One of the most distinctive characteristics of many French buildings
is the tall second story windows, often arched at the top, that break
through the cornice and rise above the eaves. This unusual window design
is especially noticeable on America's French provincial homes. Modeled
after country manors in the French provinces, these brick or stucco
homes are stately and formal. They have steep hipped roofs and a square,
symmetrical shape with windows balanced on each side of the entrance.
The tall second story windows add to the sense of height.
Over the past 50 years, architects have borrowed freely from a variety
of French details, creating a composite style known as French eclectic,
or simply French inspired.
Hallmarks of the French eclectic home include:
tall hipped roof, sometimes
with a slight upward tilt at the eaves
sliding glass doors, hinged French doors leading to balconies or
casement windows hinged
at the side and opening at the center
Functioning shutters, often with working louvers
Many homes were embellished with details such as paired columns and
elaborate wrought iron cresting along the rooftop. But the most striking
feature is the steep, boxy mansard roof, recognizable by its trapezoid
shape. Unlike a triangular gable, a mansard roof has almost no slope
until the very top, when it abruptly flattens. This nearly perpendicular
roofline creates a sense of majesty, and also allows more usable living
space in the attic.
Chateau style is used primarily for architect-designed landmark houses.
This style is based on monumental 16th century chateaux of France.
Steeply pitched roofs; busy roof lines with many vertical elements;
multiple dormers are part of characteristics of this style. Steeply
pitched hipped roofs are sometimes truncated above a flat roof deck;
others rise to high pyramidal apex or hipped ridge. Gables, doorways,
windows and other facade elements are commonly ornamented with shallow
relief carving. Windows are usually divided by stone mullions into
narrow vertical units with smaller transoms above. Windows and doorways
may be arched.