History, culture, landscape and weather conditions have created an architectural uniformity in France’s regions. Just by showing a picture of a French village or a house, someone can guess which part of France you traveled to. Let’s take a tour of the most recognisable region of France.
Alsace has definitely a Germanic influence with its colored half-timbered houses and steeply pitched roof made with flat clay tiles. Some traditional houses have strong colored painted wall on the ground floor, with each color having its own significance – in the Middle Ages the colors were used to differentiate each artisans – the blue was for the wood artisan, the red, the iron maker, the yellow to the bakery,…very practical at the time for people who couldn’t read the front signs!
The distinctive traditional architecture of the Basque villages is the etxe, maison in Basque. The etxe is quite unique with its white façade clad with green or red timber beams and shutters. The front door will be usually exposed to the East (to face the rising sun) and the display of the construction date above the entrance as well as the family name of the owner.
The authentic houses in Brittany are made with granite walls and their roof with slates. There are mostly oriented South so they are protected against the strong westerly winds from the Atlantic Coast. The charming chaumières in the countryside with their thatched roofs represent the typical traditional house. Today, most are renovated and often converted to B&B.
In Savoie, the chalets are part of the landscape as much as the Alps in the backgorund. Walls are often made of stone and bear a structure made of wood. A typical chalet has wooden stairs in the front of the house outside to reach the first floor’s balcony.
Picturesque hilltop villages, mas, bastides, provencales (Provence Houses) dominate the Mediterranean region. The classic provencale has often its wall and shutters paint in soft colors and have some tiled roof and stone walls.
Everything is made of brick in the region! Walls are made of bricks, the doors’ and windows’ frames are generally made of red bricks and the roof is covered with red tile roof. Toulouse is named the pink city because of the predominance of the red brick buildings, but Albi and Montauban can earn the same title.
7- Dordogne, Périgord
Dordogne is one of the most traditional departments of France full of picturesque villages and authentic fortified towns. Alongside the hundreds of castles, the maison du Périgord Noir is typical of the landscape here with its massive limestone buildings with its round or square pigeonholes or pigeonniers.
8- Loire valley
The landscape of the 280km long Loire Valley (la vallée de la Loire) is known for the quality of its architectural heritage and is world-famous castles, historic towns and villages. In December 2000, UNESCO added this region to its World Heritage Sites recognising it as “ an exceptional cultural landscape”.
Rendezvous en Français is Sandrine & Isabelle, two French natives sisters living in Sydney, who wants to share their country language, culture and lifestyle with all France enthousiasts. If you need any assistance to organise your next trip to France, Isabelle is your travel guide. And remember that French locals appreciate the effort of you talking French. If you need to learn a few basic and polite phrases, don’t hesitate to contact Sandrine for traveller classes.