As we settle into our new house in Porchefontaine we have one project that is still in progress: putting in a wood stove (un poêle).
Why do we want one? Well, we had a tiny fireplace in the old apartment which was utterly useless for heating but was so nice to have on those cloudy, rainy, damp days that are the usual winter weather here in Versailles.
Since that time other houses have sprung up on either side of ours which means that the original chimney is too short. We asked for (and received) authorization from the mayor's office here to have it extended. Our contractor even found us a mason to do the work.
While all this discovery was going on we started looking for a stove. We drove out to many a showroom in the 78 and consulted with several experts in town. Quite a selection to choose from these days - what I saw bore no resemblance to the wood stoves of my childhood in the U.S.
But I wasn't very happy with what I found. The modern ones sure look spiffy but it seems a travesty to put something like that in an 80-year old house and frankly the room is so small that most of them are just too big and give off too much heat.
Then one day around Christmas we were driving through Saint Cyr and we saw a billboard for a shop that specializes in wood stoves. We stopped and on the second floor I found exactly what I was looking for.
back in the 1800's and was made and distributed by a company owned by Jean Baptiste André Godin. This fellow has a fascinating biography. He was an industrialist/philanthropist and he invented and patented this little cast iron stove, perfect for small spaces, which could be had for a reasonable price.
Believe it or not, they still make them in France. The showroom in Saint Cyr had several models but I fell in love with the original. Small (5 kW) and round and fits perfectly in our living room. Good price, too. And it appears that this little stove will heat our entire first floor so we can burn a lot less oil.
For those of you who never had the pleasure as a child of being responsible for chopping wood and feeding the family fire as I was, here is a short video that shows how it works.