Lorraine Traditional Houses

Even in Lorraine houses made primarily of stone, wood is used for the roof structure, flooring, stairs and in the half timbered walls. Wood framing is also common in the area.

  • The traditional Lorraine house generally has a long entrance hall ending with stairs leading to the first floor.
  • A room is traditionally reserved to the grandparents and another room serves as a multifunctional communal area, either a living room, dining room, reception room or bedroom. The interior walls have decorative mouldings in most cases.
  • A stove is used to heat this room and also warms the heart of the building. The hallway also leads to a tiny kitchen and utility room called souillarde.
  • Upstairs, usually above the kitchen, there is a smoking room, several bedrooms that would be traditionally kitted out with a few pieces of furniture.
  • A door grants access to a balcony, and stairs lead to the attic. That small balcony is commonly found on many Lorraine houses.

Due to the climate the roof of the typical Lorraine property can sometimes be steeply pitched (up to 60 degrees) and the typical roof covering is made of flat clay tiles (tuiles écaille alsaciennes) which are specific to the Lorraine and neighbouring areas of north eastern France. These Tuiles écaille alsaciennes tiles are also called “queue-de-castor” tiles referring to their shape being similar to that of a beaver tail.

A very common house structure in Lorraine involved a split construction method where stone is used for the ground floor and half-timbering for the upper floors. This practice began after periods of war and bubonic plague, when villages were often burned down. To prevent the collapse of the upper floors ground floors were built of stone and upper floors were built of half-timbering, this effectively prevented the spread of fire. The lesser quality wood, in this case, Fir tree, was reserved for the back and hidden parts of the house. Wood framing is also a common sight. Thus it is not rare to see Lorraine houses made of stones, with an half-timbering structure upstairs and wood-framing on the gable to reinforce the style of the property and protect walls from the strong climate.

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