Bordeaux Traditional Echoppe Houses

The term échoppe bordelaise could be translated as an 'echoppe house from Bordeaux', found in the Aquitaine region of France. This is a property style widespread all over the city. Outside of the city, an échoppe is a workshop. However in Bordeaux, these typical properties are popular town houses and housing.


Numerous quarters in Bordeaux have their own specific streets with échoppes. They were originally devoted to working classes, but over the centuries became gentrified and sought after to a certain extent. Nowadays, they are still often inhabited by middle to upper-class residents. The 1995 census revealed that about 11,000 échoppes could be found throughout the city.

As of the 15th century, Bordeaux comprised échoppes whose use was both professional and residential (tradesmen and craftsmen used to work as well as live there). During the 18th century, the use became almost only residential: they were transformed in town houses.

Architecture and layout

Echoppes town houses differ, as do the materials used to construct them. Cut limestone is generally used but window and door frames are often decorated differently. Decoration can take the shape of intricate sculpted designs. The roof is generally covered with tiles.

échoppes bordelaises built between 1850 and 1930, are single storey houses. As such traditionally they had no upper floor, their inhabitants often extended the living area at the back of the house, reducing the garden at the rear. Although échoppes bordelaises are single storey, they do have a cellar on the street side of the house where coal and firewood can be stored.

Two main types of échoppes can be identified:

  • Simples échoppes: with a 5/6 metre long front facade wall, they have a corridor leading to a bedroom on the street side, a dark middle room and a common living room on the courtyard side.
  • Doubles échoppes: they have a wider front wall (8/10m long) and a central corridor leading to several rooms on both sides.

Echoppes in Bordeaux have many similarities with other popular houses built at the same time in south-west cities of France. For instance, traditional houses in Toulouse have the same rectangular shape than the échoppes bordelaises and are also single storey properties.

Echoppes bordelaises are equipped with a garden in the back and often a well. The garden was originally used either as a vegetable garden or had simply a decorative purpose.

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