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An Afternoon in Cotignac

Dear Diva Readers,

An Afternoon in Cotignac Fountain

What antique lover hasn’t dreamed of hunting for treasures in Provence? The gorgeous landscape, the French lifestyle, the tiny villages dotting the hillsides, and lots of small shops and brocantes tucked away just waiting to be discovered…sounds like Antiques Diva Heaven! One of the idyllic villages we take clients to when they’re on an Antiques Diva Provence Tour is Cotignac. Nestled on a hillside, the village of Cotignac in the Var is surrounded by majestic cliffs which have played host to the town for centuries, and have provided shelter and refuge to humans for millennia. The Provencal village is the ideal place to take a stroll, admiring the charming architecture, quaint shops, and intoxicating blend of colors, both on the buildings and in nature.

An Afternoon in Cotignac Provence rooftops

An Afternoon in Cotignac Mountain view

Driving up to the village is part of the pleasure of visiting this enchanting place. Most of the surrounding area is “zone vert” or green zone, meaning it’s protected for its natural beauty. As you weave your way through the road on the hill, you get a nice view of the village, which dates back to Roman times. Much of what must have attracted the Romans to this area still remains unchanged— the sunny climate, the excellent soil perfect for growing vines, and the picturesque views of the French countryside. But there is one more thing that attracts a Diva like me, and that is…antiques of course!

An Afternoon in Cotignac Pedestrian Road

After parking the car, the first place to head to is the raised pedestrian road in the middle of the town called the Cours Gambetta. Line with large Plane trees which cast their shadows over the stone streets, this bustling little street is where you can often find locals perched on a bench, watching passersby or admiring the fountain which no doubt has seen thousands of people make a wish.

An Afternoon in Cotignac House Clearing

An Afternoon in Cotignac Antiques Shop

For an antique lover, the first thing to do after grabbing a quick coffee is to hit some of the local shops. Our Diva Guide knows exactly which off the beaten path places to take you to, where you’ll find an eclectic mix of the best inventory. One of the shops we often take clients to is called MODES. Rounding a corner at the top of one of the hills, you’ll see antiques spilling out into the square from a tiny door which faces the hillside. Each piece at MODES is a work of art, and although it’s a small shop, it certainly has big style! Original works of art, vintage furniture, fine antiques, and Italian marble sculptures are all curated by the shops stylish owners, John and Simon.

An Afternoon in Cotignac Modes Small Antiques Shop

An Afternoon in Cotignac Antiques and Vintage Pieces

Upon entering their treasure chest filled with antiques and vintage pieces, you’ll find there is a story behind each item they have. In fact, their home—which has been featured in several international shelter magazines– is just a short walk away, and is filled with even more antiques, all of which are quite special. And the view from this house on the hill is absolutely spectacular!

An Afternoon in Cotignac small passage

After weaving your way between the tables that spill onto the pavement from restaurants and cafes, you may find yourself in the mood for a nice meal al fresco. The popular Cafe du Cours is certainly Diva worthy, as there is a view of the main pedestrian road, along with a nice breeze coming from the valley– and the food is divine! After lunch, Stop into several other shops which dot the hill, offering everything from perfectly packable souvenirs to mid-century modern to antique artwork.

An Afternoon in Cotignac packable souvenirs mid century and modern

An Afternoon in Cotignac Chandelier

If you happen to be there on market day (Tuesday mornings until noon), you’ll find the village square is transformed into a colorful array of stalls filled with all kinds of French goodies! Whether you want to buy some homemade cheeses, local honey, ceramics, or baskets, the market is a lively place to spend an afternoon. Complete your glimpse into the French village life by sitting at a cafe with a coffee and people watching. You won’t be sorry!

An Afternoon in Cotignac French Village

If you would like information on our Antiques Diva Provence Tours, where we can incorporate a day in Cotignac for you, email us at info@antiquesdiva.com.

Au revoir,

The Antiques Diva®

Antique Oyster Sticks

Dear Diva Readers,

Part of the fun of taking clients on tour is that so many of them have such creative minds!My Diva Guides and I love to see what attracts each client’s eye and hear what they plan to do with their purchases. Recently on tour, a client purchased antique French oyster sticks. You may not be familiar with these, so I wanted to share a bit of history on them and also show you some ways they can be repurposed!

Originally these wooden oyster sticks were used by oyster farmers in the South of France to raise oysters. Exposure to the elements gave the sticks a rustic weathered patina while the spots where the oysters would attach gave the sticks several indentions.

Today, this once strictly utilitarian item can be repurposed in many decorative ways! Simply standing them up on iron mounts elevates them as sculptural elements in a modern space.

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Or have them made into lamps for a beach house.

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How about creating a unique mirror?

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Or use them as a fresh take on a classically shaped chandelier.

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Simply hung on a wall, they act as 3D art pieces.

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Who would have thought that something so simple as oyster sticks could be used in so many ways? I’d love for you to share with me what other ways you could see them being used! Leave me a comment!

Until next time,

The Antiques Diva®

Antiques Diva Podcast: From Poubelle to Puce: The Origins of the Paris Flea Market

 Eugène Poubelle: thanks to he and his amies efforts - “les puce de Paris”, the famed French flea markets, were born.Dear Diva Readers,

In the annals of famous French men, Eugène Poubelle gets a seriously bum rap, having been all but forgotten by the sands of time. The innovative, forward-thinking of one man led to the clean-up of the city of light, and in today’s Antiques Diva Podcast I’ll tell you how inadvertently – thanks to he and his amies efforts – “les puce de Paris”, the famed French flea markets, were born.

 

Eugène Poubelle is the Poubelle of poubelle fame and trash containers wouldn’t be called poubelle in French if it weren’t for his contribution. This is the man who introduced the dust bin to Paris, and inadvertently, thanks to his efforts, les puces de Paris—the famed French flea markets—were born… the chiffoniers had began to see the benefit of the Parisians sorting their trash and instead of openly working during daylight hours they stole through the city by moonlight, picking the best of the bundles. The next day they would return to their post at the Porte de Clignancourt and the Porte de Vanves and Montreuil where they set up shop in makeshift shanty towns, selling the bric-a-brac they had found the night before.

While the goods for sale were intriguing, there was one flaw to the plan: often the goods for sale were infested with fleas, leading the Parisians to call an outing to the markets at the edge of town as going to “the fleas,” hence les puces de Paris.” Thanks to Monsieur Poubelle et ses amis the Marché aux Puces de Paris/St-Ouen flea market was born and today each weekend you still find flea markets at these same city gates. The rest is history. Rumor has it, the Paris Flea Market now boasts more visitors per year than the Eiffel Tower.

To read the entire article on the origins of the Paris Flea Market as published in the Bonjour Paris Newsletter, read “From Poubelle to Puce”.

Until next time,

The Antiques Diva™

June Open Door Dates – Dutch Dates

Dear Diva Readers,

Get ready, get set, mark your calendars – some of my favorite Dutch antique dealers are opening their doors for special fetes this June and you’re invited to shop your heart out diva-style all around Amsterdam!

June 4 – 6 June and 11-13 June from 12-8pm

Join Johan de Feijter for his special theme “Viva La France” at his shop Chambre des Amies! While I’ve written frequently about de Feijters sensational shop, I recently discovered that he’s also been in Travel+Leisure magazine and I simply have to share what T+L had to say about Chambre des Amies:

Owner Johan de Feijter founded Chambre d’Amis by accident. “I used to fill my house with things I’d find at flea and Belgium,” he says. “A few years ago there was an art fair in my neighborhood, and someone asked if she could show her paintings in my house. As they walked through, people kept asking to buy my things, and I thought, Maybe I should go into business.” These days, in his front room, kitchen, and courtyard garden, you’ll find all the flea-market treasures you’ve been too impatient to hunt for — vintage mercury-glass bowls ($190) and candlesticks ($125), creamy ceramic French, Belgian, and Dutch tableware from the 1800’s, turn-of-the-century photographs. Since the exquisitely edited store is a sideline for de Feijter (he’s a sexologist), he keeps eccentric hours — usually Thursday through Saturday, noon to six.

Chambre d’Amis
58 Bloemgracht
Amsterdam
By appt +31-20 623 6204.
June 4-6, 2010 from 11am – 6pm

Next up, is another all-time Amsterdam favorite – Brederode Kunst & Antiek – ran by the effervescent Annette Brederode in her own home! When you arrive at the address Lijnbaansgracht 56 D in Amsterdam’s Jordaan you might think I’ve lead you astray for you’ll find yourself standing in front of an apartment building rather than a typical antique shop. Never fear, ring the buzzer marked Brederode and mount the stairs to step into a typical French brocante! You must click around my blog to read more about this sensational shop and to see more pics of the type of inventory Brederode specializes in! I guarantee you won’t be disappointed!

Brederode Kunst Antiek
Lijnbaansgracht 56D
Amsterdam
By appt + 31 20 6236 236

June 12-13, 19-20 from 11am-19:00

Speaking of things guaranteed to impress, I can’t gush enough about Robert Schreuder AntiquairRobert hosts a fascinating collection of antiques that are not only of special artistic or art-historical value but also very decorative, gracing modern as well as classical interiors. One of his specialties is Grand Tour souvenirs, with their echoes of the journeys of travelers from the 18th & 19th C. Meanwhile his collection of library accessories is down-right diva worthy dotted with a variety of writing boxes, inkwells and paperweights. Throw in tea caddies and tea boxes, sewing boxes, specially shaped thermometers and miniature portraits as well as an interesting period perfect collection of furniture and you might never want to leave chez lui! Join Robert’s Open Door Days June 12 & 13 and June 19 & 20 from 11am – 7pm or make an appointment to view his collection!

Robert Schreduer Antiquair
Ceintuurbaan 368
Amsterdam
By Appt + 31 6 2428 9550

Happy Shopping!

The Antiques Diva

One Minute Diva: Easter Flea Market in Paris

Easter Flea Market in ParisIf you’re looking for something to do in Paris on Monday, April 5 when the rest of the city is closed for the Easter holiday, the vendors at the Place d’ Aligre have provided a flea market outing to fill the shopping gap. This is the 4th year running that this brocante has been held on the Place d’Aligre – a square more known for its lively North African-influenced market each weekday (except Monday), selling everything from old gramophone players to odd bits of crockery alongside fromageries and charcuteries.
Easter Flea Market in ParisAs the neighborhood can be a tad rough I wouldn’t recommend wearing your best Easter dress to this locale… instead dress casual and as always when attending flea markets, watch for pick-pockets in the crowds when scoring big-time bargains on bric-a-bracs, antiques and collectibles!

When: Monday, April 5 2010

Time: 8am-6pm

Where: Place d’Aligre near Metro: Ledru-Rollin

What: 100 vendors selling antiques, collectibles and bric-a-brac

Bonne Shopping!

The Antiques Diva ™

Guest Blog: Souvenirs de la Reine: Charmed, I’m Sure

Dear Diva Readers,

The brains and beauty behind my favorite blog to be born in 2009 – She’s Shopping Now – is back Guest Blogging on The Antiques Diva™ site, sharing more tips in her series “Souvenirs de la Reine”.

In case you missed her past guest appearances writing on this topic, make sure to read:

Part 1: Guest Blog: Souvenirs de la Reine: The Beach
Part 2: Guest Blog: Souvenirs de la Reine: le porte-cigarettes

Keep Shopping & Keep Making Memories,
The Antiques Diva™

(seen right making memories while shopping with La Reine at NYC’s GreenFlea)

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Dear Diva Readers,

The past few months everyone has been wearing long, swingy, charm necklaces. You’ve seen them: crystals dangling, sparkly keys glittering, little hearts and suitcases tinkling. I’ve priced them: they’re either scary expensive or so cheap and plasticky I’d never wear them. So I’ve created my own charm necklaces and found a way to re-live mes souvenirs.

A while back I shared with the Antiques Diva the gorgeous vintage platinum necklace sprinkled with diamonds (only $100!) that I scored at the Merchandise Mart Antiques Show in Chicago. And recently, on a visit to Omaha, I rifled through a tangle of discounted jewelry piled in an ashtray at le Marche and found a very long simple 1930’s gold chain.

Now I simply had to style them up – Diva Style!

When I moved away from Paris, my friend Rebecca of Chic Shopping Paris gifted me a pair of dangling earrings she made from antique Baccarat crystals she had found at brocantes. Sadly, in one of many moves I lost one of the earrings (actually it’s the movers fault – they lost one!) Et voila! The lone earring now swings enticingly from the platinum neck chain.

After leaving Paris we moved on to Copenhagen. When we moved on once again, this time returning to the USA, left in my coat pockets were handfuls of Danish kroner, useful for buying a paper or coffee when I was out walking my dog Mignette. Several of the kroner have holes in the center (they come that way: I didn’t have to drill). Brilliant! 3 kroner now dangle from my gold neck chain reminding me of the years I lived in Denmark as an expat.

The ideas are endless!

What about the silver quatrefoil key to the door of my beautiful apartment in Paris? The giant Baccarat crystal I found at a Paris brocante? The ivory Chinese good luck charm I bought at an antique shop in Singapore? A seashell picked up on the beach in Sanibel? The fleur-de-lys and tassel earrings I picked up at The Greenflea in NYC?

I can easily swap out one souvenir for another. These souvenirs are no longer hidden in my drawers and tucked away in my memories. They’re displayed, talked about, and loved. And best of all, they make me look fabulous. Some things can’t be bought. Like memories.

Until Next Time,
La Reine
(otherwise known as “Moi” on the She’s Shopping Now blog)

Can’t get enough of these great ideas of La Reine’s? Visit her blog for more fun posts like this one! And while you’re at it, follow her travels on Twitter!

Special Antiques Diva Paris Tour!

SPECIAL ANTIQUES DIVA TOUR!
La Foire Nationale à la Brocante et aux Jambons on the île de Chatou!

Join The Antiques Diva™ this March 2010 in Paris on a 4-Day Spring French Flea Market Extravaganza!!! We’ll hit the Paris Flea Markets (Clignancourt & Vanves) as well as the best brocante in France – la Foire Nationale à la Brocante et aux Jambons on the île de Chatou! Your high-school French didn’t lead you astray, indeed this is the National Fair of the Flea Market and Ham, a fair which has been going on annually in Paris since the Middle Ages!

After we’ve shoppped until you drop, The Diva will revive you with champagne or café au lait – you name your poison – and we’ll leave the flea markets behind, stepping into Hemingway’s Paris, hitting a bar named after him and parading through the Ritz as if it were built for us alone. In fact, we’ll don an apron and pick up golden spatulas, taking an afternoon French cooking lesson at the Ritz Escoffier – dining afterwards in the Ritz’ kitchen! For an additional charge, you can leave “les miserables” behind while enjoying pampering in Paris at a Posh, Private Day Spa Atelier with a Diva-tested, Diva-approved English speaking skin care and massage specialist.

Well-rested and looking our best, arm-in-arm we’ll stroll past the famous Parisian sites and do a little vintage and clothes shopping in Saint-Germain-des-Prés! We’ll visit the hottest shops, the best boutiques, the obvious and the out-of-the-way in The Antiques Diva’s private Paris, sharing memories and making new ones!

Diva Tour Details!

Tour 1: 12-15 March, 2010

Tour 2: 18-21 March, 2010

Also inquire for tour dates in May, October and November 2010

4-Day Paris Tour costs 1000 Euro per person *

* Discounts apply on multi-person group booking.
Hotel and Airfare are not included in tour cost; however, The Antiques Diva Tours can make hotel recommendations and suggestions on the best areas of the city to stay!

Some photos from Fall 2009 Diva Tour trips to the National Fair of the Flea Market and Ham:

Pictures of The Antiques Diva’s™ Headquarters

The Antiques Diva’s™ Home Office


A modern conference table (à la IKEA) juxtaposes against the gilt and gold of the Baroque Lord and Lady chairs at opposite ends of the brainstorming table. The gold and black striped curtains were made by The Diva’s Dear Old Mum; the candlesticks are brass turn-of-the-century Polish picked up in Gdansk.

The set of yellow silk chairs (opposite the settee) were my first purchase when I moved to Europe. The English Tea Table constantly stands at the ready with a bottle of champange set for serving. Taking a look at this pic makes me realize that I need to do a little “tidying up” before the next photo shoot of my home!

The yellow silk French berger’s from another angle. These were purchased at France’s famed La Foire Nationale à la Brocante et aux Jambon

The black laquered Napoleon III side table was purchased in Provence. It’s accented with an English Barley Twist Candlestick converted into a lamp (a gift from my Papa Bear & Step Mom, purchased in Sherman, Texas at The Taste of Home Antique Mall). Table accents include accent pieces from The Wine Guy’s fountain pen collection.

The Waterford Crystal clock on side table was a present from dear friend Jessica Fischer in Cleveland before The Wine Guy and I moved abroad. The fox fur stole is my winter collar draped casually over the back of the chair. Believe it or not, my mom, sister and I bought this stole while shopping at a vintage shop in Oklahoma City. The silk pillow shams were picked up at misc boutiques, including Hotel Adlon’s Lifestyle Shop.

The Dutch Baroque set of turquoise and gilt chairs once belonged to the famous Dutch TV celebrity Mies Bouwman (otherwise known as the Oprah of Holland – host of a talk show on Dutch TV for over 25 years.) They graced the stage of her set for a season of episodes and appeared on several Dutch programs and most recently were featured on stage for the Margriet Winter Fair.

Did I mention the painting is an Antiques Diva original inspired by a visit to London’s Tate Modern? When I’m not blogging, giving antique shopping tours or touring Europe, I try my hand at oil painting!

The lamp in the corner is a tribute to The Diva’s favorite vintage decade – the 1960’s! While the Art Deco statue (top right) is one of many at home Chez Diva.

Last but not least, before bidding adieu, I’ll give you a sneak peak from the living room into the Home Office – a preview of another room for another day!

Until Next Time, Tschüss!

The Antiques Diva™

Seen right with The Wine Guy at Schloss Sanssouci in Potsdam, Germany

Meanwhile: Chacun à son goût on Thanksgiving

Dear Diva Readers,

In honor of Thanksgiving today, I’m re-posting my favorite tongue-in-cheek article on Thanksgiving, written by Art Buchwald, explaining this very American holiday to his French readers.

This column first appeared in the International Herald Tribune many, many Thanksgivings ago! Each year, the IHT reprints his article, much to the delight of readers everywhere!

Happy Thanksgiving! Bonne “Jour de Merci Donnant”!

The Antiques Diva™

The Turkey Growers Association has approved this message.

One of our most important American holidays is Thanksgiving Day, known in France as le Jour de Merci Donnant.

Le Jour de Merci Donnant was first started by a group of Pilgrims (Pèlerins) who fled from l’Angleterre before the McCarran Act to found a colony in the New World (le Nouveau Monde) where they could shoot Indians (les Peaux-Rouges) and eat turkey (dinde) to their heart’s content.

They landed at a place called Plymouth (now a famous voiture Américaine) in a wooden sailing ship called the Mayflower (or Fleur de Mai) in 1620. But while the Pèlerins were killing the dindes, the Peaux-Rouges were killing the Pèlerins, and there were several hard winters ahead for both of them. The only way the Peaux- Rouges helped the Pèlerins was when they taught them to grow corn (maïs). The reason they did this was because they liked corn with their Pèlerins.

In 1623, after another harsh year, the Pèlerins’ crops were so good that they decided to have a celebration and give thanks because more maïs was raised by the Pèlerins than Pèlerins were killed by Peaux-Rouges.

Every year on the Jour de Merci Donnant, parents tell their children an amusing story about the first celebration.

It concerns a brave capitaine named Miles Standish (known in France as Kilomètres Deboutish) and a young, shy lieutenant named Jean Alden. Both of them were in love with a flower of Plymouth called Priscilla Mullens (no translation). The vieux capitaine said to the jeune lieutenant:
“Go to the damsel Priscilla (allez très vite chez Priscilla), the loveliest maiden of Plymouth (la plus jolie demoiselle de Plymouth). Say that a blunt old captain, a man not of words but of action (un vieux Fanfan la Tulipe), offers his hand and his heart, the hand and heart of a soldier. Not in these words, you know, but this, in short, is my meaning.”

“I am a maker of war (je suis un fabricant de la guerre) and not a maker of phrases. You, bred as a scholar (vous, qui êtes pain comme un étudiant), can say it in elegant language, such as you read in your books of the pleadings and wooings of lovers, such as you think best adapted to win the heart of the maiden.”

Although Jean was fit to be tied (convenable à être emballé), friendship prevailed over love and he went to his duty. But instead of using elegant language, he blurted out his mission. Priscilla was muted with amazement and sorrow (rendue muette par l’étonnement et la tristesse).

At length she exclaimed, interrupting the ominous silence: “If the great captain of Plymouth is so very eager to wed me, why does he not come himself and take the trouble to woo me?” (Où est-il, le vieux Kilomètres? Pourquoi ne vient-il pas auprès de moi pour tenter sa chance?)

Jean said that Kilomètres Deboutish was very busy and didn’t have time for those things. He staggered on, telling what a wonderful husband Kilomètres would make. Finally Priscilla arched her eyebrows and said in a tremulous voice, “Why don’t you speak for yourself, Jean?” (Chacun à son goût.)

And so, on the fourth Thursday in November, American families sit down at a large table brimming with tasty dishes, and for the only time during the year eat better than the French do.
No one can deny that le Jour de Merci Donnant is a grande fête and no matter how well fed American families are, they never forget to give thanks to Kilomètres Deboutish, who made this great day possible.

Art Buchwald. This column first appeared in the IHT many, many Thanksgivings ago.

Guest Blog: Lady Lotus – Are You Next on the Jewelry Chain?

Dear Antiques Diva,

Dangling from my wrist these days is an amazing bracelet made from Euro coins. The gold and silver match everything and the piece is curious enough to evoke conversation, most of which start out by me proclaiming that the best part of living in an American university town is being surrounded by amazing local artists. One of my favorite designers, Danya Roselle, is the artist who crafted my new favorite piece.

She normally provides the Euros, but in my case I gave her the ones I wanted because my husband and I had great fun picking them out on our recent trip to Paris. In the end, I settled on a 2 Euro France, flanked by 1 Euro Germany and Italy. The silver swirly bits are Danya’s own making and the bracelet was specifically crafted to fit my wrist. And all this for only $81. I normally wear the “back” side up so that I can see the country designs instead of the numbers, but it looks lovely both ways. And I also turn a deaf ear to anyone who mentions that defacing money is probably frowned upon … a benefit of living in the US is that hardly anyone knows what foreign money looks like!

When La Reine saw my bracelet, she immediately ordered one of her own. Are you next on the jewelry chain??

Happy Shopping!

Lady Lotus

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