There is something so wonderful about French buildings and all too often we miss seeing them as we hurry past or simply focus on everything at eye-level. In the past I’ve probably been one of the worst, focusing on just cramming as many of the things we love to do into a busy couple of weeks & not really taking the time to take a good look at what’s around me. However since we’ve been able to spend more time over here, I’ve started to slow down & actually start looking properly at the buildings & the wonderful detail that is so unique to France.
A few years ago Andy said to me ‘You should always look up’ and he’s right as since I’ve been doing that I’ve seen some beautiful things that I would otherwise have missed if I’d carried on just scurrying by or pottering from one market stall to another simply entranced by what was on offer.
There are 3 main things now that I associate with buildings in France, which on the face of it don’t sound particularly great & they are peeling & faded paint, shabby but chic shutters & intricate ironwork balconies.
But these, together with the wonderful old doorways & other great architectural details, give the town’s and villages around us a wonderful faded, slightly fatigued, relaxed elegance, so I thought I’d share some of my favourites with you.
First the Paint
Locally we’re lucky to have so many of the buildings painted in the wonderful colours that come from the Ochres at nearby Roussillon & they seem to almost glow or otherwise have a delightfully soft, chalky appearance. The old painted signs that appear over shop doorways or simply written on walls just add to the look.
Shutters here are a key detail on all the local buildings, how else can you keep the fierce heat locked outside in the height of summer?
I’m pretty sure our neighbours thought we were mad last summer when we didn’t head inside from 12 till 4 to enjoy the shade of the house with the shutters firmly closed – clearly we are the ‘mad dogs & English men’ who ‘go out in the mid day sun’.
Personally I love the often mended, old louvred shutters where the paint is cracked, faded & often peeling off – they really are the epitome of ‘Shabby Chic’
So many houses & buildings have incredibly intricate, patterned ironwork balconies & they are really beautiful. The old ones, in particular, hark back to a different time – with their ‘Belle-Époque’ art-nouveau feel. Although even the more modern additions are beautifully crafted.
In Bédarieux, across in the Hérault there is a guide to all the different balconies put in place by the ‘bourgeois’ families and they really are quite stunning http://m.herault-tourisme.com/patrimoine-culturel/bedarieux/les-balcons/tourisme-PCULAR034V50RK5I-1.html
Wherever we go locally we always notice something new & it is really worth the taking the time just to slow down, look up & really appreciate what it is that makes France so ‘French’ and so beautiful