A House in Provence Chapter 11


A sign on the side of a building in St Remy. You can tell we are in wine country.


These types of ruins are very common in France. This was at the top of a little village near St Remy.

Chapter 11

We’ve Got Bigger Problems

Well, the beast under the house died. The plumbing problem has turned out to be a disaster. The plumber came out twice with a roto-rooter and the problem remained. Next he pulled out the bathtub which involve removing tile around it, breaking most of it. Then he pulled out the shower and discovered a huge hole in the pipe under the floor. Apparantly this was the source of our problem. He thought that perhaps someone doing the maisonry dropped something heavy and broke it. Whether they knew it at the time or not doesn’t really matter. The plumber fixed the pipe and, since it was a Saturday, quickly took off without test anything.
Maurice turned the water on in the sinks and went out to watch the flow from some port outside that let him look and he watched huge amounts of debris flowed by. (On the street, by our house, a lid can be pulled up and the flow of water in seen in a little open channel as it goes down hill to the water purification area.) Finally, the pipe couldn’t handle it and it clogged up somewhere up the line and the flow went down to a trickle. We were told the toilet upstairs was connected to another pipe and that it was going to work.
Well, things went from bad to worse. The toilet upstairs slowly started slowing down and finally, when I took a bath upstairs and let the water out of the tub, something seemed to break under the house and water poured under the floor. We think another pipe broke, maybe due to the backup in the former pipe. We think we now have two problems, the first broken pipe and a new broken pipe.
To say we were depressed is an understatement. Here we had a beautiful house and, really, we could’t live in it. There is a fabulous view and the skies are blue with incredible light pouring on the trees. There is a gite in the village up above us and we thought there was a possibility that we would be reduced to going up there to use their shower and toilet. We decided we had had enough and made reservations on the TGV to go back to Paris on Christmas Day. We did’t plan to come back until the problem was solved. I felt like Scrooge and had visions of boiling Stephane in olive oil and burying him with a sprig of lavender in his heart. Merry Friggin Christmas. Bah, Humbug.
Plumbing problems continued to abound into February. A plumber came out and finally got the pipes unplugged. The shower was reinstalled along with the bathtub and it’s tile covering. Everytime I emptied the bathtub or flushed the toilet I said a prayer. And, to add to my sense of doom, there was an unexplained odor in the bathroom smelling like wet cement. Maurice went under the house to see if it was wet but found only dry dirt. Fianlly, the toilet started doing its ineffective swirling thing again and I was unable to use the upstairs bathtub in the bathroom without the odor. There was some sort of new blockage involving the upstairs bathroom and the downstairs toilet.
We called our trusty building supervisor again telling him our problem only to be told that at least we had a working toilet and could take a shower. He had bigger problems to deal with elsewhere. We called our insurance company and reported the problem and started getting our own people out to start finding the problem.
In thinking about all that has happened we have decided that the plumbing problem started when they dug the foundation and discovered more rocks than they expected. We feel that they didn’t dig the foundation hole deep enough and as a result the pipes weren’t installed properly.