French Style Houses… Part 1

I had a hard time trying to put into words what it is that I want.  I always knew that I wanted “FRENCH”, but really though, there are many different styles of French architecture.  I knew I didn’t want the super formal French provincial style for my house, but don’t get me wrong, I totally *love* that style, and if I were building a two story house that is what I would do.

But we are building a one story house, which I didn’t think was French at all (until I started studying).  I don’t ever intend to sell this house and plan to live in it until I’m in my eighties, which may be wishful thinking, but a girl can dream.


The first exterior plans our architect sent us was a modernized version of Mediterranean architecture. Steel roof with a mix of tile roof and steel windows. He added working shutters at my request. But I’ve been thinking long and hard about it, and I don’t want a steel roof. I think it will look too “2010s”. Also, I don’t see a lot of metal roofing material when I study French architecture.  So, back to the drawing board.   I want a “French Country House”.  I thought, what exactly is “French Country”?? So my study of French architecture started.

This post ended up being super long, so I broke it down into part 1 and part 2.  Part 1 looks at actual architecture in France. Part 2 looks at Americanized French architecture.

As it turns out, there are TONS of different types of French houses.  Every region in France has a slightly different version!


This type of house had a steeply pitched roof, making it look like straight out of a fairy tale.  The height from the top to the bottom of the roof is usually at least as tall as the walls below.  If there is an upper story house it has dormer windows.


source Maxwell Storrie Baynes


source Maxwell Storrie Baynes


This is also a vague term, and usually just means very large manor house.  A Manoir and Chateau are essentially the same thing, but the chateau has to be on the heritage register.  They are usually formal and stately.  Below, is a stunning example of a Baroque Chateau, the Chateau Vaux Le Vicomte.

pics – source Wikipedia

Maison de Maitre

It is a free standing rectangular house that is usually two stories tall with an attic.  It usually has a symmetrical façade.  It usually has three windows across the first floor, but also may have five.  The Maison de Maitre usually has a slightly imposing appearance!

source Maxwell Storrie Baynes



source Maxwell Storrie Baynes

source Maxwell Storrie Baynes

The Domaine

In wine growing areas, the term chateau is actually used for the vineyard.  A “chateau” with a vineyard is known as a Domaine.

source Maxwell Storrie Baynes


A long, single story dwelling that is one room deep.



It is a one story country house that was built from 1650-1850.  The property was designed for easy living, with all living quarters on the ground floor.  The houses were mostly 1 room deep, but could be more.  The rooms had windows or French doors on both sides to get an indoor-outdoor feel.  The gardens often had a formal French style herb/kitchen garden as well.  Historically, the chartreuse was built as French country homes for the bourgeoisie.  In the 18th century, the style changed a little.  They often had carved stone cornices, stone moldings around doors and windows, stone sinks, small stone oval shaped windows (oeil de bouef) and often had an interior courtyard.  If there is an upper floor, it would be a mansard roof with towers at either end.

source Maxwell Storrie Baynes



The Villa

A more modern type of property, now typical in Provence and the South of France.  There are clean lines, lots of land and space.  They have the modern conveniences built in.


The Mas

A stone house usually in Provence as a rural property.  They vary in size and are less structured and less symmetrical than a bastide.  Originally all of the mas were south-facing due to the winds.

source – la porte property

Below is an example of a modern day Mas.

source – architect in Provence



The Bastide

It is the equivalent in Provence to the Maison de maitre.  The bastide is a symmetrical stone building at least two stories tall with big windows.  They are usually part of a larger property with out buildings.  It may be rectangular or square shape and is larger and more elegant than a Mas.  It has a tiled roof that is flatter than other parts of the region and stone walls that may be whitewashed.

The one below is a bastide but it is also kind of in a chartreuse style given how long it is.Girondine Style

A type of Bastide that may be L shaped.source

Colombage House

A half-timbered house, usually in the Normandy area. It looks like English houses because the area was right next to England and had the same influences.


Now, I know there are many more types of French houses, but these are the main ones.  Every region in France has different architecture.   What I did learn though, is that none of them have French provincial? Why? Because it’s American!

Click here to read PART TWO of French Style Houses!

Information Sources



  1. May 10, 2016 / 11:51 pm

    Wow! This is fascinating. We talk about loving French style, but really don't have an understanding of what it is. I can't wait for part 2!

    • May 11, 2016 / 5:15 am

      Part 2 will be up next week! I didn't realize I didn't understand French style until I began my study of it!

  2. May 11, 2016 / 11:17 pm

    Interesting post, Angelina. Thank you! We have stayed in several French homes when traveling in France – a mas in the south of France, and homes in Nantes, Brittany, and Normandy. I'm not certain what style they would be called. So excited to see your home when it is completed.

    • May 11, 2016 / 11:49 pm

      Thanks, Sarah! I'm sure you noticed in your travels how different the houses look (I suppose just like here in the US). How I wish to travel back to France, le sigh, maybe in a few years… The housing project is *so slow* it's ridiculous… I get excited about it then things go slow then I lose interest, then something happens, I get excited… and the cycle continues!

  3. May 12, 2016 / 12:46 am

    Bonjour Angelina! I ate this post up! Great information and photos. I vote for the Mas or the Bastide. How exciting to be building your dream home. Looking forward to Part 2 and your new house plans.

  4. May 12, 2016 / 3:32 am

    Bonjour Angelina! I ate this post up! Great info and photos. I vote for the Mas or the Bastide although all the French styles are gorgeous. How exciting to build your dream home. Looking forward to part two and house plans. Love your new post look.

    • May 12, 2016 / 4:44 am

      oops, double comments! Oh well! I like the Mas and Bastide as well but agreed, I'll take them all!! Thanks for the compliments, I'm liking my new blog look as well… took some time with coding and making my own images!

  5. May 13, 2016 / 12:55 am

    My absolute favorites!! If I could build I would do a spin on a French house!!

  6. May 15, 2016 / 12:58 am

    I LOVED this post. We lived in Europe for a time and truly French architecture (all of it) is my favorite. Thank you so much for linking up to Thoughts of Home on Thursday. You make our gathering a happier place.

    • May 16, 2016 / 7:12 pm

      I am glad you enjoyed reading it! French architecture is my favorite too, but then I think, oh, but I do like those houses in the Cotswolds, and I like the Alpine chalets too!

  7. May 16, 2016 / 6:06 pm

    Great post! I didn't there were so many styles! Thanks for joining Home Sweet Home!

  8. May 16, 2016 / 9:24 pm

    I love every single style.
    I can't wait to read more about what you chose.


  9. May 18, 2016 / 2:42 am

    I enjoyed looking at this beautiful round up of French styled houses so much. What a fun post to read. Thanks for sharing at The Creative Circle. Hope to see more this week! xoxo

  10. October 15, 2016 / 1:28 am

    Haaaaaaa. ha ha. I'm cracking up at the ending. None of them have French Provencial because it's American!

    Which one do you like? I know a little about this subject because of my studies at AAU. I have my textbook here and can look up just about anything you want to know related to the history of architecture. The roofs or rather the upper half of Maison de Maitre is a Tudor style. Here's a real shocker for you, there are some houses built in the Tudor style here in Anchorage…. it's interesting to see. Very unexpected for sure but it's nice to see something besides the odd asymmetrical jarringly lined structures that Alaskan building companies favor building. SMH. That's all I have to say.

    • October 19, 2016 / 1:31 am

      Well it's hard to choose which "one" I like, because I like them all!!! I'm sure that is strange seeing Tudor style houses up there, especially with those modern buildings that I personally hate!