ses combles (maison)

Language Hound

Senior Member
American English
While watching a report on energy-conserving renovations, I heard: Il a isolé ses combles.
From the context, I understood that the person had insulated his attic.
Both the WR dictionary and Collins confirmed my understanding.
As this was the first time I had ever heard "les combles" used for an attic,
I am wondering if there is any difference in meaning between "les combles" and "le grenier," the term I have always used,
or can I use them interchangeably when I am referring to an attic?

Thank you for clarifying this for me. :)
  • Itisi

    Senior Member
    English UK/French
    "B. − P. ext. Partie la plus haute d'une maison, située immédiatement sous les combles, servant le plus souvent de débarras ou de logement."

    Ce qui est au sommet d'une construction.
    1. ARCHIT., gén. au plur. Assemblage de pièces de bois ou de fer situé au-dessus d'un édifice pour supporter la couverture.

    Perhaps 'combles' is closer to 'loft', and 'grenier' to 'attic'...? Not sure...


    Senior Member
    British English
    En gros, I think a "grenier" is called "combles" when the roofspace in a house is too small or low to be deemed useful for storage or conversion into extra living space.
    For me, il a isolé ses combles = he insulated his roofspace.


    Senior Member
    français - France
    Il y a les combles perdus ( impropres à un usage de logement) et les combles aménageables dont la hauteur permet un espace habitable .


    Senior Member
    "Les combles" is a technical term used by architects and building contractors to describe the space under the roof : "les combles de la cathédrale".

    In a house, they can be "perdus", meaning that they are not high enough to make any use of them, or "aménageables" meaning that they can be transformed into one or several rooms.

    "Le grenier" is the common term used to indicate the space, whatever its height, above the last floor where unused objects are stored.
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