With a French house you have to remember that the windows open inwards, so you can’t put bedsteads or bedside tables with lamps on them under a window if you’re short of space in a small room.  And shutters (volets) open outwards from the inside so you always need space on the outside wall for them to be folded back.  At the moment our shutters are a pale powder blue which is a very traditional look.  I really like the colour but as we are in the process of extending, we will need to add new shutters and I suspect it may be difficult to match this lovely sun bleached pale blue colour.


This colour blue has an interesting history to it.  In fact the pale blue dye comes from a flower called Isatis Tinctoria.  Sometimes know as Glastum or dyer’s woad.


Woad is an ancient color. An historic natural dye. The blue dye is contained within the green leaves, which when broken down reveal pigments of blue. A range of blues, dependant on the method, the plant and the soil.  I have read that the colour echoes the blues of the sky.  The word “Woad” is of Anglo-Saxon origin: wad. The use of dyer’s woad dates back to Egyptian times.  In 17th-century France, woad pastel came to mean the plant,  the pigment, the dye, and also the blue drawing sticks, that were made through a complicated process of pulping, fermenting, drying and crushing.

It was this pastel blue that made Toulouse wealthy.  Trade in pastel enabled  the merchants of Toulouse to become very rich. The mansion of pastellier Pierre d’Assézat,

a merchant who made a fortune in the woad business houses the Fondation Bemberg  private art collection.  It is open to the public and includes many French artworks from the nineteenth and twentieth Centuries.

If you want to find out more about this historic dye you can visit France and partake in one of the dyeing workshops, for example, there is one I found in the South West of France at Chateau Dumas.  There you can learn the history of woad, dye fabrics and stay in fabulous surroundings.

So, what is the best colour for shutters? This question made me look at the colours of the shutters in our village.  Some are stained wood or even unstained wood.  We have some bright green, red and even purple coloured ones as well as the more traditional pale grey and pale blue.

Some of the shutters in our village.

Another question is do shutters have to be a specific colour dependent on the area of France that you are in. I do have a French acquaintance who renovated a chateau and was required to use a burgundy red colour for her shutters.  However, I cannot find any real details on this question other than they should be in keeping with the rest of the building and similar properties in your region. It seems to be when in doubt consult your Mairie.

I am still undecided but really fancy going for a pale creamy grey green colour.  Just trying to cover all bases.  Of course this will be very similar in colour to the crepis but still look very stylish.

What do you think?????

Bastide Provencale - heaven:

Lafourcade Isn't this gorgeous? Check out the website of these home builders/restorers for other extraordinary homes in Provence.:


17 thoughts on “Volets

    • Yes it’s the traditional option I suppose and it also means I don’t need to paint all the shutters. Just a matter of getting a reasonable match. I quite like the paint peeling, sun damaged look. And I don’t mean me:)


  1. I have been on the horns of this particular dilemma for xxxx years now, and I keep changing my mind. Right now I am thinking of cream and we may have our render painted terre cuite as typical Roussillon colour and


      • It is a very rich, dark terracotta leaning toward rust rather than pinky shades . To me it looks like old terracotta plant pots. The great advantage is that , like old pots, it will weather and age beautifully in the sun and rain.
        Its generally teamed with cream or pale green/grey shutters.
        Both look stunning

        Liked by 1 person

  2. A Bueish grey would always be my colour of choice. W have dark green shutters and although they are not my favourite they are the most common colour in the village ad neighbouring villages and on the nearby Île de Ré all the shutters have to be dark green. We keep talking about changing them but it will be a mammoth job, so I think it will probably wait another couple of years!


    • Would love to see the Ile de Re. I wonder why the shutters are all dark green? quite somber. I agree, I prefer lighter colours. Our neighbour re-painted all her front shutters a grey and then changed her mind and went for a slightly greeny grey. It’s such a big job.


  3. I like the blue, looks more French.
    The in-laws of my friend in Holland had a large house in France and they painted the shutters Red and white with a diamond pattern which was the pattern from Heeze in Nord Brabant in the Netherlands – they were “ordered” to repaint them – not compatible!!


  4. What a fabulous post! I knew about shutter colours (now living here) but not in depth or really the why. Thanks! (Me, I vote for your favourite. You can always repaint in 5 – 10 years time to something totally different.)


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