In 2017, a tourist snapped a photo of an ancient house in Aveyron, France, known for its unusual stacked appearance. This weathered old house quickly captivated internet audiences. Amateur historians soon asserted that this dwelling, dubbed the “Maison de Jeanne,” might be the oldest house in France. However, in recent years, officials from Aveyron have debunked this claim. While Maison de Jeanne, constructed in 1478, stands as one of the oldest houses in Aveyron, there are other contenders like the Maison Romane in Cluny, believed to be nearly a millennium old.
Maison de Jeanne might not hold the title of the oldest house in France, but its historical significance is undeniable. The house is named after an artist who once resided there. Its architecture is notable: a smaller lower level surmounted by a conspicuously larger top level. This design trend emerged in the late 1400s when taxation was based solely on the footprint of a house’s ground floor.
Historical records suggest that feed troughs once existed in Maison de Jeanne’s cellar. This implies that the home’s earliest inhabitants lived alongside livestock, a prevalent practice during the 15th century. When tax assessors came by, they were often met by the likes of cows, sheep, and chickens.
The house underwent a thorough renovation in 2018 and now welcomes visitors in July and August. Although the exterior post-renovation presents a fresher and more contemporary look, the distinctive top-heavy design remains preserved. A visit to Maison de Jeanne offers a glimpse into a time 300 years before the French Revolution.