Cleaning up la Maison du Gardien

Mess in front of the maison du gardien

Cleaning up la Maison du Gardien

21 september 2023

Cleaning up la Maison du Gardien

21 september 2023
Mess in front of the maison du gardien
Last week, my stepfather and I tackled the mess in la Maison du Gardien. Well, we tackled a bit of the mess. You see, the mess in question is rather a mess, so the tackling is no easy feat.

I don’t know how this is in other countries, but France does love its decheterries, the garbage dump if you will. You drive up there with a trailer full of stuff, which you then need to neatly sort into about 20 different stations. Cardboard, old electronic devices, greenery, chemical stuff.

The messieurs at the dechetterie oversee this sorting, poking through your stuff, tearing open garbage bags, and helping you shuffle things into the bins if you’re going too slowly for their liking. 

In Holland, when you would tear down the entire interior of a house, it would be best to rent a container. They bring it, you fill it up with everything your hands touch, and they take it away.

In France, this neat trick is very expensive. Possibly because they need to sort everything afterward? I don’t know. The fact is, we decided we’d rather take a few trips to the kind gentlemen and their bins than spend thousands of euros on a container-for-the-lazy. (Kidding, I wish I could be lazy too)

So, when my stepdad and I set out to the house, I started collecting empty rubble sacks to put the mess in. After about five sacks he figured ‘This will do’ and set out into the house. I proceeded to collect about thirty sacks more, which prompted him to exclaim: ‘You rather have a lot of those, don’t you?!’

Once up on the first floor, he filled his five sacks and realized he hadn’t even dented the enormous amount of rubble we were facing. Along the way, he started to appreciate the amount of sacks we have.

Up on the first floor, you’ll find a massive mountain of stones, plaster, bricks, pieces of drywall, bits of wood, and of course mummified rats.

Mess in Maison du Gardien

They renovated the house multiple times over the last 70-odd years, always adding to and never taking off. New wall? Just put one in front of the old one. Do you want spots for lighting? Yes, just put in a new ceiling over the old one so you can build them in.

Since we’re now baring the place back to its original stone walls and wooden beams, that’s a lot of mess.

The mess a bit cleaned up

In about two hours we filled all the sacks, and the amount of mess was no longer just dented, but visibly less. At this point, Jan swooped in to help us carry all the sacks down. Mind you, these are sacks filled with stones. I’d say 20 kilos each, 35 of them, up on the first floor. You get the picture, there was sweat involved.

After Jan put all the sacks into the trailer, I threw down a lot of glass wool insulation for good measure. I mean, we couldn’t add more weight to it, but please just take as much of the mess as you can in one go, right?!

Off they went, to the dechetterie, trailer full of mess.

Jan was hoping for a helpful monsieur of the garbage who would help him shake out the sacks into the bin. Instead, he got two of them, one helping the other on his first day. And rules are rules, so all sacks need to be checked to see if they’re properly sorted and going into the right bin.

While Jan whispered a heartfelt ‘Mon dieu…’, the gentleman started looking through the sacks.
My stepdad stood on the sidelines, muttering about efficiency and the rain.

Three sacks in, the seasoned garbage man asked the newbie: ‘And, what do you think? Does it seem to be properly sorted?’
The new one mumbled his acceptance and wanted to continue with his task. 
Luckily for everyone involved the older man winked and said: “Rules are rules, but this boss here always separates his dechets very well, so I think we can just help him empty his trailer without further checking.’

So, the rubble sacks are empty again, waiting for me to continue another day. Dent by dent, the mountain of mess gets smaller.
Fun fact: when it’s all cleared out we have room to take the old plaster off the walls. Creating a new mountain of mess all over again. Thank goodness we have friends at the dechetterie!

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