Rhone-Alpes Half-Timbered Houses

Rhone-Alpes’s typical half-timbered properties are distinctly beautiful. The use of wood forms the key element of these Rhone Alpes properties. Wood is used both inside and outside the house, for both decoration or protection.


Rhone-Alpes house types and the materials used can be categorized in the wide German «pan de bois» (half-timbering) architectural family. The popularity of half-timbering in Rhone-Alpes comes from wood being a primary product used in the structure of a traditional house (number 2 on image below). The local material is abundant and the Swiss / German influence is particularly strong in this area of France. These typical houses are often seen in the Bresse area of Rhone Alpes. The walls are filled using cob, only then are the floor and the roof structure built. The wooden framework is naturally strong and rigid once erected, the strength of the structure can be supplemented using wood plugs. The rural heartland of the Bresse area offers plenty of these half timbered houses. Rhone-Alpes colombage houses are above all urban properties. This half-timbered style is a legacy of the Middle Ages. Some exquisite examples of half timbering can be found, having superbly resisted the rigours of 2nd WW. The dominant construction materials used in the Rhone-Alpes region of France are stone and wood. Like in Alsace, the half-timbered structure is built over a stone structure, protecting the first floor from potential fires and humidity. Sometimes, walls are also made up of a cob and stone mix.
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Some Rhone-Alpes half timbered houses have a corbelling structure, giving more space to the upper floors’ rooms. A corbel (number 1 on image above) is in this case a piece of wood jutting out of a wall to carry the superincumbent weight of the floor above. This is a technique used since Neolithic times – late Stone Age (around 3,500 BC): this is actually a traditional construction method in the region. Half-timbered properties are partially made of local stones, the half-timbering covering a part of the house only (number 3 on image above).

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