France is the land where everything is done right. The standard work week is 35 hours, wine and cheese are major industries, and people dress up just to walk down the street. Architecture is no different. French architects found a timeless, light, airy, welcoming building design about three hundred years ago and stuck with it.
This light and airy style lives or dies on its windows. For a light, airy, classic look, you need clear and elegant windows. Without good windows, the best architect in the world couldn’t make a French house worth looking at. Here is a quick guide to what makes these Fenêtres so great.
If Versailles has taught French architects anything, it’s that bigger windows are better. French windows are multi-pane casement windows, covered with wooden shutters. The shutters either block out the light entirely or let all the light in. This lets you and your belle have total privacy at night and still see each other lit up by natural light during the day.
Windows in France also usually extend all the way to the floor to let the maximum possible amount of light in. Because windows open outwards, in France the boundary between what is a window and what is a door has disappeared. Both the term “French Windows” and “French Doors” mean the same thing: beautifully constructed patterns of clear glass that let in the light when closed, and guests when open.
The elegant patterns in French glass were originally functional, not stylish. By dividing a window into dozens of panes of glass, French glassmakers managed to bring costs down to a level most people could afford. With patterned pane windows, you didn’t have to be the Sun King to have a light and airy home.
In the modern age, the price of large panes of glass has almost come down to earth. However, most people in France prefer the old elegant style to large single panes.
A serious disadvantage of these beautiful old windows is that they let the weather in with the light. Paris might have a mild winter, but a lot of Parisians pay out the nose every year just to keep the temperature of their homes above freezing. Some companies in France have begun to replace the old glass panes with identical high-efficiency vinyl windows, saving both money and the environment.
French windows are just beautiful, and perfectly encapsulate the French approach to life. They are elegant, practical, and welcome each guest and each sunrise with open arms.