Ever travelled 650km with a staircase on your lap? Well, I can’t really recommend it to be honest, but then sometimes you just have to do what you just have to do.

We have a small apartment in Nice. A recent aquisition and another project. Just a makeover in comparison with some we’ve had, but not without it’s little difficulties, one of which is that it isn’t exactly “just around the corner”.

Well it had this rather nasty spiral staircase going down into the basement. But it spiralled down ending up facing the wrong way, which hugely compromised one already tiny bedroom. It also creaked like mad, so any tiptoeing off to the loo in the night woke the entire neighbourhood. It had to go.

(And apologies for the seriously bad quality of the photos.)

Massively luckily my husband is pretty ok in the maths department (don’t even give me a tape-measure!). He measured and photographed and calculated and made notes. Then he came home and built a square oak staircase (out of real trees from the garden!) and hence we are travelling with it in the car to go fit it in the round hole in our apartment.
So eventually we arrive and I unfold myself out of the tiny compartment in the car that I had been assigned, and we carry it in pieces up the street and in through the window. Yay for a ground-floor flat!
The following morning, excited to start and with his motto of “Gotta get on”, my husband starts the process of removing the spiral jobbie. It is not keen to be evicted and various power tools need to be employed.
After a bit of a false start due to a knock on the door and a “not before 8am please” (whoops …used to living in the country and hadn’t realised the time), we eventually have the thing in bits and an empty hole.
We knock through the wall and the new staircase starts to go in. Amazingly (or I should really say “Of course…) it fits perfectly, after a bit of persuasion and tinkering and we are really pleased with it.
However, our bedroom now resembles a warzone and is full of firewood, I mean dismembered Mr Spiral, and general rubble. Not so great. We bag it up, hoick it up the new stairs, out of the window and down the street to the car. Our son and I are then dispatched to find the déchetterie (recycling centre).
Now I know this is pathetic, but I’m not really a very happy bunny driving through busy city streets when I don’t know where I am going, so I am a bit stressed before we even leave. I have a fine navigator though and soon we find the place and wait patiently in the queue of white vans and dodgy trailers. Eventually we reach the entrance and the bloke on sentry duty at the gate.

“What have you got?”(in French obviously!). Wood and rubble mostly.

“I need to see a utility bill showing your Nice address”. Right…ok, I have this on my tablet, no problem.

“And your car registration documents”. Can’t think what that has to do with what I have in the back, but tick that…here you go.

“And your pièce d’identité”. Yes, yes… here is my driving licence.


NO?? What do you mean “No!”…

“Madame, your name doesn’t match the utility bill!”

For goodness sake…I had forgotten that it is of course in my maiden name. Why the French insist on using a name that is not mine, has not been for 26 years and will never be again, I fail to understand. Anyway it is clearly not cutting the mustard! Jeez, I only want to dump some rubbish!

“Don’t you have any other ID?” Well, obviously, yes I do…I have a passport. But I don’t actually have it on me as I wasn’t planning to leave the country…I only wanted to go to the tip!!!

Anxiety levels are now going through the roof. Thoughts of taking the entire contents of the car home again are flashing through my mind, not to mention the various vehicles bearing down on us from behind. He appears to be adamant.

Flustered and frustrated I go for last resort tactics. I try to flutter my rather dusty eyelashes and look like I might cry. He stomps off to ask The Boss. Eventually he returns with my papers, and then, addressing the part of my T-shirt where I have paint smeared across my right boob, rather than me, he announces, “Bay Number 5!”

Success! We are in!!

In comparison, the unloading, sorting and trip back is relatively uneventful, despite getting a bit lost and heading in the wrong direction for far too long. We even risk a second trip in the afternoon!
It is very much apero o’clock by the time we are all done, so a wander down into Nice old town finds us a great little bar. A beer tasting board for the boys and a pina colada for me soon does the trick. I can’t help thinking though, if we had had a lovely staircase like this one in the bar, it would have saved us a lot of work!
So the lovely new oak stairs are in and the first part of our Nice project is complete. Looks like I shall be travelling with plasterboard for company next time!


To see it in all it’s glory CLICK HERE

And…if you fancy a break in glorious Nice, you can rent it too x




*This post includes some affiliate links, which means that should you decide to purchase anything, I might receive a small commission at absolutely no extra cost to you. More details on my disclosure page.

The putting-together of this staircase was made infinitely easier with the use of a [easyazon_link identifier=”B006TF3RG4″ locale=”UK” nw=”y” nf=”y” tag=”aperogirl-21″ cart=”y” localize=”y” popups=”n”]super jointing tool[/easyazon_link] that we recently acquired. It was not cheap by any means, but has had a massive impact on the speed in which beautiful wooden cupboards, doors and obviously stairs can be created. We have always invested in machinery rather than labour, as that is how we choose to economise.
We have used [easyazon_link identifier=”B0036L0IDE” locale=”UK” nw=”y” nf=”y” tag=”aperogirl-21″ cart=”y” localize=”n” popups=”n”]Tung Oil[/easyazon_link] to protect our lovely oak stairs, and we recommend at least three coats. It brings out the colour and character of any wood without it turning orange or shiny.
Each step has a rebated groove to take a [easyazon_link identifier=”B06VVJKL49″ locale=”UK” nw=”y” nf=”y” tag=”aperogirl-21″ cart=”y” localize=”n” popups=”n”] strip of LED lights[/easyazon_link]. These are cheap to buy, economical to run, practical and show off the wood to it’s best advantage. We always use the “warm white” ones.


    • We’re really not amazing! But thank you xxx

  1. Fantastic! I hope the trip home was more comfortable but full
    marks for endurance. Can’t wait for the next instalment.

    • Actually not massively better as we came home with a fridge and freezer amongst other things! Thank you xxx

  2. Haha, love the story… reminds me of when I sat in the boot with the hatch open hanging onto wood that extended way out the front and back of our hired little car. We looked like a seesaw with the car bring the middle pivotal point. The things we do 🙂 I like your take in renovating. Annette

    • Thank you! It’s all good fun! Well, most of the time anyway! x

  3. The of stairs which you have mentioned the above post are awesome. Some are unique designs wich i never saw before.

    • Thanks


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