Tuesday, April 07, 2009

Liberty vs conformity

It is hard to believe, as a foreigner in this country, that in France a region has only one kind of roof color. If you are living on the north side of the Loire river, chances are you will be covered under gray slates; else living under the red clay tile on the other side of the Loire. No choice for other colors in a residential area.

Looking at one of the French mottos, Liberty which consists of being able to do anything that does not harm others. Well, I don't think having a different kind of roof color is going to harm anyone, but I guess in this case conformity takes over the personal liberty in choosing what roof color his or her house going to be. On the other hand, it means that the group of students who took over the University president's office in order to get passed this semester without exams are violating this motto (they hurt some officers there).

Conformity in this case would mean that in France, you either see villages like this:

Or like this:

No choice for a sky blue color (maybe in very exceptional condition?)

No choice for a natural green color neither

In new residency areas, you rarely see anything like this: houses with different roof colors.

So, if all this life I'm dreaming to live under a blue roof, I need to pack my bag and move out of this country now or start dreaming of a gray slate roof for my future house. Sometimes adapting means giving up as well.


  1. unless there are some local urban laws you can choose whenever colour you want.
    there are some house in my village with clay tile.

  2. I suspect that there are nuances to the story about how any given area arrived at its building codes.

    Is your area an historic area? Is it a new tract housing development? Is it a "planned community"?

  3. sylvain,

    Yes I have seen some red clay tile in some area but they are usually old houses. Can you actually have roof color other than red and gray?

    La Framericaine,
    We have purposely visited areas that are not in "planned community". Our agent said it is very rare that an area is giving permission to build red clay tile houses these days unless it is for renovating old red roof. If you know of any areas that allow blue or green roof please let me know. :-)

  4. in Nantes you must checl the "PLU" plan local d'urbanisme
    I foud the explanation of the plan http://www.nantes.fr/fileadmin/telechargements/Urbanisme/guides_et_docs/plunantes.pdf but not the plan itself

  5. Anonymous8:56 PM

    Hi Bee Ean,
    Actually when I voted, I was looking at the shape and form more so than the color. I chose the grey because the gables on the roof seemed cozy, I could imagine myself sitting and reading a good book inside.

  6. Yes, I'm commenting on some really old posts, sorry.
    It is true that nowadays, most cities and villages have some zoning rules (PLU) that states that the style of new houses has to conform to the historical style of the region.
    In some areas, near a classified building (and in France, virtually any church, mansion or town hall is classified) rules are even more strict and new buildings has to be approved by "les architectes des batiments de france" who depends from the ministry of culture.
    So to sum it up, if you want your blue roof, you have to either find a village with no classified building and no PLU (they are getting really rare) or to build your house in some isolated area, out of the regulated zone.
    Sad fact is that even if you find such a place, you will have a really hard time to find a material seller that sells that unusual kind of colored tiles.