So, how exactly does one move a house packed to the brim with heavy and occasionally very fragile objects from the second floor apartment in the middle of busy Arles to a home in a tiny village in Provence?
Why with style, of course.
Well, at least that is the path that we chose as we were wise enough to hire Daniel Roux and his amazing team to take care of everything for us. And I do mean everything - including obtaining the city permits to block off a well-trodden street in the center of town (chosen to occur on a Monday when most of the surrounding shops are closed) to thoughtfully providing a pile of croissants for the start of the second day. Long before le jour J, he had come to our house to make a thorough estimation of what we have (as well as for the price), all the better to be utterly prepared. Remi then picked up the many, many boxes - provided free of charge - and we did our part of the work.
One of the things that makes Daniel's services incontournable in Provence is the use of an extendable porte-meubles which is raised, fire-man style, on the outside of the building. Once in place, all of the items to be moved, from bulky canapés (or Remi's gallery printer - yikes!) to our antique mirrors are put on a platform and down they go quick as an elevator...
...where they arrive at street level and are packed into the truck. Trust me, this is so much better than trying to pass through crumbling and winding Provençal staircases that can date from the Renaissance!
And in truth, three trucks were required for our family of...two...over sixty meters cubed in all. Holy cow do we have a lot of stuff - thousands of slides from Remi's archives, irreplaceable tchotchkes brought back from our travels and ah-hem perhaps a few random pairs of shoes belonging to yours truly. Why three trucks? One massive big wheeler simply won't fit in the streets in Yee Olde Provence, something that Daniel had verified in advance with Google maps.
While the last of the furniture and boxes were heading South, he packed up our artworks in boxes built for the purpose (that one of the major local museums uses their services frequently speaks volumes). They also had special containers on hand to transport glassware as well. "Did anything get broken?" his Father, 82, asked me afterwards. As he had founded the family company, he wanted to make sure that his well-crafted reputation was still intact. "Mais bien sur que non!" I replied.
After all, this is no monkey business.
Was it odd to see the house that we had so lovingly restored stripped down to the bare bones?
But Remi and I knew that we were moving on, literally, to better things. Overnight, our things slept in the trucks that were parked safe and sound at Roux Déménagement.
Day Two was the obvious aftermath of Day One - up, up and away, a film rolled in reverse. The boxes that we had labelled were deftly delivered to their corresponding rooms. As we had blocked out our floor plans in advance, the furniture was perfectly in place by day's end with nary a complaint, even when we realized that the washing machine wouldn't fit where it was supposed to and had to be moved - again - to a lower floor!
Because that is the thing - the entire crew is not only unbelievably hard-working (not exactly a common characteristic in Provence) but they are delightful. At the end of the day, Eric and Didier - both of whom have Popeye strength and have been working in the field for nearly fifteen years each - were joking, laughing and whistling nameless tunes despite the sodden heat.
There was definitely a bit of music in the air, especially as Daniel's son, Olivier, was the fourth man of the team for our move. Not only is he the third generation to partake in what is back-breaking and very precise work, he also happens to be a talented musician, whose fantastic band, Starliners, is in the process of recording their second album with Universal. Pardon? Yep, a budding rock star who also helps his Dad from time to time. Very feet on the ground and very much in the family aesthetic.
From the first Starliners album - that is Olivier on the far left:
Remi and I were invited to join everyone for the lunch break on the second day. We gathered around a table under the plane trees at our new local café and shared a bit of wine and a healthy dose of conversation. They rested, we relaxed. It was just the right moment needed before the final push and it was one in a stream of wise decisions that marked our two days. As the guys prepared to pull away in their emptied trucks, I felt incredibly grateful. Bisous were delivered all around. Will you believe me when I say that the move ended up being...fun? Perhaps not, but I know that not only was it a smashing success, we met a fine family with whom we will hopefully remain...friends.
Moving & Storage
250 route d'Eyguières
Tel.: 33 (0)4 90 96 04 55
This is the second time that we have used Daniel's services and obviously I can't recommend them highly enough to anyone moving within Provence. They also offer the possibility of a secure storage facility and yes, English is spoken.