Provencal Architecture and the Shutters of Provence
I’m often asked why I called my blog ‘Shutters and Sunflowers.’ To me, they are both so defining of Provence and indeed much of France. Throughout this beautiful country, many of the buildings, whether historic or recently built, are adorned with shutters.
And in the summertime, everywhere but especially in Provence, the fields are painted yellow, resplendent with golden carpets of smiling sunflowers. Somehow it wouldn’t be Provence without its dazzling, dancing tournesols and the shutters which adorn almost every window. But where did these shutters come from? Continue reading here for the original article and photos of beautiful Provencal shutters.
The Shutters of Provence
It’s not surprising that social media platforms are plastered with photos of shutters in the South of France. These shutters provide a bright contrast to the stone that is typical of most of the residential architecture in Provence.
However, there are practical reasons for these shutters as they provide a non-powered, eco-friendly way of heating or cooling a house. They also block out external light, insects, wind and even some noise. Today, heat-cool units are reasonably standard in homes. However, in traditional houses, it was with shutters that one regulated the internal temperatures.
It’s all Greek to me
The Phoenicians (Ancient Greeks from the Levant) arrived in Provence with “gifts” that remain entrenched in the diet and lifestyle. It was this group who introduced the concept of shutters to control air temperature inside a structure. At the time, these “shutters” made with marble, which was not the most practical of materials. Wood which was both readily available, and considerably less expensive, gradually replaced marble.
Shutters are one common aspect of residential architecture in Provence. Contemporary building materials such as energy-efficient windows eliminate or at least reduce the need for shutters. However, some villages require shutters as part of their building code to retain the traditional Provencal residential look. Some communities go to the extent of dictating the acceptable colours of the shutters.
Along with shutters, there are aspects of construction that must be maintained in most villages in Provence. The terracotta semi-cylindrical, Monk and Nun roof tiles, create a water-resistant layer and some degree of fire retardant. Read more about French real estate and terminology.