Demenageurs, Cartons and a Rainy Removal Day

I’ve got a few minutes free this morning while I let my flue-ridden children sleep on a bit before I can get down to the second phase of sanding my new bedroom floor. I have a head-ache and am aching all over, but i’m not sure whether to atribute that to a day of lugging a heavy drum-sander around, or whether “la grippe” has also got me in its clutches.

I haven’t written for weeks because I seem to have an endless stream of things to do, and my 18 year old has already asked me if I will decorate her room before she leaves home. Since her Baccalaureat is in 4 months, that has certainly put the pressure on.

The removal day from the appartment was, as it should be in Normandy, drizzly and wet. Two days before the move, “husband à l’etranger” was blocked from coming home and the reinforcements arrived in the form of my in-laws. I think they were somewhat relieved to find that the boxes were all but done, and I think they had been more than a bit anxious that they might find themselves carting all my belongings down four flights of stairs to a waiting van. In fact I had booked demenageurs (removal men) and they turned out to be a real gem.

One of the most difficult thing about moving in the city centre is of course where to park a removal van since the streets are never free of parked cars, even for a nano-second. I kept an eagle eye on the street the majority of the afternoon before the move, and each time a car moved I made my way down and blocked the space with my car and then a series of rubbish bins, tying the lot together with a long piece of string and  attached notices to warn off any hopeful driver of pinching a space. It was late in the afternoon when the resident of the second floor appartment peered out of his window and asked me what was going on, only to find that we had both hired large removal vans and were moving on the same day. For what-ever reason the Mairie had not correctly checked their itinerary, and given the go-ahead for a tandem move. Unluckily for the second floor, I had the space for the van and the “monte-meuble” and they were forced to take to the stairs!WP_20141211_001

Never under-estimate a frenchman who takes his work seriously. Due at 8am, the men arrived at 7 whilst I was still in my pyjamas, hastily trying to shoo my kids off to school. Before I had blinked, the “monte-meuble” was installed and my belongings were departing with such a speed that I was lucky to actually find some clothes to put on at all.

WP_20141211_004the monte-meuble in situ
WP_20141211_007my table descends
WP_20141211_014a simple flat platform with no sides, nor straps to hold objects in place
WP_20141211_015on its way down
WP_20141211_016is that a bus below!

Since our local café sells take-out coffee, I was a frequent visitor to keep the men’s morale up, while the raindrops trickled down their necks, and by 3 that afternoon, without so much as a pause for lunch the flat was empty of all but our mattresses and our diningroom table and chairs. We had decided that trying to move into the house and sleep the first night was too much, and frankly, with the fatigue setting in from a gruelling day, and the dirt and grime of a house uncleaned for 40 years, I wasn’t sure I wanted to move in at all! It doesn’t take any persuading to tell a group of french-men that the family need somewhere to eat dinner, and by 8 pm were were all comfortably sitting around the table with a good bottle of red wine!

The “demenageurs” decided that to move the van back to the depot would be a great mistake bearing in mind the other family chomping at the bit to park up their own removal van, and so all my worldly goods remained parked up in the street just outside my appartment for the night.

The next morning the last items were gone before 8am and were unloaded into the new house. The movers did look at me somewhat astonished when I asked them to protect the sittingroom carpet from their damp feet, but clearly they did not appreciate the back-breaking job that my excellent friend and I had done with a carpet cleaner only a couple of days before. And if they’d seen the colour of the water that came out of it they might have been marginally more sympathetic. As it was, when the last item was removed from the van, they had only one thing left to say,

“Bon courage”


ROUEN – moving high rise -the “monte meuble”

I talked about moving house before – but last time, when it was my move, I lost the camera under piles of paper and boxes. Today the occupant of the 2nd floor is moving out, so at the crack of dawn I was woken to men’s voices in the courtyard below and the setting up of the ‘monte meuble’.

It is an ingenious device, but forgive my ignorance, because I have never come across one of these outside France. perhaps they exist elsewhere – let me know! I can’t believe the British or Americans would agree to these being used, especially in the times of ‘Risk Assessments’, ‘Health and Safety’ – all that litigation when something falls off and injures someone. The mind boggles. And that is exactly the point. Things do fall off…..

Unlike my move where the demenageurs had the good sense to strap the ‘ladder’ of the monte meuble to the window. This one is floating free at the top, barely resting against the window frame.

Like my demenageurs, these guys also don’t strap any of the furniture onto the platform. When my friend Carole moved  from her apartment, one of her wardrobes fell from the platform at a significant height above the ground and smashed into ‘firewood’ on the pavement below. “Explosé”  as she put it!

Well that lot isn’t tied on!

But I am relieved they took the cylindrical packaged chair (lying sideways) off, before they sent it down!

I can’t watch any more – too stressful.

Did I mention the thoroughfare to a busy kids nursery is half a metre to the side of the ‘monte meuble’ – hmmm!