WHAT IS FRENCH OAK?
French Oak comes in two species, it varies from region to region, however generally consistency can be obtained by not mixing species and the age of the trees, keeping them at around 200 to 250 years old.
Timber that is processed in France is separated into four sections according to its usage:
- A-section: it’s the base of the tree and is used for barrels
- B & C-section: middle of the tree used for joinery or flooring
- D-section: used for external application, such as railway sleepers.
French oak is processed and graded using strict guidelines by FNB (National Wood Federation), which manages many of the sawmills in France, they have very clear grading rules and method for drying. Many products made with French Oak have single origin material, which guarantees consistency and the quality of the finished product.
Renaissance Parquet sources all their Oak from France, we also provide certificate of origin and country of harvest declaration, so you can be sure that you are getting what you are paying for.
SUSTAINABLY MANAGED FORESTS
Though there is no such thing as a 200 years old sustainably managed forest in Australia, in the Old World however… You may have only had the short version so far, thus, for your delight, here is the long story.
In the year of our Lord 1291, in a time when talking about Terra Australis would have taken you straight away to the hearty bone fires of the inquisition, the then French king “Philippe le Bel” created the “Administration des Eaux et Forets” (Administration of Waters and Forests), an institution that survived every hardship of the French history until 1966, when it was replaced by the ONF (National Forestry Office).
Though the first French forestry code was written in 1346, modern day management really started under Louis the 14th Prime Minister Jean Baptiste Colbert who, between 1661 and 1669 restructured all royal domain forests. The jewel in the crown was, and still is the “Tronçais” forest (pictured above), certainly the finest oak forest in Europe.
Of course in the 17th century sustainability was not such a popular topic. Readily available timber for the purpose of building warships was rather the matter, and unlike UK tapping freely into Tasmanian Huon pines for towering masts, France had to rely on local supply, therefore planning and management was the way to go. Some awesome fellows well over 200 years old are here to remind us the job was well done, the older ones planted circa 1580/1630.
Nowadays 50% of commercial French oak comes from ONF managed national or local communities forests, a mere 12 million hectares out of the whole 17 million hectares of forests representing 30% of the French territory, and still extending. Our main supplier operates under a PEFC agreement, the European equivalent of the FSC. They are based in Burgundy, oak barrels no strangers to the reputation of the local wines.
As far as oak flooring is concerned, the point we want to make is that our flooring, be it narrow or wide boards, comes from trees up to 200 years old, and this is a sustainable supply, because 200 years ago there were people out there making sure these trees would not be the lasts!
WHY CHOOSE FRENCH OAK?
- Trees from 200 to 250 years old
- Certificate of origin
- Respect of drying process
- Single origin product insuring consistency and quality