1 June 2024


Our French house is a modified single story house, a longère.   At first glance it looks bigger than it really is because although it's a long building it’s only one room deep and you have to go through one room to get to the next.  There is no hallway or corridor downstairs.  It was probably two dwellings with bits added on; an extension at one end, a bread oven at the other and last but not least a roof or house built over the well.

One of the reasons we bought it was that the space upstairs and downstairs made sense. It had been divided into sensible areas by successive previous occupants and its renovation evolved into a very workable house.  Many of the other houses we had looked at had rooms that were an awkward shape, ridiculously small kitchens and other rooms that seemed to have no purpose at all.

The common problem with a longère is that the upstairs is created in the roof space so has no walls except at each end. Extra walls can be created as the length of the building is divided into rooms but there is little opportunity to put in tall items of furniture such as a wardrobe.  We ended up with a lot of chests of drawers.

Our house does however have a wardrobe of sorts.  At one end of the long bedroom the chimney from the bread oven below comes up through the middle of the room dividing that end into two halves.  The previous owners had created a triangular shaped walk in wardrobe, dressing room, or closet, whatever you want to call it, by boxing in around the back of the chimney and adding a door.

A triangle is not an easy space to fit out in such a way as to make the best use of it.  When we bought the house it had a couple of droopy clothes rails and random shelves plus a door that opened inwards.  It’s been through several incarnations since then.  Fitting a new door that opens outwards made access much easier.  Better shelving where things didn’t fall through the gap also helped. But the major problem was how to use the long, low triangular space behind the long rail on the left side of the room.  For the first few years we stacked plastic boxes of clothes and other belongings in there but it’s not an idea solution.

Two years ago we had new velux windows in the room, and a new carpet plus decoration.  The project required the whole room including the wardrobe to be emptied and was very disruptive.  It was completed just as we reached the end of our 180 days that year so in order to get the room functional we simply put a few freestanding rails and all the plastic boxes back in, just to get stuff off the floors and out of the way.

Then, last year, everything had to come out yet again for the installation of the air conditioning.  The fitter decided that the best place to run the pipework to the outside wall was through the wardrobe.  Hence the diagonal line across the back wall.  That would have been another opportunity to refit the room but we were already up to our neck in other building work, and expecting visitors, so far the umpteenth time the temporary rails and boxes got put back in.  With each successive shuffle in and out the space became more crowded and disorganised.

It’s been driving us, especially me, mad ever since!  Especially now that we live here full time and need more of our stuff to be accessible and in circulation.

With the hope that the weather must improve sometime soon I wrestled the boxes of summer clothes out from behind the one long droopy rail and we did some head scratching as to how to make better use of the space.  It helped that we sorted out a lot of clothes that we will never wear again and put them in the Red Cross charity boxes.

The final solution was to create two rails properly supported along the long wall, one behind and lower than the other.  The back rail now holds out of season clothes which are much easier to access than having to drag out huge boxes just to find one jumper. (And inevitably it was nearly always the wrong box.)  A second short rail and a load of sturdy shelves on the opposite side complete the job.

Nick has painted the walls and the door and we’re thrilled with the whole job.  It’s only taken us ten years to get around to it……but then there have been other projects higher up the priority list.  The completion of this project is bringing us much more satisfaction than many of those!  We repurposed some of the original shelves, already had the paint, added a new Ikea box unit and shelf unit and new rails.  With a few extra fittings and other bits and pieces the total cost was 350€.

On a rare fine day when it was warm enough to sit out we had lunch at Chez Grandma in the village.  The proprietors Henri and Julie have had more than their fair share of trials and tribulations this year and the restaurant has been closed for some time.  The good news is that the restaurant is open again for business with help from a most charming young man called Thomas.

Grandma's is where we celebrated getting the key to our first house in 2007 and has been part of our village life ever since.  Other establishments have changed hands numerous times and been closed for long periods but Henri has always been there to open for dinner on a cold, miserable winter night after a day’s hard work on the house.  The courtyard has been a delight to dine in for locals and holidaymakers over the years.

We wish him, Julie and Thomas all the best and a successful summer season.

If only the sun would stay shining for a little longer!


  1. There is great satisfaction in finally getting the wardrobe storage sorted. We bought this bungalow in 2009, but it was only in the spring that we finally got the bedroom into a properly workable arrangement. It's made such a difference. ...how lovely that one of your favourite eateries is still running

    1. Being organised definitely improves quality of life and mental health. I hate being in a perpetual mess!

  2. Looks like you have done a very successful job up there. well done. We recently bought the very large barn attached to our house. Just getting all the junk out of it took 3 days with a man and his lorry. We are now trying to get it so we can use it for something sensible. It also has a garden, and as SPANC have now condemned our second fosse (!!!) we will put the new one in that garden, hopefully with no more problems! Take care, Diane

    1. There's always something to do, isn't there?!!

  3. After all that activity, you certainly deserved a table in a favourite hostelry. Hopefully, the dreadful weather is now behind us and you’ll get to enjoy a languid summer.