windows cote cour buanderie copy

Quite amazingly, our windows might date to the 1700s, according to the architect from the Bâtiments de France who inspected our place. We have records for the place dating to 1624, but we’re not sure precisely when it was built.

Windows used to be different. Glass was too expensive for most medieval folks. But by the mid-1500s nearly every home had glass windows. It was the disruptive technology of its time.

According to, windows took on the charming style of small glass squares set in oak frames. By 1660 in Paris and later in other big cities, the French turned these into big, criss-crossed windows.

buanderie window after
After…the first of nine. The decorative crossbars will be added later.

I can just imagine the discussion. Husband: “Our neighbors just put in new windows. They say it really cut the drafts. I think we ought to upgrade, too.”

Wife: “I totally agree. Our windows look so last-century. Here we’re putting in the latest wood carvings above the fireplaces, and we don’t bother to get new windows? I say if we’re going modern, then let’s go all-in.”

Somehow, the 18th century windows lasted for about 300 years. But it’s time to change again. Not by choice.

The frames are so rotted that it’s hard to shut them.

Beyond repair
Beyond repair
wind blowing
A curtain blowing in the wind with the window closed!

Our carpenter, Menuiserie Ribo in Carcassonne, is one of only a couple of carpenters accepted by the Bâtiments de France to replace windows on historically protected buildings. Their Web site says, “We make it a point of honor to copy the cachet of existing elements while using strict standards for materials for insulation against noise and heat.”

Ribo window
Side view shows double panes, double seals. They are HEAVY.

6 thoughts on “Window to the past

  1. Love reading about your renovations. We were in Carcassone last October for the first time. We might visit some more of the surrounding towns this year.

    I like your stories.



  2. Good luck with the renovations! I love the ‘pretend conversation’ of husband and wife talking about windows from centuries ago. Made me giggle (which I needed seeing that it’s 6:30 in the morning over here right now).

    Have a wonderful weekend!

    Lisa Favre


  3. I just learnt a lot about Windows, thank you, this is why I love blog’s, one can pick up little snippets of information that are really fascinating. I always imagined the criss cross windows were the oldest, who knew!


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