The style of Norman houses
When we say Norman house, we think of the best known of Norman houses. Since as always, the region does not have only one architectural style, and that the structures have also evolved over the centuries, from renovations, embellishments or reconstructions. Shall we summarize you? The most famous Norman house, the one found on postcards, in the green countryside and in the common imagination, is a Thatched half-timbered house. Traditional farms, often with outbuildings, with Celtic and Scandinavian influences.
However, Normandy is not just about it. Walk from town to town, you will find that some half-timbered houses have tiled roofs, an inevitable development in cities. Lower Normandy has stone houses more often than half-timbered. That some cities are entirely modern, since many of them were completely rebuilt after the bombings of World War II. And that those by the sea are populated with bourgeois villas of the purest Belle Époque style, a heritage from the holidays of high society before the war!
The Norman half-timbered house
You have the big picture, it's time to go into detail. The most typical Norman house and the oldest is therefore the half-timbered house, recognizable at first glance by its wooden frame visible from the outside. These half-timbered houses are built around thick beams that form tiles, an architectural technique inherited from the Middle Ages. In dark or colored wood if they are painted, they generally contrast with the color of the walls between the beams, the famous tiles. These are traditionally made of cob, a mixture of water, hay and clay, applied to the wooden structure to fill the spaces between the beams. Once dry, it is covered with a coating of sand, linen and warmth which gives it its typical shade of fresh butter and protects it from the elements.
The Norman thatched house
They are called thatched cottages for a good reason: traditional Norman houses have thatched roofs. In other words, a mixture of rye, reeds or wheat fixed on a wooden structure, built with the same beams as those of the half-timberings. Inexpensive to build, these roofs were then the norm for peasants, and remain one of the most characteristic elements of a Norman house. Another peculiarity, these roofs are high and sloping, often falling down to the windows of the ground floor. When the house has a floor, it is also common to find cutouts in the thatched roof to let the windows pierce!
The Norman house on stone foundations
Another characteristic of the Norman house typical is located at its base. Foundations in stone and flint often serve as a foundation for the half-timbering, visible under beams and cob. Local pride, moreover, which offers solid and stable foundations for construction ... The proof is that they have survived through the ages and have become one of the hallmarks of traditional Norman architecture! Not all houses have it, and the absence of visible stone foundations does not automatically rule out the architecture of the vintage. If there is half-timbering and thatched roof, in principle, it is difficult to go wrong.