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Sunday, June 16, 2013

Why We Love Restaurant Porcelain

What is it about restaurant or hotel porcelain that makes us love it?  Is it the ties to a historic place?  Does it remind us of somewhere we’ve been?


For me it’s the typography and images associated with a certain place.  I like to image the  travelers who enjoyed it and what stories the piece could tell.

I love large accessories, but sometimes I fall in love with the smallest of morsels such as this mini porcelain tray I found in Paris while shopping the Vanves market.

I was draw to its simplistic beauty and the oh-so French blue and white scheme.

Le Train Bleu is an ornately decorated restaurant located in the Gare de Lyon train station in Paris.  It has been in operation since 1901 and renamed Le Train Bleu in 1963 after the famous train of the same name.



It is located on the second floor.  I did not eat at the main restaurant!  Nope.  Do you see the signs for L’Express Bleu below?  This is where I had lunch while waiting on the train to Avignon.   I didn’t realize it’s history at the time.  They say ignorance is bliss.  For me, it’s la vie en rose (loosely translated, “looking at life through rose-colored glasses”).  I totally believe in serendipity.

(the 3 previous photos I found on Google because in my state of not knowing what a famous place it was, I failed to take a single photo!)

I had no idea I would find a vintage treasure from this restaurant a week later!  This prompted a little Google research! lol


It is made by the famous French porcelain maker Pillivuyt and dates to the late 1960s according to the dealer.  Pillivuyt still makes fine porcelains today and you can purchase some of their whiteware at Williams Sonoma.


I just listed this exclusive restaurant piece in my Etsy shop HERE.  With it’s diminutive size of only 4” X 2 3/4” I’m not sure of it’s original use.  Some pieces were solely for restaurant use and some where manufactured as marketing/advertising pieces.


What a neat little piece of Paris history.

Restaurant and hotel accoutrements have been popular for some time now. 

What tempts you along these lines? Do you have a particular collection such as hotel silver?

Please hop over to Cat’s blog Sunday Brocantes HERE and read the latest news on the Blogger’s Brocanting Tour coming up this September.



Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Adding French Country Accessories To Your Kitchen

It’s no secret today what a French Country kitchen looks like.  You don’t have to look any further than Pinterest, Houzz, interior design trade magazines, etc. plus special interest publications from BH&G and most of our personal bookshelves containing works by Charles Faudree and Betty Lou Phillips amongst others.


Let’s face it….French Country is HOT again!  The reason?  It’s warm and inviting with a  comfortable lived-in elegance.  It’s never stuffy or pretentious.   Basically it says, “Come on in”.



These are some images that I snapped at the famous La Mirande hotel in Avignon.  This incredible historic basement kitchen is where we had our cooking class and contained tons of French cooking essentials.  More on the cooking class in a later post!



It was hard for me to focus on the class with all the great “stuff” around.  I couldn’t keep my eyes from roaming.

But even if you don’t have a French Country style kitchen, you can add French flair with just a few accessories.



When I was shopping at the brocantes,  I was drawn to the myriad of kitchen items.  What I love about the French is their ease in décor and importance placed on everyday objects.  They elevate useful items into something beautiful and decorative in their own right.



I’ve just added some awesome French kitchen accessories to my Etsy and Ruby Lane shops.  If you get a chance, check them out HERE and HERE.

Just a few touches can speak volumes.  And I love the stories they have to tell.

Like this set of pre-WWI BAKELITE NAPKIN RINGS.  They are numbered 5-10 and were probably used in a religious school or orphanage where each child had their assigned number.


And here is the French dealer that I purchased them from in Avignon.  We were actually on our way to the market to buy fresh ingredients for our cooking class when low and behold there was an unexpected  pop-up brocante in the town center.  Of course, I didn’t have food on my mind after that!


Yep, that’s me…wheelin’ and dealin’ in the best French that I could muster!  Do you see the napkin rings on the table?  I had walked away twice and had to come back. 


Two days later I saw this same dealer in a market in St. Remy.  Of course, we recognized each other and she actually gave me a hug!   (probably because she felt sorry for me for my bad attempt at speaking French with a hillbilly accent….but I think she was happy I tried!)

She had a couple more things I was interested in like this roll of vintage Soleiado Provençal fabric trim,  but we couldn’t strike a deal!  She was one tough cookie!


Do you love baskets as much as I do?  Check out this great smaller-sized CHERRY BASKET.  I know you’ve seen this shape for apple baskets.



Need something “egg/chicken” related?  I gotcha covered!




I found a wire egg basket, wire egg holder, pair of cobalt egg cups, and a whimsical chocolate mold featuring roosters, no doubt!

The large CUTTING/BREAD BOARD is one of my favorite finds at L’Isle Sur la Sorgue. Unused and made of a single piece of oak, it came from a boulangerie that was closing and dates to the 1950s.



I ended up with a good selection of café au lait bowls and I’ll be listing more in the next couple weeks.  The hard part?  I’m finding it difficult to part with these things because I love all of it!



BTW…if you’re wondering about French Country kitchens and need a review of the big picture, here are some elements to consider:

Incoporate furniture pieces such as plate racks and vasseliers

Utilize upper cabinet space for open shelving

Marble top bistro and patisserie tables are killer items

Dress the windows in linen

Bring the outdoors in with flowers and herbs

Signature materials…wicker, zinc, and copper for sure!

Say it with words—anything typography

Villa photos below:


Of course, it’s a La Cornue!


I’ve got my mind set on finding a smaller version of this butcher’s table.


My next obsession: Patisserie and butcher’s tables.

Stay tuned.

Check out my French kitchen board on Pinterest HERE and my post on French pewter countertops HERE.



Thursday, June 6, 2013

French Beauty Secrets…Gwyneth Paltrow Recommends

I’m sure most of you know that Gwyneth Paltrow was recently named the world’s most beautiful woman in People magazine.  Regardless how I feel about that, I did read some of her beauty product recommendations.  I figured it would probably be beneficial if I were using the same products as her….maybe I could get the same results!

So armed with her list of French products (she says she buys these every time she’s in France or has friends pick them up for her when they go) this was my first mission when I got to Paris.

I headed straight to the Pharmacie (skincare/beauty product stores in France, not the medicinal drug store as here in the USA).

“Bonjour Madame.  Je suis à la recherche de ces produits.  Gwyneth Paltrow leur recommande”.  Then I would show the clerk my Iphone notes with the following list:

1. Klorane gentle dry shampoo with oatmilk

2. Embryolisse moisturizer/cleanser

3. Bioderma crealine h20 micelle solution

4. Avibon vitamin A

5. Alfalux baume levres

I ended up with the first three products.  I went to 3-4 different Pharmacie’s and none of them currently carried the Avibon or the Alfalux.


I must say I like all three of them.  I found out when I got home that you can purchase them on the internet, too.  So you don’t actually have to make a special trip to Paris..darn.

But what Gwyneth didn’t recommend and what several of the French women clerks said they thought was better was the skincare line by Darphin Paris.  It must be popular because everybody carried it.  I tried some samples and I was hooked.

I ordered some products when I got home…cleanser, serum, moisturizer.  I want to try the elixir next.



Hopefully I’ll look 20 years younger by the end of the summer!  Here’s to beauty routines and rituals around the world!



Monday, June 3, 2013

My Newest Décor Love…Pewter Countertops

I have fallen for pewter countertops.  I’ve always loved zinc tops, but I had overlooked the use of pewter until now.
The morning kitchen at the villa had pewter counters and tabletops.  Isn’t that table great?  Fresh croissants tasted delicious here!


Pewter has been used in French bistros and brasseries for centuries.


As you can see, it is a fairly soft metal (it’s actually an alloy of several metals) and shows nicks and dents.  It’s silvery color will change and darken over time developing a patina with a more gentle look than stainless.


It’s non-porous so it has good hygienic qualities.  I snapped this photo at a café in L’Isle Sur la Sorgue.  I really like the edge detail.


In the past if you wanted pewter countertops you had to have them fabricated in France. Now there are several US companies who manufacture them.  A couple names are Bastille Metal Works and Pewter By Design.  

Because they are not as tolerant to high heat and very hot pans can pose a risk, they are better suited for a secondary counter such as an island, butler’s pantry, or wet bar…not the workhorse countertop of the kitchen!

I found a few pictures on Houzz of kitchens that I liked with pewter utilized:

Miss these gals already!

Maybe in my next house I can use pewter counter tops somewhere!
Ahhh...still dreaming in French!


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