There hasn’t been much renovation going on in my little corner of the Poitou-Charentes lately, as regular readers - presumptuous of me, I know, to assume that there are any - might have noticed. This is partly because I have been busy with other projects but also because I have been waiting for the green light from the mairie. I live in a protected architectural zone, which means I am not allowed to make any changes to the exterior – not even paint the shutters - without official permission.
Given that French bureacracy generally gets a bad rap, I was braced for a prolonged struggle. But I am happy to report that my application to smarten up the exterior was surprisingly painless. There was just one very simple form to fill in, one photo of the current facade (ugly grey pebbledash) to attach. Et voila. Today I was given the go-ahead, less than two months after dropping my form off at the mairie. I must stick to a prescribed formula: lime plastering with the old stones still visible; while the facade must be painted ‘ton de pierre’ (the colour of old stone) and the shutters pale grey. This is what I was planning to do anyway, so it's reassuring to know that this is the traditional style for the area.