The house caught my eye as I scanned the internet listings for French property. Although small I thought it was cute and had potential. And equally important – it was in my price range. It was advertised as having sound walls and a good roof but the interior required “everything to do” – truth in advertising!
It hadn’t been lived in for many years but had been rented out as a garage for several years before I bought it (explaining the garage doors in front).
The house is squeezed between two larger houses on either side and backs against a hill. It was built on three levels:
The ground floor has open beams, a monumental fireplace and crafted turned staircase (in slight need of repair).
It also has what my daughter dubbed as an “indoor water feature” which is actually a drainage trough that runs diagonally through the center of the floor. The floor is cobble-stone for about the front two-thirds and the back third is packed earth over bedrock. (I just learned about the bedrock this trip.) There are large stones that lay across the “water feature” to cover it.
The purpose of the trough is for storm water: a rain gutter from my neighbor’s roof runs into the rain gutter on my roof which run into the drainage pipe in the back corner of my house which runs into the trough and out to the storm drain in front of the house. A simple and effective solution for runoff. Well maybe not quite so simple when one is trying to design a more modern floor layout.
The up side is that I can utilize the existing trough to lay the pipes for water and waste pipes when I get the plumbing installed and I won’t have to dig up stone floors. I have designed my floor plans to place all plumbing in or near the back corner to take advantage of this. (A pipe has already been laid in the trough for storm water drainage. And connections to sewer and water are readily available at the street in front of the house.)
The first floor has windows facing the street and had bits of floor missing and a second set of stairs leading to the attic. (Currently the entire floor & stairs are missing due to earlier work which will be described in another post.)
Although the walls are sturdy the old plaster needs to be removed, the stone repointed and possibly re-plastered.
The attic has a front door under a gable opening to a small “Juliette” balcony and a back door exiting to a set of stone stairs leading up to the garden behind the house.
I plan to keep as many original features as possible and to maintain a rustic look and feel. I will of course add some modern conveniences such as indoor plumbing and electricity. If possible I will choose retro-style fixtures; although they are much more costly than standard models so that wish remains to be seen. And I will scour the local marche aux puces for furnishings.
In addition to the house I have to say that the well-known real estate adage holds true: It is Location, Location, Location.
Because of its beauty Uzerche is known as the pearl of the Limousin (the region it is in). There is also a saying: “who has a house in Uzerche has a castle in the Limousin”.
That may be a bit of a stretch for my little house. But there is a possibility that I own a piece of a castle. – I haven’t researched it yet but I know the white stone used in the front wall of my house is quite unusual for this region and it has been suggested that it may have originated from an ancient castle. It was common to pilfer stones from derelict castles for the use in building homes. I’ll certainly be interested to see what I can find out.