapes. We always enjoy staying in B&Bs that are in old longeres. Still, I'd rather live in a house like yours with good natural light.

    chm, don't give up. I would miss your comments. I agree, the verification now is a pain. I've learned to highlight and copy my comments before going on to the verification stage. That way if it turns out I guessed wrong about the tiny dim photos of pizza or sushi, I can try again and drop my comments into a new box and look at pictures of cake.

  4. This post is interesting because I had no idea that lovely stonework lies beneath the stucco. I have seen the way the tiles work before. French houses are built to last. So far (knock on wood) blogger is kind to my mac laptop.

  5. I like the stonework so much, I would hate to cover it with the stucco :)

  6. Interesting about the roof -- reusing the tiles. Makes a lot os sense. I too like the look of the stone walls, but now understand why they are covered. Thanks


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