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A French-Inspired Garden and Home by Judith Stringham

French Design on Friday 22

Friday, July 7, 2017


Is any castle complete without at least one turret? French design for castles through the ages is replete with turrets used as guard towers. Later, turrets appeared in smaller non-royal residences, which were still spacious by today's standards. As late as Haussmann's rebirth of Paris as a modern city begun in 1853 and continued by others through 1927, turrets were still popular architectural features no longer used for security reasons. 

Chenonceau's main building has turrets at each corner, but the most beautiful turret is the detached ancient guard tower. 

Château de Chenonceau has a free standing guard tower before the moat that leads to the entry to the castle. 

The guard tower is known as the Marques tower, named after the owner who built the turret in the fifteenth century. The larger turret has a smaller turret attached to it. Round towers provided guards with sweeping views through small windows where they could see all around the property. 

Although the Chenonceau turret was built for protection, the tower's design includes more than basic utilitarian details. Elaborate beautiful stonework surrounds the windows and the top of each of the two turrets that form the guard tower. 

The entry to the Marques tower is especially beautiful with the detailed designs around and above the door. 

Another example of a castle with turrets is the privately-owned ancient castle in Montford in the Dordogne Valley with its multiple turrets. 

A large medieval-style turret has a walled walkway at its top for greater surveillance of the surrounding countryside. An additional small turret begins halfway up the castle's side. 

In La-Roque Gageac, a small town in the Dordogne Valley, is an ancient residence dominated by its round turret. The house is built into the side of a sheer cliff providing protection all along its back side. Very likely the stairs to the upper floors are within the round tower that connects two sections of the house. 

Round turrets are also prominent features in the Paris Conciergerie and Palais de Justice that currently houses law courts. During earlier centuries the building was a royal palace, then a prison, including holding Marie Antoinette until her execution. 

Early morning light captures a beautiful reflection of the Conciergerie in the Seine River. 

Haussmann apartments in Paris offer architectural features known world-side as classic French design and include round turrets. Residents have sweeping views of Paris rooftops from their circular terraces. 

Grand French doors offer views from indoors as well as access to views from outdoors on the narrow terraces. 

In today's modern homes and businesses that include turrets, the turrets frequently contain the building's stairs instead of outposts for guards. 

Seeing Paris apartment buildings with round turrets inspires using a turret as part of a new French-designed house. Dining areas on the first floor, sitting areas on the upper floors, and terraces on the roof top are all spaces from which residents can enjoy gazing across oceans, lakes, gardens, forests, and city lights. 

Turrets may bring Victorian houses to mind in the United States, but by using stone, French doors, and wrought iron balconies, turrets can also be synonymous with classic French design. 

For photos of modern French design houses with turrets, see the following photos on my Pinterest board, French Country Design.

Viewing photos taken in France is a grand way to discover authentic French design for creating your own 

French-inspired garden and home.


  1. Judith,
    Your photo of the reflection in the Seine River is stunning. I always enjoy your French Design posts. They make me feel like I've had a quick visit to France.

  2. I'm with Eilis except these posts make me want to board a plane and go!

  3. I really enjoy these posts.

    I'm very taken with how, in older times, even very utilitarian buildings were made with such beautiful details. The stone work on that guard tower is so beautiful!

  4. Judith, another great post! I so enjoy this series. Thank you!
    Chenonceau is a favorite chateau to visit, though there are so many lovely chateaus. The turrets are a classic design which fascinate me. I love the curved room and always fascinated with the curved glass that is seen in San Francisco.

  5. Love these photos and how much there is to learn from you, Judith. Thanks for posting these French designs and gorgeous architecture!

  6. This is beyond beautiful! Thank you so much for sharing. I plan to read all of this again when I can share with my husband. Beautiful & interesting!!!

  7. Ginger,
    Seeing these photos makes me want to pack my bag today to go to France. Every place you look there is something beautiful to see and something interesting to learn.

    Hope you are surviving the summer heat in Texas,


  8. Thanks for the french architectural lesson. I knew turrets were for protection but had not thought of views being accessible all around for scenery.
    I noticed while traveling this weekend a county courthouse had two large turrets with flags draped on both turrets. It made a grand statement.

  9. Judith, the castle a Montford looks like a fairy tale castle if I ever saw one. Your photos are beautiful.



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