My new windows are in and I’m as pleased as punch. They do a much better job of keeping the heat in, and the noise, dust and wind out. Thanks to the amount of research I did beforehand over the choice of windows and contractor, the process was relatively painless. What’s more, it’s also partly tax-deductible as we’re doing our bit for global warming!

I say relatively because I organised to have the windows installed in what turned out to be the coldest week of the year. Luckily it was dry and largely sunny.

Work of this type is a dirty and dusty process although the workmen were incredibly neat and tidy and did a good job cleaning up after themselves each day. Nonetheless, there was dust everywhere!

The contractors advised the installation would take 3-4 days. We realised after day one it was going to take all week. I however had a fixed price contract so the extra time taken ensured an impressive finish, after I’d established on the first day that I had an eye for detail and would be satisfied with nothing less than the best.

Workmen in Britain typically pitch up and expect tea (or coffee) and biscuits before getting down to any work, and then at regular intervals throughout the day. Not so in France. They’re here promptly at 08:00 am and work through until light falls, saving less noisy work for 12:00 – 14:00 lunchtime period. As it was bitterly cold, I treated them to a post-lunch coffee and slice of fruit cake. I found this helped them focus on that all-important finish.

We spent the whole week swathed in cashmere, something we now typically only wear on winter holidays. But it was the only way to stay warm while daytime temperatures were below 10°C and the windows were wide open. In addition, we had lunch out every day to save me fom cooking or having to prepare food in dusty conditions.

Aside from the dust everywhere, the floors got really dirty, far too dirty for Bob (my automatic floor sweeper). After the workmen departed it was all hands on deck, including my beloved, for a big clean-up. As anticipated, my view now looks even better!


Windows on the world

When we first moved into the apartment, I briefly considered renovating the windows and putting in double glazing. My beloved said there was nothing wrong with the existing windows, so I didn’t change them. However, it’s something I’ve since regretted and had planned to replace them either this year or next. Recently, our building’s management committee proposed everyone have windows that meet a specific standard so that we can reduce the building’s carbon footprint, and its heating costs. The vote was passed by a massive majority.

This has occasioned lots of noise over the past year as most owners have had to replace their windows to meet the standard. I’ve been dragging my heels a bit as I’ve tried in vain to find a self-cleaning glass. Keeping 10 large, floor to ceiling windows clean is one of the banes of my existence. It’s supposedly one of my beloved’s chores but I’m lucky if I get him to do it more than twice a year. From time to time, I find someone prepared to clean the windows but they soon lose interest in such a tough job.

I have bought my beloved various tools with which to clean the windows. He’s got a steamer and one of those Karcher window cleaners but he makes such a mess cleaning them inside and out, it’s often quicker and easier to do it myself! Somehow I think that’s the point he’s trying to make.

As many of my neighbours have now replaced their windows with all-singing-all-dancing double glazed windows, I’ve been able to check out the results. My philosophy tends to be that if I’m replacing something, it has to be superior to the existing product. Sadly, I couldn’t find anything with self-cleaning glass, but I did want improved function and greater security.

The frames have to be aluminium with champagne (gold colour) exteriors but I can have any colour I fancy on the interior. Most of my neighbours have gone for white but that’s too bling, bling for my period interiors and off-white window frames. So I’m replacing like with like, champagne inside and out. It’s champagne coloured aluminium all the way through rather than being painted that colour.

We’ve gone with a firm nearby in Antibes who are the local partner for a German window manufacturer. We had their windows in both of our flats in Germany, and I loved them. Many of the neighbours opted for windows from Italian companies which generally prove to be a less expensive option but this firm is closer, has a superior product and excellent pre and post sales service. It’s a long-established family firm whose employees have been with it forever. Quite my favourite type of firm!

So I’ve signed the contract, paid a deposit and my windows are now being made with fitting planned for the week beginning 21 January – can’t wait. Meanwhile, I have no chance of getting my beloved to clean them.