What to have as a kitchen floor is a question that requires some serious thought. I grew up with rush matting which wasn’t very pleasant, but gave the dogs and cats something to chew on and in. When it became too rotten and filthy to form a cohesive whole it was replaced by stiff linoleum. I remember it well because I cut my foot on a jagged piece that had curled up from the chessboard pattern. As with a lot of kitchen-design issues, practicality is foremost. Other rooms can be designed on a relatively laissez-faire basis but kitchens have a lot of considerations that need to be respected. One of these is a durable, water-resistant, easy-to-clean floor. Some sort of flagging or tiling is called for.
In Burgundy the traditional solution is the best one, both stylistically and practically. Tomettes, the red square – or occasionally hexagonal – baked tiles are one of the most prominent and memorable features of typical Burgundian dwellings. Where they have been taken out of old houses they are in big demand for renovation projects. People hunt for rare and charming examples of tiles that were trod on by dog, or cat or hen before they were baked. The paw or claw of years gone by is printed indelibly on the surface, making the mark of domestic history for those who care to look. This homely sense of place is as essential as the traditional recipes to the character of a kitchen in Burgundy. Setting them in sand, as they have always been set, is still the best way to install them. They crack easily when they are set in cement. Like all living things they need to be allowed to yield a little bit to the constant pressures of life.