Architecture of France: Périgord Noir

Traditional lauze roofs

Hammering home beauty

The striking characteristic of the famous chateaux and old buildings of the Périgord Noir is not just that they are built with beautiful limestone, but that their roofs are made of the same stone.

It is known as a lauze roof, a style unique to the area east of the Dordogne, and just one man and his son specialise in it.

Thierry and Florian Chapoulie are called on to restore roofs both for national heritage sites (monuments historiques) and for private owners – and their order books are full for the next eight years.

I met up with them deep in the countryside as they restored the roof of the ancient bread oven of a private house.

“We use the same techniques that were used 300 years ago,” said Mr Chapoulie senior. “Our only tool is a hammer, which we use to shape each stone tile ...

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