Saturday, July 2, 2011

Bon Voyage

Discover French flea market finds without ever pulling out your passport!
Tour de France 
Every summer we talk about taking a trip to the granddaddy of all flea markets, Les Puces ("The Fleas") in Paris. But so far it's just been talk! So here we were at our local antique fair, when it dawned on us just how many French collectibles we could find right here in the good old USA!

We started our virtual tour at  shabby chic booth loaded with French country antiques. Kitty found an ornate mirror with a milk-paint finish, a steal at $18. (It would have been a lot more in Euros!!) And Jennifer just had to have a weathered window with "Jardin de Paris" stenciled on it. We suspected the Garden of Paris wasn't really painted in France, but we thought it would look "ooh-la-la" hanging on a porch.

In no time, we were experts at spotting French objets d'art. We found dozens of items featuring the classic symbol of France, the fleur-de-lis, including a gilded jewelry box with a fleur-de-lis medallion on top. Another eye catcher was a row of pink and blue seltzer bottles etched in French. They cost more than $100 each, so we moved on to more affordable souvenirs. We bought French flash cards to turn into greeting cards and handmade soap from Provence. And no visit to Les Puces would be complete without a mini Eiffel Tower, which we found for just $10 each. Magnifique!
Kitchen Couture
To bring a little French flavor into your kitchen, look for vintage farmhouse finds. Copper pots are a must for that certain je ne sais quoi. Hang them over the stove along with colanders, kettles, and mousse molds. Replace regular cutting boards with wooden saucisson chopboards traditionally used for preserved meats. Add printed linens from Provence in olive, gold, and blue--reminiscent of the colorful countryside. An enamelware towel rack labeled in French is perfect for hanging utensils (who cares what the words mean!). And nothing says ooh la la like a set of coffee and sugar canisters with French labels.

Champagne Wishes 
We'd like to propose a toast to Champagne! Not only does this region of France fill our glasses with bubbly, it also fills our homes with rustic treasures. Tools once used in the champagne-making process add the kind of unique touches to a home that interior decorators dream of. A vineyard ladder makes a wonderful display for decorative quilts. And a grape harvest basket is a natural caddy for magazines or kindling.

For a dramatic statement piece, be on the lookout for an A-frame riddling rack imported from the caves of France. Riddling racks are over five-feet tall and have rows of angled holes to help in the fermentation process. A rare find like this could go for as much as $800, but if you buy it here instead of Paris, just think what you'll save on shipping!

What To Pay  
French Flash Cards $1 each 
Handmade Soap From Provence $6 
French Enamelware Towel Rack $35 to $70 
Saucisson Chopboard $40 to $60
Tablecloth from Provence $55 to $95
French Advertising Poster $100 and up
19th Century Grape Harvest Basket $145 and up
Champagne Riddling Rack $650 to $800

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