Roman & Romanesque Architecture in France

Are you going on holiday to France? Perhaps you’ll want to do some sightseeing and admire some of France’s rich architectural heritage. Here we’ve highlighted the main styles of architecture to appear in France throughout history.

With the exception of some Neolithic caves, the first period of architecture to take hold in France comes from the Gallo-Roman period. The Romans, who controlled France and much of Europe, established a permanent presence in France during the 1st century BC which lasted for centuries.  Among the examples of architecture in France built during the Gallo-Roman period are aqueducts, markets, theatres, streets and fortifications, many of which can still be seen today. The best place to find god remains of Gallo-Roman architecture in France is the south of France.

Famous examples of Gallo-Roman French Architecture

The Roman Theatre built at Orange is a must-see for Roman French Architecture enthusiasts while the amphitheatres at Arles and Nimes are also well preserved and worth seeing. Nimes is also home to the famous Maison Carree built in the Roman architectural style. There is also a good example of a Gallo-Roman public building in Vaison-La-Romaines.

Romanesque French Architecture

After the collapse of the Roman Empire, very little happened in terms of French architectural development for five centuries. Although there is evidence of some buildings in France dating to the dark ages, very little has remained today. It was not until the 11th century that French architecture was brought back to life by Romanesque architecture which was inspired by a European religious revival. Romanesque churches, many of which are well preserved and visible across France today, have several peculiar characteristics. These include round arches, heavy walls and very few small windows making the interior of Romanesque buildings quite dark. Romanesque architecture is also comparatively more simple in its decorations that French architecture from other periods. Romanesque architecture remained popular in Europe up until the mid 12th century when it gave way to Gothic architecture in France.

Examples of French Romanesque Architecture

Many of the most significant examples of Romanesque architecture in France were deliberately built along the great pilgrimage route to Santiago De Camino in Spain. This ensured that as many people as possible would have seen these buildings as they passed by them on their pilgrimage. A prime example of this is the Basilica Serlin located in Toulouse, as well as two abbeys which can still be seen in Caen today.

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