The photos that follow will give you a sense of those crazy years and a glimpse of just how the house has become what it is today.
L'Atelier's garden - no hedge, no plants, no terraces ... just a field where a pony used to live!
L'Atelier's bedroom was the artist owner's studio and was packed with - well, a bit of everything!
The kitchen area, once an artist's workshop where medieval sacred art was restored. This is how it looked on our first day.
It took us two days and a lump hammer to remove these units as they were fixed into the stone walls and to the cement floor with rebar!
The bathroom had been the old grain store and had no ceiling, no insulation, and just bare stone and brick walls ...
Both the sitting room and the bedroom in the cottage part of Le Grand Atelier were once two incredibly tiny rooms - can you see where the join used to be?
This was the room that's now the library and dining room in the main house. Once a goat shed, it was used as a very basic office, was dominated by a mezzanine that covered most of its floor area, and was cut off from the rest of the house by a metre thick stone wall.
We dug out and barrowed away around 35 tonnes of cement waste from outside L'Atelier, where in typical French fashion it had been unceremoniously dumped ...
One of our favourite projects was renovating the old animal barn and turning it into a summer kitchen. It took us a whole winter and we certainly shivered our timbers, but it was great fun.
The first thing we did was to plant the flowering hedge and various fruit trees ... here it is now.
Hemp and lime render on the walls, oiled chestnut woodwork, but those same huge windows!
Rewiring, replumbing, tiling, fitting an oak kitchen, and oh, how I remember sanding and painting the ceiling and the staircase!
We put in new French doors, insulated, replastered, painted the whole room with natural paints, and finally laid a new floor ... et voilà!
It took a huge amount of work to turn it into the lovely room it is now: a mixture of hemp and lime, plaster, tadelakt, wood and tile.
We knocked the separating wall down on both floors to make bigger rooms; it was more complicated than it looks and involved lots of other work as well!
We employed a builder to knock through the wall. It was a scary experience for all of us; the builder got spooked by a 'presence' that he felt was buried in the wall and nearly ran away. But it was all worth it in the end, and it made the house what it is today.
Rather than re-dumping it somewhere else, we put it to good use as the core of what is now the shady Zen terrace in the far corner of L'Atelier's garden.
We repointed all the stonework with lime mortar, then lime rendered the short wall and whitewashed all the wood. We made all the wooden units ourselves to fit into the space.