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The half-timbered house style of Normandy

Updated: Dec 18, 2020

An iconic architectural french house style dating back to the late 15th century

Half-timbered properties in Le Bec-Hellouin
Half-timbered properties in Le Bec-Hellouin

Half-timbered houses are an iconic sight around the Normandy region of France. The unique architectural style dates back to the late 15th century and remained an influential technique in property design for around 300 subsequent years.

The style evolved from a time when people used the materials that were readily available in their local area rather than transporting materials from other parts of the country. As Normandy has an abundance of wooded areas and even more so centuries back, timber would have been an obvious choice as a building material.

In addition to timber there would have been some stone in the area although this would have been limited in supply in Northern France which was why it was often only used to create a solid base that could then be built upon with wood. Once the wooden structure was in place the spaces between the timber planks would have been filled with a mixture of small stones, earth, sand and straw. There were no set rules and the owners would make do with what they had to hand to use as a filler. The outside of the structure was then covered in torchis, a mixture of lime, straw, sand and clay which would have sealed the external structure from the outside elements.

The most important factor at the time would have been building a home that was structurally sound and hardy against the natural elements. This was the main priority over cosmetic appeal and yet today we find the mismatched timbers and uneven structures a uniquely charming characteristic of the Normandy half-timbered house that we are all so very fond of.

Should you travel to Normandy today you will find half-timbered properties wherever you go, the colourful non-conformist structures accompanied by vibrant flowered gardens provide a beautiful old-world charm like no other. For particular areas of interest Maison Chérie recommends visiting the following villages to see exquisite examples of half-timbered houses in the region:


Beuvron-en-Auge a village almost entirely made up of half-timbered properties. Those that aren’t have been sympathetically designed to provide a beautiful subtle contrast.

Lyons-la-Forêt a beautiful village that sits within a forested setting on the site of a 12th century castle.

Le Bec-Hellouin is picturesque and well known not only for its fine examples of half-timbered properties but also for its substantial abbey.

Beuvron-en-Auge, Lyons-la-Forêt and Le Bec-Hellouin have all been recognised by independent association ‘Les Plus Beaux Villages de France’ as being some of the most beautiful villages in France to visit with rich cultural heritage married to outstanding beauty.


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