Just got back from a trip up the Saone River in France (NE region,
Burgundy, Lorraine, etc.). Along the river we passed several lumber yards.
Almost all of the wood stacked outside drying was either logs flat-sawn and
stacked in sawn order or stacks of wane-edged wood. We saw very little
dimensional lumber and not much softwood. I guess the dearth of softwood
makes sense because there really wasn't much softwood growing. Most of the
forest stands were mixed hardwoods with an occasional pine tree, and then a
few pine stands as we got further north.
My questions are about how the French buy their wood. Do they buy wane-
edged lumber in general and rip it to width as needed on site? Was this
wood for general construction, or destined for some higher-end
purpose, like furniture? Or maybe was this wood destined for wine barrels?
I couldn't tell if the lumber was predominantly white oak, but there was a
lot of it growing, so I assume at least some of the sliced logs were white
oak. There was practically zero wood-frame construction in the region,
most houses either being very old or made to look very old, with much
stone, cement, and stucco walls, with tile roofs. What wood framing we
could see in the occasional house under repair was usually very old and
appeared to be either hand-hewn or small-diameter logs used whole, with
some occasional recycled wood, especially for large beams. So was any of
the wood we saw destined for framing?
Thanks in advance for your information.
As you say, largely hardwoods in France, but some areas specialize in
soft (eg Landes, Vosges). Again as you mention, wood-framing accounts
for only about 5% of housing in France (some regions like Alsace have
a tradition of half-timbering, similar to Germany), the usual material
is stone or brick.
Hard to tell about intended use. You can buy anything from wany-edged
flatsawn to 4-square quartersawn from lumberyards and construction
suppliers, but framing is very unlikely to have been the main purpose.
What you saw may well have been destined for large-scale solid-wood
furnituremaking, common in France (some of the automated lines will
turn out finished cope and stick doors from rough planks with no human
involvement at all). Oak is traditionally one of the main species used
in most regions other than the mountains.
The wood for wine barrels is usually stacked in a special kind of cube
shape, with the planks already four-squared roughly at the staves'
finished size. The coopers are supplied by specialized lumberyards.
Professionals in building and decorating tend to buy squared lumber,
from building suppliers. But as you noticed, they don't use all that
much of it (except for roofing, of course). Large beams can still be
bought quite easily, but the massive ones that are so common in old
farmhouses (I saw one just two days ago that was about 2 feet square
and 20 long) are now hard to find, as the great era of planting
hardwood was the 17th century, and it tailed off later. Again, oak
traditionally, but douglas fir and pine now very common in roofing.
I guess most of what I saw was destined for furniture or some similar use,
as it was whole logs stickered as cut. We were in Bourgogne, Franche-
Comte, and Lorraine.
Since you seem to be in France, what the hell is all that corn for? I
didn't eat anything with corn in it, so is it for all those cows we ran
across? And what about all those sunflowers?
I assume you mean "corn" in the US sense (maize in UK usage). In
Burgundy and points east, the answer is indeed that it will be used as
animal feed (cows, pigs and poultry - a lot of poultry farming in the
east of France). Sweet corn is also farmed in France, but almost only
in the south west.
Sunflower is used either for animal feed or for oil.
If you've justgot back, you've probably been unlucky with the weather
- it's been of the wettest Augusts in recent years.
HomeOwnersHub.com is a website for homeowners and building and maintenance pros. It is not affiliated with any of the manufacturers or service providers discussed here.
All logos and trade names are the property of their respective owners.