|The Independent Traveler's Newsletter PAGE SIX|
|Examples of Other Architectural Styles in France|
France has made a significant contribution to architecture, most notably its own innovation called 'Gothic'. Architecture in France can be traced to before the time of Christ. Functionality was always the prime consideration ~ many were engineering masterpieces ~ but architectural form in France also had an important influence. It evolved over the centuries into distinct styles. Architecture was as much purposeful as it was an artistic expression.
The earliest examples of architecture in France are Roman, and, as we said on page one of this newsletter, the French can be justly proud of the concerted effort they have made to preserve and protect these fine and valuable treasures. We cannot stress this enough, as we believe France as a nation has done more than others to treasure and protect the vast wealth of historic riches from those who came before, going back as far as the prehistoric sites that exist from Brittany to the south. More examples of well-preserved Roman architecture can be found in France than in any other European country, followed by Medieval, Romanesque, Gothic, Renaissance, Baroque and the more recent architectural periods in French history that are as interesting and pleasing. We don't cover every architectural period here, but we bring you some examples of the most familiar in addition to those mentioned in Romanesque to Renaissance.
is the best preserved Roman amphitheater in the world in the 1st century AD to carry water to Nîmes
The Romans were engineers and may have been the best builders of all time. The created functional as well as decorative structures such as aqueducts, roads and monuments.
most intriguing period of architecture for those who don't live in Europe
is the vast Medieval period that followed the Dark Ages ~ a time of extensive
construction of fortress buildings: defensive structures needed during
the centuries of wars, battles and conflicts. These are the buildings
with arrow slits, often surrounded by moats or having drawbridges, and
always with sturdy towers and small windows. This design style overlapped
with Romanesque and Gothic, which were both preferred for religious buildings.
The Château de la Vigne
in the Cantal, shown here, is today a wonderful chambres d'hôtes.
was begun in the 1400s when the architecture of the Renaissance was flourishing
in Italy but had just begun to see the light of day in France.
During the reign of Louis XIII, Louis XIV and Louis XV, Baroque architecture became popular in France for rather grand structures ~ architecture borrowed from the Italian Baroque but that was decidedly French. Two excellent examples are the Château at Versailles and Paris' Luxembourg Palace and Gardens.
Asymmetrical in design, with plants and animals used prolifically, Art Nouveau began at the end of the 19th century and carried over into the twentieth century. Hector Guimard was France's specialist in this design form and is responsible for many buildlings in Paris, the very attractive Métro signs, and buildings in other regions of the country. Curvilinear, sensual forms were the hallmark of Art Nouveau art and architecture.
there are Art Déco interiors in many of the Parisian restaurants
and brasseries ~ the style was all the rage in the late 1920s and during
the 1930s. After all, the Paris Exposition Internationale des
Arts Décoratifs et Industriels Modernes of 1925 gave the movement
its name ~ although it took nearly three decades for the term 'art déco'
to come into common use. Up until that time it was usually referred
to as style moderne. In Paris, Art Déco residential
buildings became popular for their architecture ~ spacious rooms and lots
of light ~ not necessarily for their artistic appeal. Symmetrical,
and influenced by cubism and geometric shapes, Art Déco, whether
in the decorative arts or architecture, always seems refreshing and new.
Perhaps the best example in Paris is Cinema Rex, which also has the distinction
of seating more moviegoers than any single screen cinema in the world.
Modern & Magnificent Montpellier
France has its pockets of modern architecture, quite honestly not all of it is appealing or even uniquely French. But, one can certainly find many buildings that are quite memorable and well done. Here we show you the work of Spaniard Ricardo Bofill in Montpellier and La Grande Arche at La Défense in Paris by von Spreckelsen.
Antigone's design, often referred to as 'neo-Greek' architecture, was most likely influenced by the young architect's time in Greece where he spent time with his father at the age of sixteen. Antigone was a long project for Bofill, from 1978 to 1992, as he both designed and built the buildings. During that time he also designed and built the Place du Nombre d'Or, also in Montpellier, between 1979 and 1984. The architect has a long list of projects throughout the world, many of which are in France.
The Arche at La Défense was designed by Danish architect Johann Otto von Spreckelsen as an entry into a contest conceived by French President François Mitterand. Unfortunately, the architect died two years before it was completed in 1989, but the project was aptly completed by French architect Paul Andreu. It was designed as a monument to humanity and humanitarian ideals ~ a modern version of the Arc de Triomphe without any military overtones. In fact, it is officially called La Grande Arche de la Fraternité.
[Photos copyright Cold Spring Press 2008. All rights reserved.]
Built from dry stone, the borie is most commonly seen on farms or in meadows where livestock graze. Often a shelter for shepherds, bories have been used for other practical purposes, as they are built easily and without mortar. One requirement, of course, is to have stones, so bories can be found where the land is rocky. When stones needed to be cleared away, it made good sense to put them to use. Bories can be found in some form in many countries.
This practical rural type of construction has been known in France dating to the Ligurians in approximately 600 BC up to Roman times. But, bories have been built in modern times as well, as is evidenced by the more elaborate form serving as a chapel at Château de Talhouët. From the ancient ones found in Provence and elsewhere in France, it certainly seems that they last forever ~ much like the dry stone walls found on many rural roads and country lanes throughout France.
Borie is from the Latin word ' boaria ' which is a stable for oxen. Costing practically nothing to build because the stones were lying on the ground begging to be used, the borie could have been a tool shed, a shepherd's shelter or a barn. Some have been built large enough to be a retreat for modern-day folk who wanted to get away for a day or two.
In the Luberon of Provence, there is a village ~ Le Village des Bories ~ which is a classified historic monument. There are some thirty dry stone structures in simple shapes, some even have vaulted ceilings. Their simplicity is only part of their charm ~ what is even more astounding is that these mortar-free buildings are so enduring.
Visit http://www.avignon-et-provence.com/luberon/village-des-bories/gb/ to take a virtual visit of the village and see its timeless bories for yourself.
[Photo credits: Bories in Provence, unknown. Chapel at Château de Talhouët copyright 2008 Cold Spring Press. All rights reserved.]
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