From the north side of our roof, which faces The Chateau, I snapped a few photos sticking my head out the velux (skylight). If you look very very closely, (click on the photo to enlarge) just to the right of the tallest tree, you can just make out a tiny portion of the facade of The Chateau. This must be where all the people who would complain live. I should mention that the Chateau is not a working, operational, medieval Chateau, inhabited by knights and damsels and paysans. It has been converted into luxury apartments for modern-day renaissaince lords and ladies.
In the middle of July we met with a planner/designer/project manager who came to the house to assess feasibility of a roof terrace. Tim, the planner, originally seduced us into thinking that we might be able to get away with building a waterproof concrete floor over the existing rooms we are currently working on in the deuxieume etage, thereby creating a troisieme etage. He proposed removing the roof at the ridgebeam and taking off roof tiles on both the north and south sides. This would open up a roof terrace area of approximately 20 square meters. Where do we sign, we said, and when can we start? He indicated that he would get back to us with drawings within a week, which turned into two, three and four weeks. We figured we were small potatoes, but called him anyway. He had some bad news.
Doug and I were not quite ready to give up on Plan A (the actual roof terrace removing the ridge beam) and were desperately trying to think outside the box looking for solutions to the stairway access issue. I found a few UK websites offering a ideas for "hatch-type" cellar and roof doors. Some of these are designed specifically for roof terraces, are electronically operated and are exhorbitantly priced. When Doug described the problem to our Aussie friend John, he independently came up with a hatch-door solution. Bingo! Maybe there's something there.
We were also so ready to just move on to the next step, not even really knowing what the next step really was. Tim suggested arranging a meeting with the Powers-That-Be in Foix and seeing how they will react to Plan B(2). This upcoming meeting on September 6 will by no means result in the most sought-after Planning Permission, but will merely give us some clues as to how to proceed further. This is a critical step, because thus far we only have hearsay. It's good info, but it's not gospel, nor does it necessarily jive with the whim of the Powers-That-Be on any given day. Talk to Person (A) and they will say getting approval for shutter colors is the real 'biggie', while Person (B) will insist that we could do a roof terrace facing south but not north (i.e. The Chateau), and Person (C) might say exactly the opposite because of the proximity to the house across the courtyard. Person (A) will say you cannot remove any front facade, Person (B) says as long as you leave a 3' knee wall it's OK, and Person (C) says forget it. The bottom line, of course, is that none of these people are the actual Powers-That-Be.