The Provincial Charm of French Reclaimed Terra Cotta Tiles

by Emmi Micallef October 06, 2016

French reclaimed terra cotta tile hexagons

French reclaimed terra cotta tiles have a history and authenticity that few floors can match.  Over 150 years ago, these tiles were hand made by digging up natural French clay deposits from the ground where artisans would then slap the clay into hand made wooden molds.  After a period of drying time, these green ware tiles were extracted from the molds and placed in rows after rows to dry under the sun. From there, they were stacked inside large wood-burning kilns and fired to over 1100 degrees Celsius for a minimum of three days, while the artisans kept careful watch 24 hours/day on the flame, adding more fuel as needed.  The kilns were understood to vary in degrees of heat - hotter near the bottom and cooler near the top.  The result of this was that each fired tile would have a spectacular color range, as intriguing and prized today as 150 years ago.  Salvaged from old farmhouses, or mas - today these tiles continue their story - re-purposed or reclaimed clay floor tiles that have many stories to tell.

French Reclaimed Terra Cotta Tile Parefeuille

How lucky we were to find this prized French reclaimed terra cotta tile parefeuille from our last container!  The artisan who inscribed this date knew the quality of his craft and that one day, it would be re-purposed for another use.  It shows the authenticity of the workmanship that went into creating these tiles.

French Reclaimed Terra Cotta Tile Hexagons

The love of a hexagon - bringing an architectural interest to a floor with color variation due to the difference of the kiln's firing internal temperatures.  The lighter color terra cotta tiles were placed in the hotter areas within the wood-burning kilns, where as the darker red hexagons were positioned in less hot areas of the kilns.

Cuisine de Monet Blue and White Decorative Wall Tile and French Reclaimed Terra Cotta Tile Hexagons

Pairing a blue and white decorative tile with French Reclaimed terra cotta tiles brings forth 17th - 19th century French and Dutch interior design...that can be authentically recreated from Historic Decorative Materials.

Cuisine de Monet Blue and White Decorative Wall Tile with French Reclaimed Terra Cotta Tile Parefeuille

The classic fleur-de-lys motif in our Cuisine de Monet Collection pairs elegantly with the French reclaimed terra cotta tile parefeuille.

Blue and White Dutch Delft Tiles with French Reclaimed Terra Cotta Tiles

These Delft tile ships, belonging to our Dutch 17th Century Antiqued Delft Tile Collection, reminds us of life in Amsterdam when new trade routes and voyages of discovery were happening profusely on uncharted seas.  Classically partnered with the French reclaimed terra cotta square tiles...historical accuracy and beauty creates a lovely ambiance for one's home.

The classic terra cotta tile formats from this time period were the square, the hexagon or the rectangle - which in French is called une parefeuille.  The parefeuille 150 years ago was not used for flooring - but for ceiling tiles - installed between wooden rafters.  The patina from a French reclaimed terra cotta tile square and hexagon is foot worn and prized.  The patina from the parefeuille is still prized - for the fired clay is averaging 150 years old and holds history and authenticity of the French provincial life. 

French Reclaimed Terra Cotta Tile Parfeuille

One can see how well the parefeuille marries with darker elements in a kitchen, creating contrast of lights and darks that is appealing to the eye.

French reclaimed terra cotta tile parefeuille kitchen installation.

And finally, as when lives with reclaimed terra cotta tiles, it's wonderful to know that it's patina darkens and enriches due to a new family's foot worn paths.  

I hope you enjoyed this blog.  Thank you for your time.

Emmi Micallef, co-owner Historic Decorative Materials, a division of Pavé Tile, Wood & Stone, Inc.

Emmi Micallef
Emmi Micallef


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