Villages across the Luberon are littered with yellow boards - an obligatory declaration to be made by anyone carrying out building work. And today Husband installed our own yellow board. So we’re ready: architect’s plans, approval from the Mairie, standard-issue rugged builder, and yellow board.
Half of our house is restoration project; the half that has rested since the end of the 1800s. It’s a dusty spider’s lair, home to birds and hornets too. On the ground floor the fireplace is lined with newspaper carrying news of the First World War.
Two adjoining rooms have stone troughs built into the wall and a deep shelf holds a harness that would have been worn by a horse working the vineyards. The stuffing is coming out of the collar and the leather is tough and cracked – a restoration job in itself.
Inexplicably, there are no stairs to the second floor, so access is currently up a ladder and through a window. Here there are signs of silk production; big business in Provence in the 19th century. Wooden poles were posted from wall to wall and on these silkworm larvae would spin their silken cocoons having gorged themselves silly on mulberry leaves. Unhappily, the cocoons were then dipped in hot water, killing the pupae for their silk, before they got a chance to fly.
Underneath this there is a house: