We did it! We got the green light to renovate our 17th century apartment in the center of Carcassonne!

Boiserie above a chimney...the previous owner generously included the mirrors because they match the decorations and it would be a shame to separate them
Boiserie above a chimney…the previous owner generously included the mirrors because they match the decorations and it would be a shame to separate them

Officials from the Bâtiments de France toured, asking questions. Many of the old buildings in the center have been “renovated,” but without regard to historic preservation, even though almost all have historical classification. People rip out the original tomettes, or red tiles. They install dropped ceilings to make it easier to pass electric cables. They stick wires and pipes anywhere they want, including on the façades, which is strictly forbidden. They even get rid of historic details like chimneys and decorations.

Tomettes...gorgeous when buffed to a shine
Tomettes…gorgeous when buffed to a shine

As a result, renovation permits require a visit from the Bâtiments de France (the folks who break the historic preservation rules also don’t bother to get permits or to pay contractors officially). It’s really sad.

So our visitors seemed a little on guard at first, wary of what we might do. Their smiles got bigger and bigger as we explained that we would completely rewire the place, restore all the tomettes, replace the rotted windows with exact replicas, install completely new bathrooms and kitchens and not touch any of the antique decoration.

Marble mantel in the big kitchen
Marble mantel in the big kitchen
The cast-iron plate in the big kitchen's big fireplace
The cast-iron plate in the big kitchen’s big fireplace

The renovation is going to cost more than the apartment itself, and we’re doing it all by the book. But in the end, we’ll have a treasure to share with travelers to Carcassonne who want more authenticity than one can find in most hotels or lodgings.

Plenty of work to be done
Plenty of work to be done

We’ll post updates about our travails with our travaux. No sooner did we get the OK to start work than the electricians started ripping out the old wiring.

We’ll also tell share stories about the building, which has had many lives over the past four centuries.

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