Friday, September 11, 2009


The roofs in the Cantal region are distinctive. I don't know how widespread the roof style is beyond Cantal, but we saw it pretty much everywhere we went in the area. The roofs are tiled with ardoise (slate) lauze (shale/schist).

A typical Cantal building in Salers.

In contrast to most of northern France where the slate tiles are square, these are all rounded on one end which makes for a very rustic looking scalloped roof. Smaller pieces of slate shale are used at the peak, and each successive row of tiles gets larger toward the eave line.

Rounded slate shale roof tiles.

The combination of the slate shale roofs and the dark volcanic building stone gave the buildings, and thus the villages and towns, a somber dark look. But they contrasted very well with the green surroundings and the bright flowers, mostly brilliant red geraniums, that decorated nearly every stoop and window sill.

A decorative weather vane tops this roof.

UPDATE: Thanks to CHM for pointing out that this stone is a shale or other schistic rock rather than slate. Shales and slates are from the same family stones that split or cleave easily in to layers. Slates are much finer than shales.


  1. They really do roofs right in the Auvergne, don't they?

  2. I was struck by the amount of ardoise in Angers. My family's house has slate stairs even. In fact, they have these blue candies called quernons to represent the bluish tint of ardoise in the region. I'll be back in Angers in November--very excited!

  3. Beautiful weather vane!


  4. The specific term in French for that kind of stone used for roofing is "lauze". It is much thicker than slate and is used mostly in mountainous regions.

    Here is a link in French:

  5. Those roofs make me think of the fairytale of 'Hans and Gretl' and the gingerbread house. I'm sure you know it too! Martine

  6. I am sure Betty C. can tell you all about the roof tiles made of Lauze because it is what they used to have in Averyon and Ardeche. They are also very expensive. A lot of paysans are selling their Lauze tiles and replacing their roof with generic tiles. Foreigners renovating their house are trying to stay as "typique" as possible.

  7. They sort of look like fish scales.

  8. evelyn, they're very picturesque!

    rachael, I'll have to look for those quernons; what do they taste like?

    bettyann, yes!

    chm, merci. J'ai changé mon texte.

    martine, me too!

    nadege, that doesn't surprise me.

    starman, exactly! I thought the same.

  9. if memory serves, they are blue chocolate coating over a heath bar sort of crunchy center.


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