Paris is a city of many wonderful architectural styles and one of the typical exterior window treatments used here is folding shutters. Shutters come in many styles and we have Parisienne shutters on our apartment building. They hark back to Haussmann-era buildings from the mid-late 1800s (no, the Baron and I are not related).
Most of our apartment’s “windows” are floor-to-ceiling, multi-glass pane doors. These doors do not lend themselves to window screens, which are rare here. Interior window treatments, i.e curtains or Venetian blinds, are also rare. So external shutters are used to provide privacy.
Shutters as a window covering are an ancient idea, and I find myself kind of marveling at how well these “primitive”, simple mechanisms work even today.
On our building, the exterior shutters consist of two three-fold panels, hinged in such a way that they can fold flat onto each other. They’re just wide enough that, when opened and folded, they can tuck into the sides of the window casement.
When closed, the shutters use a simple but effective mechanism to lock the panels into the window casement at the top and bottom. Slots in the shutter panels allow air circulation while maintaining privacy when closed.
The downside of these shutters is that they’re steel and you can pinch your finger when you’re closing them if you’re not careful. They also look like they’re quite a maintenance chore when it comes to periodically cleaning and repainting them.
But they do work and they lend a distinct appearance to Paris buildings of a certain age. It’s all part of the charm.
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