Friday, 9 September 2011

Paris decor

No need to tell you that the French are famous for design and quality. Unfortunately I'm unable to indulge in expensive French fashion, apart from the occasional Longchamp bag and Chanel No 5 perfume, but housewares are another matter. They are a relatively affordable luxury I feel I can indulge in because pots and pans, cutlery and tablecoths can give you years of practical use.

We've been collecting Mauviel cookware ever since we started going to Normandy regularly. It is manufactured in the town of Villedieu-les-Poêles, and every time we pass by we stop for another piece. It is gorgeous cookware - bright warm copper on the exterior, if you can bother to shine it, which I usually can't. But the proof of the quality is in how well it performs, and I've never used a better pot. They heat up and cool quickly, so food cooks quickly, and perhaps more importantly, stops cooking the minute you take it off the hob. Also, food doesn't stick to them, so they are really easy to clean (apart from the fiddly polishing). These pots will last a lifetime, if not longer, so they are actually quite good value for money.

7 piece set will set you back around $1,220. Buy pieces separately to reduce sticker shock!

Another of my favorite French brands is le Jacquard Français. Jacquard refers to the type of loom used to make damask, a cloth where the patterns are produced by weaving rather than printing. Le Jacquard Français produces damask tablecloths, dish towels and aprons in cotton and linen, in a range of lovely colours and patterns. They use some really bright and unusual colour combinations, which is probably why I like them so much.

The woman whose flat we were using in Paris has a fabulous collection of Jacquard Français. It turns out her mother used to design for them and got a lot of the pieces on sale at the factory outlet in Gérardmer in the Lorraine region. Perhaps we need to start visiting other parts of France than just Normandy.

A tablecloth for every occasion

I love the mustard one with Chinese designs, but unfortunately my little flat can't support such brightness, so I'm sticking to cream and grey. The last tablecloth I picked up was too big for my table (see previous blog post), and now the new one is a tiny bit too small! But I don't care, I'm using it anyway.

I've got my eye on another item for my next shopping trip in Paris - a Peugeot pepper grinder. I've gone through so many crappy pepper grinders, I think it is about time I get a good quality one. The Peugeot ones make you feel like you are in a high class French restaurant. They cost about the price of a meal in that restaurant, but unlike the meal you get to keep it forever.

classic grinder available from Richmond Cookshop

You can get Mauviel, Jacquard Français and Peugeot from Sur le Table in the US (one of my favorite cookware shops). I haven't looked in the UK - Paris is so close, you might as well take the Eurostar over for a shopping trip.