In medieval times France was ruled by feudal lords and
most ordinary people had pretty grim lives. The lived,
ate and slept together in one large room, which was
often cold and damp, and shared with their animals.
What furniture there was had to be practical: large
simple benches, stools and chests, made of heavy oak
to discourage thieves. Cloth or tapestries insulated
cold walls and there was always a hearth fire; light
was provided by torches or primitive lamps. There may
have been a recess or bower containing a bed and chest.
Lords’ castles didn’t fare much better,
just great hall trestle tables and rough benches. These
contrasted with the seigneurial chair, which sometimes
had a gilded canopy.
The chest (also called a bahut, coffre or huche) was
very important, as it was used to contain valuables,
whether linen, jewels, arms, grain or salt. Designed
to be moved from place to place, they were used as a
seat by day, bed by night (with cushions) and as tables.
Early furniture followed the lines of architecture.
Few pieces were carved, just those crafted to show off
wealth or for special occasions, such as for a dowry.
Carving reflected that of churches and cathedrals.
Towards the end of the Middle Ages decoration featured
more on chests and chairs. Architecture was going through
the Gothic stage and furniture reflected this. Carving
became heavier and more complex, featuring animals and
grotesque heads. Beds were enclosed (lit clos), often
with carved or latticed walls. The cupboard was introduced,
also often decorated.
Gothic architecture was at its best in the 13th and
14th centuries, turning to Flamboyant Gothic in the
15th century. The transition between Gothic and Renaissance
occurred in this latter period.
The Renaissance brought a whole new attitude to the
arts. Renaissance actually means "revival",
and refers more to a spirit of individuality than a
particular style. It started in Italy, reaching its
height in the 15th century. After the French seized
Milan under Louis XII and saw the city’s magnificent
court, they took home Italian ideas and craftsmen.
The French Renaissance came into its own in 1515, when
Frances I took the throne. A patron of the arts, he
invited Andrea del Sarto and Leonardo da Vinci to France.
By the early 16th century French designers were producing
important work and in 1550 Jacques Androuet Ducerceau
published a series of influential furniture designs.
Gothic art was firmly rooted in France, so the Renaissance
style took a while to filter through. Gothic and Renaissance
designs were often placed side by side, in panels and
French ornamental woodwork tended to be lighter and
more delicate than the Italian style, with more floral
forms. After various Greek and Roman antiquities were
unearthed, interest was sparked in the classicism of
the past. French craftsmen created furniture with deeply
carved ornate designs. They copied the symmetrical appearance
of classic architecture – buffets and cabinets
resembled small buildings with columns, balustrades,
windows and panels, reminiscent of Roman and Greek temples
and colosseums. Furniture often featured ornamentation
inspired by Michelangelo and Raphael, or depicted mythological
or biblical themes.
In general furniture was becoming lighter and new items
were introduced. Tables took on finer lines and perhaps
carving, cabinets and chests of drawers replaced chests
and cupboards, and clocks, mirrors and screens became
Renaissance palaces were really luxurious, with carved
or gilded woodwork panels and ornate tapestries and
The time and effort spent by medieval craftsmen on chests
was now transferred to the cabinets of the Renaissance
– these offered more scope for artistic work than
beds, chairs or tables.
Oak was mainly used, but woods such as walnut were also
introduced. Although plentiful in France walnut is not
easily carved, so panelling and marquetry featured.
The Renaissance reached its height during the reign
of Henri II – the Henri II era lasted about 75
years. Furniture was large and solid, square or rectangular.
Pieces were well carved or sculpted, sometimes with
barley, twisted or fluted columns. Chair legs were straight,
often turned, and sometimes cushions were tied on to
seats. Cabinets had an architectural style. Henri’s
marriage to Catherine de Medici continued the Italian
By Henri IV’s reign, however, furniture decoration
had become rather superfluous.
When Henri IV was assassinated in 1610, his successor
Louis XIII was too young to rule so Marie de Medici
and later Cardinals Richelieu and Mazarin became Regents.
Marie de Medici invited Rubens to Paris bringing a Flemish
influence, but he had studied in Italy and there were
still many Italian craftsmen in France, so the Italian
Louis XIII furniture featured massive, solid construction
with geometric carving. Furniture design was more opulent
than during the Renaissance.
Cherubs, scrolls, fruit, flowers and foliage were common
decorative themes. Lathe-turning and moulding techniques
also influenced appearance.
The emerging middle class fuelled the demand for furniture.
For the first time people expected furniture to be comfortable
as well as beautiful, and fixed upholstery was one of
the great inventions of this period. Leather, tapestries
and fine fabrics were nailed directly to the chair’s
wooden framework; seats and backs were padded.
The principal pieces of furniture included tall cupboards,
full dressers, cabinets and buffets with carved doors
and mouldings. Ebony was a commonly used carving material.
The Os de Mouton chair is the most notable example of
the era, with legs shaped like those of a lamb. The
lit-de-repose or chaise longue was also introduced,
a "chair" about six feet long, with or without
arms, with a mattress and bolster. Beds were very important
as ladies often held receptions in their bedrooms –
the king and queen gave audiences to their subjects
while in bed. Beds had canopies and curtains, and were
covered with tapestries, silk, satin, velvet, embroidery
Cabinets and presses were large, sometimes divided into
two. Tables were carved and gilded, often ornamented
with bronze and copper. The cartouche was much used
(a kind of nameplate consisting of hieroglyphic symbols
enclosed in a loop). When rectangles were used, they
were always broader than they were high. Carved and
gilded mirrors were introduced by the Italians, as were
sconces and chandeliers. It was the time of great opulence.
Many middle class people wanted nice furniture but didn’t
live in Paris, hence the French country look began.
Rustic pieces reflected city styles, but were made for
a more relaxed rural life, such as the trestle table
with thick plateau top and graceful legs.
Louis XIV – the Sun King – ruled from 1643
to 1715, the longest reign of any European monarch.
Also known as ‘Le Grand Monarque’, he proposed
absolute monarchy and declared himself the Church and
the State. His ideal was splendour, and he imposed his
will and taste on France, encouraging great men of the
intellectual and arts worlds. The Palace of Versailles
is a testament to his love of the arts and luxury. The
aristocracy mirrored the king’s excesses. The
Louis XIV style is also called baroque.
Louis and his government set up the ‘Manufacture
des meubles de la Couronne’, known as ‘Manufacture
des Gobelins’. Artists of all kinds were given
apartments in the Louvre, with departments dedicated
to decorative arts such as architecture, cabinet making,
tapestry, painting, jewellery and gardens, to furnish
the royal palaces. The king’s maître ébéniste
(chief cabinetmaker), André Charles Boulle, developed
marquetry juxtaposing veneers of ebony, brass, tortoiseshell,
ivory, pewter and mother of pearl, a technique to which
he gave his name. His beautiful cabinets, commodes,
tables and clocks are not almost priceless. The majority
of Boulle work that has survived was actually made in
Victorian times or later.
Charles Lebrun is another notable furniture designer
of the time.
New designs included the bureau plat (writing table)
and finely ornamented commode (chest of drawers) which
became one of the most important furniture types of
the 18th century. The mid-17th century also saw the
introduction of the ‘cabinet-on-stand’ throughout
Louis’s palaces provided a social setting suited
to the extravagant lifestyle of the nobility. The finest
materials were used and furniture is characterised by
intricate marquetry, elaborate carving, gilding, inlaying,
lacquer, gold leaf decorations of scalloped shells,
lions’ heads, dolphins, laurels and, of course,
the sun and its rays. Tapestries were equally elaborate.
Chairs and settees were richly coloured and upholstered.
French court furniture was built for grandeur rather
than comfort. Only the king was allowed to sit in a
fauteuil (armchair) so stools and benches covered in
velvet, damask, gold brocade and embroidered silk were
All aspects of a room were designed to complement each
other. Gobelin tapestries made in Paris and carpets
from Aubusson and Beauvais added splendour. Ceilings
and walls were adorned with frescoes or carved and gilded
woodwork and panelling called boiseries. Everything
had to be beautiful, right down to the window-locks
After the Trianon de Porcelaine at Versailles was built
for one of Louis XIV’s mistresses, there was an
increasing fascination with the Far East. Demand for
all things Asian – from silk screens to lacquered
cabinets – soon outstripped supply, so French
craftsmen copied these pieces adding flourishes of their
own. This created the foundation for the style known
Women were becoming more important and a definite femine
influence can bee seen in the Louis XIV furniture style,
although this only reached full expression in the later
reign of Louis XV.
The Louise XIV era was the foundation of the styles
that flowed. Indeed, many people look on the periods
of Louis XIV, the Regency, Louise XV and Louis XVI as
one great period with variations.
When Louis XIV died in 1715, his five year old great-grandson,
whose parents and brother had passed away, became Louise
XV. As he was too young to take the throne, his uncle
Philippe, the Duke of Orleans, was appointed Regent
until the king attained legal majority in 1723. The
transitional period between the opulent baroque period
and less formal rococo era of Louis XV became known
as French Regence (or Regency).
Offended by the pageantry of Versailles, the duke moved
the royal court to Paris where courtiers lived in less
extraveant hotel particuliers or private residences.
He employed architect and decorator Gilles Marie Oppenord
and cabinetmaker Charles Cressent on the interiors of
the Palais Royal, his Paris residence. They created
the Regence style.
Intimate petit salons introduced an era of lighter,
more graceful furniture. Craftsmen moved away from the
rigid classical styling imposed on them by Louis XIV.
Asymmetrical curved lines replaced symmetrical straight
lines. Where they retained their symmetry they became
more fluid. Plain wood veneer replaced boulle marquetry.
Inspiration was taken from mythological themes and the
Orient, flowers, shells and dragons.
The cabriole leg made its debut in sofas and chairs
of the period, as well as on armoires, bookcases and
writing desks. Chairs were narrower with deeper seats,
and cane was introduced. Master cabinetmakers developed
the commode, and with its curved chest and plump sides,
the ‘bombe’, or convex commode, appeared.
Foliage and delicate bouquets wrapped with ribbons and
bows adorned the upper sections of armoires. Beautiful
wall panelling with curved corners also became a hallmark
of the Regence era.
The Regence pointed the way for the gentler rococo period
(1730 to 1760) when Louis XV and his official mistress
(maitresse en titre) Jeanne-Antoinette Poisson, Madame
de Pompadour, influenced the decorative arts.
Furniture was becoming more ornately decorated and daintier,
more feminine and graceful. Rosewood and fruit woods
replaced darker woods. Whereas the baroque style favoured
symmetry, rococo embraced the asymmetry born in the
Extravagant wood veneers and marquetry featured, along
with carved metal ornament and gilt bronze. Wood was
often painted, enamelled, gilded and carved. Lacquers
were important, especially oriental lacquers and anything
done by the Martin brothers.
The rococo style featured love, humour, music and nature-inspired
motifs and themes, including shells, rocks, fish, waves,
birds, foliage, vines, flowers, seaweed, rocks and serpents,
plus farming motifs like corn and wheat. Ribbons with
streamers and hearts were also fashionable. This showy
look worked well in the grand rooms for which it was
Regarded by many as the Golden Age of French furniture
Louis XV’s reign was a time of peace and prosperity.
The Siecle des Lumieres (Age of Enlightenment) embraced
intellectual salons and debate. Women became more powerful
and their influence was felt in court and in furniture
Although public reception rooms were still grand, family
apartments were less formal and strong colours were
replaced with the pastels favoured by Madame de Pompadour.
Furniture was comfortable as well as stylish.
Louis XV sought inviting chairs and furniture arrangements
suited to conversation. The King’s menuisier (chairmaker),
Jean-Baptiste Tilliard, made a low, curved armchair
with an exposed wood frame, far lighter and less regal
looking than earlier chairs. A basket of flowers was
carved on the seat rail, and shells and scrolls on the
back, showing the chair was meant to be moved about
for impromptu use (rather than to be pushed up against
Parisian chairmakers adopted Tilliards bergere chair
designs. Frames were sometimes gilded or painted. Upholstered
arms were moved back from the length of the seat to
avoid crushing fashionable crinolines. Rich damasks
and velvets were favoured for upholstery, along with
Gobelin, Aubusson and Beauvais tapestry. Cane chairs
with loose seat cushions were popular too.
By the second quarter of the century, Parisian homes
had crystal chandeliers, and marble mantels with large
mirror panels or painted overmantels called trumeaus.
Wood floors were arranged in marquetry or parquet patterns,
then laid with Aubusson or Savonnerie rugs.
New pieces to emerge during this period included the
fauteuil (armchair), bergere (easy chair), secretaire-a-abattant
(fall-front writing desk), table-a-ecrire (writing table),
and bureau-a-cylindre (cylinder-top desk).
Noted furniture designers included Charles Cressent,
Bernard Vanrisamburgh, Jean-Baptiste Tilliard and Nicolas
Towards the end of the Louis XV period, furniture became
perhaps too decadently rococo, with curves everywhere,
no symmetry and lavish decoration.
to 15th centuries
1515 – 1560
1560 – 1643
1643 – 1715
1715 – 1723
1723 – 1774
1774 – 1792
1793 – 1804
1804 – 1814
1814 – 1830
1830 – 1848
1848 – 1870
1870 – 1890
1890 – 1920
1920 – 1940
Restoration and Charles
CENTURY BY CENTURY
10th – 15th Centuries
During the Middle Ages furniture was functional
and practical, confined to a few pieces such as
table, benches, stools and beds. Carving showed
wealth or was used for dowry pieces. This period
covers the Romanesque and Gothic eras.
Although Gothic styles continued into the 16th
century, the influence of the Italian Renaissance
was soon felt in France. Furniture became less
heavy, more comfortable and more decorated. Renaissance
palaces were particularly ornamental.
A time of exploration and discovery, as well as
religious and political unrest. New wealth changed
the style and manner of living. During the first
part of the century furniture design was dominated
by the elegance of the Renaissance, but gradually
changed to the baroque, a massive ornate style
originating in Italy. Barque reached its height
in France under Louise XIV. For the first time
people expected furniture to be comfortable, as
well as beautiful.
The golden age of cabinetmaking, reflecting the
elaborate social customs of the day. Industrial
development, international trade and the migration
of craftsmen created prosperity and an exchange
of idea. Furniture was influenced by the Orient.
Foreign material, especially mahogany, played
an important role in the first half of the century,
while the discovery of Pompeii and the use of
satinwood influenced design in the second half.
New pieces and designs appeared. Styles were set
in France, migrated to England and then America.
There was a particular liking for small tables
and cabinets, commodes, and large writing tables.
Furniture styles changed from the massive ornate
baroque of Louise XIV to the delicate decorated
rococo of Louis XV, then to the neo-classicism
of Louis XVI and Directoire.
A time of decorative conflict. A wave of classicism
was inspired by the discovery of the ruins of
Pompeii and social unrest at the end of the 18th
century. Expression as found in the Louis XV,
Directoire and Empire styles. While cabinetmakers
exploited new industrialised techniques, they
maintained a fascination with the past. Design
elements were borrowed from ancient Egypt, Greece
and Rome. A renewed interest in the Middle Ages
led to Gothic details. Renaissance forms were
also admired, and cabinetmakers made enormous
walnut buffets. 18th century styles were also
thrown into the pot – it was an eclectic
Modern materials and technology changed traditional
construction methods, with the emphasis on the
functional. Wood was still the most popular material,
but glass, metal and plastics were also used.
Beauty was provided by structure and materials,
rather than surface ornamentation. Furniture was
scaled to modern houses and apartments. An interest
in traditional styles led to antique collecting
and also ‘antiquing’ and reproduction
Rococo began to be considered frivolous and a classical
revival was inspired by the discovery of Pompeii in 1748
– the resulting style became known as neo-classicism
or the classical revival. Designers also looked back to
the more architectural furniture of the Louis XIV period.
This period marked the return of straight lines, symmetry,
leaf or bead mouldings, and classical ornamentation. Simple
construction and design characterise Louise XVI furniture.
Straight lines replaced flowing scrolls, horizontal bands
took the place of ornate mouldings, and rectangular spaces
with classic emblems replaced cupid and rose-garlanded
Natural world motifs survived, but they existed alongside
more geometric shapes. Intricate marquetry and floral
designs were banded by geometrical trims and surrounded
by oval or round medallions.
Motifs included rosettes, garlands, festoons, urns, lyre,
oak, laurel and bay leaves, as well as the eagle, dolphin
and ram’s head.
Mahogany was imported and used for fine furniture. Gilding,
inlay and enamel were still used, but an increasing taste
or luxury led to new decorative finishes. The fanciest
pieces were japanned or incorporated panels of Japanese
or Chinese lacquer, while others were mounted with decorative
panels from the royal porcelain factory at Sevres.
Corners of tables and cabinets were square instead of
rounded, legs were straight, tapered and fluted rather
than cabriole. Seat frames with ribbon twist mouldings
were introduced. Commodes and bookcases took on more angular
During this period marchands-merciers came to the fore.
This elite group of dealers supplied furniture and decorative
objects to the rich, exerting considerable influence on
their design. Members included Lazare Duvaux, Dominuqe
Daquerre and Jean-Henri Oeben.
There was increasing informality in domestic life and
feminine proportions were still popular. Writing desks
wre important, including ladies’ desks (bureaux-en-pente),
and the secretaire-a-abattant came into its own against
the backdrop of neo-classicism. Small portable tales (tables-a-milieu)
were another innovation.
Some say this period absorbed all the good qualities
none of the bad from the Louis XV style.
This style of French furniture takes its name from one
of the elected groups that held office following the French
Revolution and executive of Louis XVI in 1789.
It represented a break away from the lavish royal styles
of the past. Designs were more subdued and themes of antiquity
and nature featured less. Marquetry was replaced by more
austere decoration. Geometric patterns were less extravagant,
often incorporating a Grecian urn in the design. The caryatid
form was also used (a sculpted female figure used as an
ornamental support). Many of the themes of the simpler
late Louis XVI furniture continued.
Identifying characteristics include arabesque and Etruscan
motifs such as animals, sea lions, eagles, serpents, and
stylised palm leaves. Motifs were also influenced by the
Revolution (wreaths, torches, and other warlike emblems).
The privations of war led to a decline in furniture quality;
brass was often used for mounts instead of gilt-bronze,
Commodes were plain, often with paw feet, mahogany dining
tables were no longer hidden under cloth and chair legs
were turned and tapered, but not fluted. Openwork chair
backs with scroll-shaped rails were also coming into fashion.
Furniture designers included Jacques Louis David, a painter
who designed sofas and chairs based on Greek vases, and
Georges Jacob, the royal chairmaker.
In 1804 Napoleon Bonaparte crowned himself emperor, ending
years of political instability. The Empire period dawned.
The economy was booming and a new haute bourgeois aristocracy
Empire furniture is typically sombre and architectural.
It is generally large, decorated with brass and ormolu
and upholstered with heavy brocade or embroidered fabrics.
Bold symmetrical designs replaced ornate carvings and
rounded romantic shapes. Designs were often defined by
architectural elements such as columns and pilasters.
Mahogany, rosewood and ebony were used, and marble tops
Napoleon’s Egyptian campaign led to Egyptian motifs
being used for the first time, such as sphinxes. Napoleonic
symbols appeared too, especially the emperor’s monogram,
the initial N, and his emblem, the bee. Empire artists
were also inspired by the ancient Greco-Roman period.
Decorative elements included laurel wreaths, swans, winged
chimeras, griffins, urns and eagles. Motifs were often
cast in bronze and applied to austere, symmetrical shapes.
Marquetry was discarded in favour of plain surfaces covered
by massive carving. Faux marble, wood grain and bronze
finishes were fashionable. In its plainer form the Empire
style was dignified and beautiful.
Seat furniture became stiffer with rectangular backs,
and front legs were either turned as balusters or were
of square section. Towards the end of the era armchairs
acquired scrolled arms and simple scrolled front legs.
Mahogany was popular, sometimes decorated with black and
gold paint and striped fabrics. However, the naval blockade
imposed by the Allies in the Napoleonic Wars later led
to the adoption of native timbers such as maple. The Jacob
family was the leading furniture manufacturer during this
The early 19th century is reckoned by many to have been
the last great period in French furniture making.
Napoleon’s love of empire and conquest led to
his downfall. He abdicated in 1814 following heavy military
losses and defeat. The French restored the monarchy,
reinstating Charles X.
The royalty and aristocracy wanted to return to their
previous luxurious lifestyle. This marked a return to
delicate, rounded forms, and fine decoration in furniture.
Napoleon’s downfall coincided with the Industrial
Revolution, and new processes in furniture-making. At
the same time the middle class was on the rise, reflecting
growing prosperity and providing an increasing demand
The massive forms and geometric styling of Empire furniture
continued, but the harsh contours became softer and
a whimsical touch was added. Decorative motifs included
musical instruments, rosettes, garlands, swans and cornucopia.
Light coloured woods (bois clair) such as maple, ash
and elm were often used instead of, or with, mahogany.
Dark wood inlays were set into light-coloured wood.
Marquetry returned, with detailing that highlighted
the architecture and geometry of the furniture.
By 1830 Charles X had fallen from favour and was overthrown
during three days of fighting known as Les Trois Glorieuses.
Louis Phillipe, Duke of Orleans, became France’s
new leader. He managed both royalists to his right and
radicals to the left, while sympathising with the bourgeois
Until now furniture had been sold piece by piece. The
Industrial Revolution brought new production processes,
and craftsmen began to make furniture sets for the bedroom
and dining room.
Furniture continued the simple, rounded lines of the
Restoration, but with more restrained ornamentation.
The style combined the best of past designs from the
Gothic, Renaissance, Louis XIII and Louis XIV periods.
Furniture became more functional to suit the lifestyle
of the bourgeois class. Dark woods, such as mahogany
and walnut were used, and tables and commodes often
had marble tops.
This refers to the period in which Louis Napoleon, Bonaparte’s
nephew, declared himself emperor as Napoleon III. An
eclectic mix of styles were inspired by the past 500
years. Often several styles were used for one piece.
Furniture was characterised by more whimsical shapes
and the return of painted wood and mother of pearl.
Dark woods were used, also papier-mache, cast iron and
ivory inlay. Chests of drawers on tall, thin legs were
common. Identical reproductions of past pieces were
common too. Modernisation of mechanical processes enabled
more technical precision.The Revival
This period saw yet more borrowing from past styles,
including Gothic, Renaissance, Regence, Louis XIV, Louis
XV and Louis XVI. There was a move away from skilled
handmade pieces to furniture created by mechanical process.
Furniture was mass produced and affordable. Styles and
processes from other countries were more accessible
too. Leading manufacturers included Bastet, Krieger,
Mercier Freres, and Somani.
From around 1890 to 1920 the Art Nouveau movement was
expressed in a range of art forms from furniture, architecture
and interior design to posters, glass, pottery, textiles
and book illustration.
Although named after Maison de l’Art Nouveau,
a Parisian shop opened in 1896 by art dealer Siegfried
Bing, this style had its roots in the Arts and Crafts
movement in England, which revived handmade crafts.
Flowing curved lines, plant forms, asymmetrical shapes
reminiscent of the Rococo period, as well as elements
of fantasy are typical. Motifs were taken from sources
as varied as Japanese prints, Gothic architecture and
the symbolic paintings of English poet and artist William
Blake, creating a highly decorative style with fantastical
elements. Tiffany lamps illustrate Art Nouveau’s
ornate flowing lines.
The most common furniture was dining and bedroom pieces,
with chairs displaying the widest range of the style’s
Art Nouveau was also used for interior design, for example
at Maxim’s Restaurant in Paris. Leading designers
included Emile Galle, Louis Marjorelle, Eugene Gaillard,
Hector Guimard and Gustave Serrurier-Bovy.
Art Deco simplified the elaborate Nouveau style. Although
the movement started round about 1910, the term Art
Deco was only used in 1925 at the Paris design exhibition,
Exposition Internationale des Arts Decoratifs et Industriels
Forms were elegant and sophisticated, characterised
by bold geometric designs. Designers experimented with
exotic woods and new finishes and materials including
metals, mother-of-pearl, ivory, wrought iron, unusual
wood veneers, lacquers and plastics. Inspiration was
taken from geometric forms, as well as motifs from ancient
Egypt and the Empire and Louise XVI periods. Designers
included Jacques-Emile Ruhimann, Louis Sue and Rene
As products became more mass-produced, the style became
more geometrica and linear. The US took over from France
as the spiritual centre of the movement. Art Deco declined
after 1935, but has enjoyed a revival since the 1960s.
This enduring style refers not to a historical period,
but to a way of life. It draws from many eras, including
Louis XV, Louis SVI, Regence, Directorie and Louis Phillipe,
and represents relaxed country living. Designs are found
in the country homes of Normandy, Provence and Bordeaux.
Typical of Country French are large farm tables with
ladderback chairs, carved oak huches, sideboards and
armoires in various finishes.
While this article covers the general characteristics
of each era, there was much overlapping of styles. Developed
first in Paris, furniture designs filtered through to
the regions, sometimes not arriving until 50 years later.
The provinces had their own styles too – for example
Alsace favoured ornately painted furniture.
Furniture design was also influenced by climate, the
types of wood available locally, economic factors and
cultural influences. However, the ‘centralism’
practised by the monarchy and continued under the Republic,
along with the influence of the Parisian court, mean
a number of common features left their mark on regional
furniture over the past few centuries.
Regardless of whether you’re looking for fine
antiques, rustic pieces or bargain secondhand furniture,
you’ll be spoilt for choice in France.