Painfully slow. It’s practically impossible getting anything done with Enedis and Véolia and when I tell my French friends and neighbours they say, ‘Yes, it’s awful isn’t it’. But they just accept the situation and don’t do anything about it. It’s how things were in the UK back in the 1980s – worse probably – but it would appear that nobody on either side, government or public, can be bothered to do anything about it.
I did manage to make some progress, though, last week. First Véolia. I’ve been phoning and phoning them for 6 weeks for them to connect me to the system. The work involved would be simple and very straightforward as there is already a mains supply on my land (that a previous buyer of the land arranged before backing out) and all that Véolia need to do is install a temporary water meter and a vertical standpipe with a tap.
So you’d think that the obvious thing to do would be to get one of the several Véolia vans that go driving past every day to stop, for an engineer to take a look and for the job to be booked in. But no, all that the ‘client service’ operatives want to do is keep telling me that my ‘dossier’ is being actioned – but with never any indication of when. That would be out of their sphere of responsibility, they tell me.
But finally last week I got a result – not for an engineer to come and view the project (that will come later and to do it now would put the office-based staff out of a job) – but to go to Véolia’s office in Sarlat on Thursday for a meeting. It’s utterly pathetic – the more so as the person I was talking to was in Toulouse, evidently had no idea where Fleurac is and initially wanted me to go to Bergerac, over an hour’s drive away, compared to 25 minutes for Sarlat. However, I must be thankful for small mercies, I suppose.
I’m also on tenterhooks with Enedis. I was told that my ‘dossier’ is being dealt with (no, I couldn’t speak to the person dealing with my dossier – far too dangerous I guess) and that someone will be calling me this week to move things on. However, they still do not appear to have a clue what’s going on.
Although I know that my friends in Chateau Malbec paid a lot of money about three years ago to have a connection run across the road from the main ‘coffret’ on the corner of their land just up from mine, then along my side of the road down to my land and then back across the road again to connect the house that they built there, Enedis still keep suggesting that I will have to pay again to do the same when there is already a mains cable on the corner of my land following that work. If so, this will become a major bone of contention but yet again they seem totally unable to see that the most logical thing to do would be to send an engineer to take a look and do a simple assessment of the situation.
However, I have had more luck with the private sector. A friend originally told me about someone who could do the ‘terrassement’ work that I wanted (reshaping and levelling the land) and when I contacted them they said they could, but not the knocking down of the trees that I need done to widen my land to its maximum at the top end near the road. He told me that he did have a contact though who could do that work for me and gave me his details.
Since then I have heard nothing from the ‘terrassement’ guy after he said he would give me an estimate for what I wanted done. I also contacted the tree man who said that he’d come to take a look at 5.00 pm that afternoon but never showed up. I’m sick to death of tradesmen down here who think that they can treat clients in such a way, probably because they’ve got plenty of work – for now. That won’t last forever though and I won’t be joining any queue to give them work in the future when their order books start to get a bit thin. And they can take a running jump now as well, as I’ll tell them if they should get back to me at any time soon.
But luckily they’re not all like that. Victor gave me the contact details for another ‘terrassement’ man – Guy Canaud – who he said is more reliable. I contacted him one afternoon last week and he said that he couldn’t talk because he was busy at that moment but that he’d be able to later. When I called again he said that no, he couldn’t do the tree work but that he would give me the contact details for someone who could.
Following my previous experience, I had a bit of a ‘déjà vu’ moment, but to my surprise and satisfaction he called me back later on and said that he was with the person concerned and that he’d hand me over. Sure enough, I talked with what turned out to be a young man with a young family who was motivated to drive his business and turned up at the agreed time the next day (Saturday) to assess the job.
He told me that he’d do a ‘devis’ (estimate) for me and that if I went ahead, he could do the work in early August. When I said that wouldn’t he be taking the usual long summer break in August, he said that no, he wouldn’t as his wife has a snack bar in Les Eyzies and will therefore need to work right through the summer (he said that that’s why he had his toddler son with him at the time).
I hope that he does do the job. I find his attitude admirable and unlike the other two scoundrels, I think that he and his business thoroughly deserve to succeed.
It’s hot, over 30 degrees Celsius, as I type this but earlier this morning while it was still cool I ran over my land again with my ride-on mower and afterwards took some photographs. The first one shows my little encampment along the north-western edge beside the trees that I want to remove.
The next shot was taken from the corner next to the road where the underground mains electric cable is situated.
The third shot was taken from the opposite corner (south-west) next to the road looking down to the far end.
The next shot was taken looking in the same direction but from a quarter-way down and gives a good impression of how the land widens and falls away in the north-eastern corner.
The following shot was taken from about half-way down and shows the north-eastern corner in more detail with a view of the valley beyond. That’s the view that I’ll have from the kitchen of my house, bedroom windows 1 and 2 and the terrace that I propose to have outside the eastern side of my living room accessed through double-opening doors.
The next shot was taken from the eastern boundary looking back up towards the road (west) and shows how the slope increases immediately after the level at which the house will be built.
The following shot was taken facing towards the north-eastern corner and shows how the land starts to fall away towards the valley just before the boundary is reached.
The next shot was taken from that corner looking back up towards the top (western end) of the land.
Now a shot looking back towards the south-eastern corner where you can see that the land is quite flat. I’m thinking that I’ll move the caravan and my encampment down there while the work is being done to remove the trees as having no water and electricity there will be no different to now.
And finally the view from the north-eastern corner of the valley beyond. Unlike my house at Plazac, I don’t think that this view will ever be lost by having anything built between it and my house – not in my lifetime anyway – which pleases me greatly.
That’s it for now. With the new week beckoning just around the corner, I hope that I won’t be disappointed and that what I’ve been told will happen actually does. I’ll have to wait and see, the more so as with running my generator, my electricity for my fridge, lighting and charging my laptop and phone is costing me over 15€ a day. That’s around 500€ a month… 🙁