Frames in The Fall

by Mathieu

Last weekend we went on a little trip to the Vosges, a mountainous region in north-east France. We wanted to go hiking and explore the region a bit while enjoying the colors of the fall and the flavored air in the woods.

The weekend was great and although I had no intention of going on a timber frame sightseeing trip we encountered several interesting timber framed buildings. I have to admit that very few of them really adhere to my personal taste in traditional architecture. Nonetheless I liked how they contributed to the character and atmosphere of the places we visited. It is lovely to be surrounded by these buildings and to imagine the craftsmen who built them. What was going trough their minds while building these houses, we can only guess. There were many interesting regional structural details that I would have loved to investigate closer.

Aesthetic taste aside here are some worth sharing. I will leave it up to you to come up with some more comments.

This little building was the first I noticed when driving into La Petite-Pierre. it’s crookedness was undeniable.

La Petite-Pierre crooked

Note the dovetail connection with the wallplate. You could say the building is suffering from some minor structural ‘issues’.

dovetail to wallplate

Judging from the old castle of La Petite Pierre and some of the townhouses surrounding it I am sure that it’s builders were very competent at their craft.

Returning home we drove trough PetersBach and noticed this beautiful timber frame which is for sale by the way. I liked the way the bracing was done and had not seen this style before.


Petersbach timberframe

The jettied covered walkway is just one feature which makes this house pretty attractive. In France they are referred to as encorbellement.

Petersbach covered walkway

On our way down south we drove trough Germany where we spent the night to break up the journey. Our host told us about a place called Bernkastel Keus that supposedly would have some beautiful wooden houses. That’s all he needed to say to trigger my curiosity about the place so we stopped there on our way home to my great pleasure.

Bernkastel-Keuse is a quite an astonishing place on the banks of the Mosell in between the grape fields, the heart of Germanys wine country. The market place is impressive to say at least, you are surrounded by all these timber frames with elaborate bracings. I certainly didn’t know where to look first.

Bernkastel market

You turn around and you see this.

Bernkastel corner

Or this..


Many of them where seriously out of plumb. Gravity had partnered with time pushing them slowly over to one side. It all added up to the fairytale atmosphere.


The cutest little house is neatly tucked away in a rather dark corner of the market place. Appropriately called ‘Spitzhauzen’ anno 1416.


Also this house is leaning to the left and in reality much more then this picture illustrates. The cantilevered beams that carry the jetty protrude twice as much to one side, unequally dividing the weight of the upper story and roof. Very charming but I am sure that even after 600 years it is still moving and one day it may kiss the building across the street…