Sunday, July 1, 2012

Southern France

After more than a week without wifi, we're finally connected again!  We left Northern France on Wednesday and drove to Beziers in the Languedoc region near the Spanish border.  Harrison, the third Hunt boy just finished his senior year of high school in this city and had an amazing experience.  We were thrilled to meet up with him.  One of his host families lives in a chateau on a vineyard with fifty-something peacocks roaming the property.  The family was gracious enough to serve us all lunch on the veranda.

Harrison with his host family at Chateau Coujan
Harrison with his 94-year-old host grandmother

Here are some highlights of the things we've found the past week.

Saturday, June 23, 2012

The English Channel

La Manche, a department in Normandy on the English Channel, is where one of our favorite bed and breakfasts is situated.  Apart from staying in a stunning 15th century manor house and eating quite possibly the best breakfast in France, we absolutely adore the couple who runs the place -- they're both charming and outspoken and they have become great friends over the years. 

During our excursions today, we ran across at 1937 Fiat Simca.  This classic Italian car still runs beautifully and would turn quite a few heads back home.

Here are a few other finds of the day…

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Tootling around Normandy

We are tootling around rural Normandy this week.  Famous for its unique half timbered architecture and its regional drink called calvados, a distilled apple brandy, this region is a favorite at French Metro Antiques. 

One little gem is Honfleur.  This picturesque Norman port town possesses a je ne sais quoi that makes it irresistible. The changing light on the Seine estuary inspired Courbet, Monet, Boudin and many others. Today dozens of galleries and artists' studios continue to display a wide choice of classical and modern paintings.     And of course the seafood or fruits de mer is delicious.

Another hidden spot is Martainville-Epreville, a suburb of Rouen, and the town where Flaubert’s Madame Bovary languished.  It houses the Martainville castle and an excellent museum on Norman Popular Arts and Traditions where you can find a beautiful collection of antique Norman furniture.  Each region of France has its own distinct style of furniture, and Normandy is no exception.

Elaborate carving is a distinctive feature of Norman furniture pieces, especially in the region's most representative piece, the armoire. Themes of love and prosperity were widely used in the 18th and 19th centuries with hearts, arrows, and lovebirds conveying the former, while cornucopia, grapes, wheat sheaves, and flowers symbolized the latter. Other typical designs included acanthus leaves, geometric patterns, farm implements, musical instruments, and anchors.  Here are few Normandy pieces currently in our shop.

Surprisingly, only a few of the pieces we’ve found so far in this region are typical of Normandy…

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Chateau de Maintenon

On our way out of Chartres, we stopped through the village of Maintenon where Louis XIV’s favorite mistress lived (remember the story about Madame de Maintenon and the shape of a champagne coupe?).  Her charming abode here is situated on a canal that runs through the town. 

We rummaged our way through a few attics and barns over the past two days…

We are quite pleased with our finds…

The find of the day yesterday was an eighteenth century hand tooled copper jardini√®re from a chateau -- an absolutely exceptional piece!  With its hand forged iron pedestal, the hand tooled copper vessel, decorated on all four sides, includes the coat of arms of the castle from which it came.