French Architecture Is Evolving With Time

river gallery of the Château de Chenonceau
The river gallery of the Château de Chenonceau, designed by Philibert Delorme and Jean Bullant

French architecture is a beautiful combination of art and science. It has evolved over time, due to several cultural and traditional precedents. It is one of the oldest in the world and it doesn’t come as shock that people come from all over the world to see the wonders of French architecture. Not only were most French buildings unaffected from the effects of the World War,s but the government has also made great efforts to preserve their historic sanctity.

In earlier times, civilizations popped up near rivers and other bodies of waters and French architecture followed the same theme. Most of the earliest signs of French architecture are found in the countryside and dates back to as old as the Stone Age in sites such as Brittany. Roman style architecture greatly influenced French architecture in the first century and can be observed in Pont du Gard and Maison Carree. The Roman Basilica Style was especially popular and many Merovingian and Carolingian architectural structures emerged in France.

Romanesque Style

The next era brought forward the Romanesque period in France during the 1000’s and 1100’s, when churches and monasteries began to be built all over France. Round arches, massive pillars, vaults and stone ceilings were made part of every church that was built during that era. Southern France architecture is a great interpretation of this period and the grotesque figures atop doorways and columns give the impression of constant movements. Most common examples of this kind of architecture can still be seen in Moissac, Autun, and Vezelay.

Gothic Style

The gothic style of architecture is probably the best era in the history of France. Pointed arches, thin columns and graceful vaulted ceilings were accompanied by ornate painted murals on the thick walls and pointed stain glass windows, allowing the sun to pour inside the spacious space. This three-dimensional architecture can be seen in cathedral of Notre Dame and other cathedrals at Reims, Amiens and Chartres.


The renaissance also known as “rebirth” in France actually began in Italy in the 1400’s and shifted attention to their grace and beauty rather than the celebration of God and church. Architecture was humanized and nude human figures began to erupt in major adornments in public buildings. The oldest parts of the Louvre are a great example. After the 1600’s, town planning was introduced to Paris and famous squares called Place des Vosges and the Pont Neuf bridge survive until today. Salomon de Brose’s Luxembourg Palace, made especially for Marie de Medici, was designed with simplicity and intrinsically decorated with paintings by Peter Paul Rubens.

The Golden Era

The 1700’s brought forward a change in taste for French architecture. When it began to gain attention and amass respect from all over the world. The French decided it was time they changed their philosophy about structural science and art. This was marked as a Golden Age for French architecture and after the death of Louis XIV, a new architectural style emerged in France known as Rococo, in which ornate graceful curves took place of the sharp ceilings and heavy arches. This era was celebrated and followed for almost fifty years in France.

Modern Times

With all its fame and glory of the previous buildings that represented times long gone, France has had no qualms about building structures that represent modern architecture as well and they fit well within its skyline. The Centre Pompidou is no exception.


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