Not surprisingly, the architecture in different regions of France varies quite a bit. In the Ile de France where I live – (The “Island of France” denotes the Parisian region and it encompasses quite a bit of the suburbs) – the principal architecture we see nowadays is square houses made of cement. Sure, they’re plastered and painted, but they sort of look like cookie cutter houses. You rarely see brick around here – and wood? Practically non-existent. But the old houses were built from meulière.
Meulière is pronounced mull (like mull it over) yair (like hair with a y). Mull-yair. It’s a reddish-brown stone that is very porous and is joined together with a lime plaster to create a wall. Meulière houses were built from 1880-1930, and were often embellished with iron railings, characterising the whole as Art Nouveau style. Let’s see some examples.
Here is a wall built from meulière stone.
As you can see, meulière is most often reddish in colour. But it’s sometimes beige, or very dark beige – darkened with soot. It can be bits of stones that are plastered together like the wall you see up above, where the whole has a rather homogeneous look. This is actually called rocaillage (row-kai-ahge) – when you combine bits of stone with plaster and mix them together.
Or they can be whole stones with very rigid plaster borders like the wall you see just below.
Sometimes it’s just the façade of a house.
Sometimes it’s the entire house.
Our house would look exactly like this if it were a meulière.
We almost bought a meulière 4 years ago, but the timing/budget/location were not right.
I loved that house though. It had an extension for the master bedroom.
Sometimes we see urban influences crowding out these magnificent art nouveau houses.
And we also come across travesties, such as this one. A meulière house that was extended upwards in cement to create a singular eyesore.
But most of the time they look like this.
Totally Parisian. Totally magnificent.