Up On The Roof

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So, now we know how to tile a roof too.

Welcome to château make-over land, where roof restoration is always a priority. Not long after our arrival on Lescure we took care of the garage roof. It was on the verge of collapsing, so we had somebody come in to reinforce the original beams and replace the tiles.

Last winter, when we started seeing leaks in as many as ten spots, we knew we had to act again. Rather than asking the contractor to redo some of his original work we decided to relay the rooftiles ourselves. Of course, we’ve had to intervene on presumably finished jobs before and I always struggle to get over myself. Caught up in self-created negativity (about things not being done right first time) it can take months for me to get going. Thank goodness for the company of friends, like ever-smiling Anouschka.

It threatens rain when we get started, but every day the late summer sun puts in an appearance. Warmth in the air, some blue skies, a tinge of autumn. All in all, it takes us five days to get the job done and we have to take time off in between to give our hands and backs a break. The work is even harder than we imagined. But picnic lunches, homemade tarte tatin, and early aperitifs on the building site keep us going. And belly laughs!

We put up scaffolding, take off the old tiles, sort them according to type (we only want to use reclaimed antique tiles if possible) and we saw fiber cement plates to size. Next, we place back the most weathered terracotta tiles – one tile on top, one tile on the bottom, making sure we compose a beautiful colour pallet. Light red mainly, but with variations from ochre to deeper red with different shades to salmon and sometimes grey, the muted hues of moss and lichen. We use thick layers of cement for flashing and get creative with some paint for the finishing touch at the outer edge of the roof.


And it’s so rewarding! To know that we can do this too. To be reminded how very important it is to work with your hands. Connecting with materials, the feeling for beauty and artistry. Also, throughout this job, I have felt again that there is a spirit behind everything we do here. The work connects us to different parts of the grounds, to ourselves, to each other and friends, and to the flow of life. That’s why some jobs here will always need to be done by ourselves. Because it’s through our own touch that we bring this estate to life.  I guess working hands really do equal awakening minds.



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