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Mirepoix 4 June 2016
Quiet Day at Home
The weather frogs declared today to be a rain day, and so we planned to stay at home and be quiet. We went out to lunch. I took a nap. We went for a walk. Mirepoix has a greenway along its part of the River L'Hers past its gorgeous seven-arched bridge. They sure knew how to build 'em, back in 1766 (although it took until 1791 to finish!) It's wide enough for the main highway into town. There's even a broad green space with picnic tables. These folks seem to know how to live.
We stopped at a Salon du Thé for a cup of chocolate for me and mint tea for Rochelle.
Maybe it will rain tonight.
It always interests me to see how peoples use what's available to build with. Short timbers: you got 'em. Clay and misshapen brick? Got that too. Well then: half-timbered for you! Usually then it gets plastered over, at least the infilled part, but why not give it the crazy-quilt zebra effect, like here? This technique allows for much thinner walls than the more common dressed stone walls, like the ones in the house we're staying in, where the walls are 16 inches thick.
The big floor joists at each level, especially the bottom, are most likely the biggest and most expensive wood in the house, and stretch clear back to the first inside structural wall. It's the same strategy, only on a larger scale, as the vigas and latillas of southwestern US construction. Below these timbers are garages and storage rooms, but the original design was meant for the animals and farm equipment or, in the center of the town, a shop or workshop. These particular timbers are clearly "original equipment," probably of about the same vintage (18th Century) as the bridge: pretty good longevity for untreated wood. You can see severe weathering, but only on the outer inch or so. These timbers have another couple of centuries in them.
Mirepoix is a hotbed of real estate sales to foreigners. Our host John (a South African ex-pat himself) said that they had two of their units rented all winter while Brits in the process of relocation sought and renovated their new digs here.
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