Monsieur Douady the mason came round yesterday morning to discuss the wood fire we were thinking of buying and how we want it fitted. He will rebuild our chimney, fit the flue, and install a salvaged fireplace surround. As is customary in France, he will not connect up the stove itself though. That is a job for the plumber.
We have opted to buy our own poêle (wood burning slow combustion stove) and we went off to do that yesterday after checking with Monsieur Douady that the one we favoured was suitable and would fit in the fireplace. I have spent a long time - days and weeks of research - trying to decide which stove was right for us. There are many temptingly cheap poêles easily available, but after discussion with others who have installed slow combustion wood stoves, we realised that there was a reason they were so cheap. They just aren't as good quality, made of steel plate rather than cast iron, often single skinned with poor door seals and annoyingly small fireboxes .
The Invicta Carolo model we have bought is made in France of cast iron, takes 50cm logs and will burn 2 logs for 10 hours unattended overnight. It comes with a 5 year guarantee and we can choose to have the flue exit from the top or the back. We are going to have the flue come from the top so the stove sits almost flush with the front of the fireplace surround, and we are going to have a 30cm gap between the top of the stove and the mantelpiece, so we can put a saucepan or kettle on the stove if we want to. Best of all it was on offer at half price and only €399.
We purchased the stove at Bricomarché. To our amazement, the store actually had one in stock (it's pretty standard for French stores to advertise a good special, but have so few of the item in stock that if you are not there beating down the door on the first day of the offer you will miss out). Susan filled out the paperwork for the guarantee and paid, then we drove round the back of the store for the stove to be loaded into the car. The stove was on a pallet and they used a forklift to get it into the car as it weighs 118kg.
Once we had three people lifting a considerably lightened stove the job was an easy one. Easy, of course, being a relative term!
Now we await M.Douady's arrival to measure the flue so he can make sure he buys the right diameter tubage and then his return to do the chimney.
Next move for me is buying wood - and a chainsaw. Vroom vroom!!