This time last year, I was planting my rooftop terrace garden in Berlin. In my new home in Venice I don’t have a terrace or balcony: but I do have large sunny windows that open on one side to the canal where I hear the musicians at the Conservatory rehearse Verdi, Puccini and Rossini and the gondoliers passing below humming Buonosera Signorina, Buonosera. Each Saturday morning I visit the Mercato di Rialto to buy fresh flowers along with my produce and vegetables. Nearby I’m lucky to have several florists with cut flowers and plants. My Venetian home may not have an outdoor space, but my home always has flowers. To me, flowers are a hallmark of gracious living. Mimi’s history of antique Provençal pots takes me back the beautiful gardens and countryside of my days living in France. I’ll be back soon…
Spring is truly here! It’s Antiques Week in Round Top, Texas, and Lolo and I (along with Cole and Louis) set up shop once again in Tent D at the Arbors. There are wonderful treasures to be found, great people to meet and see, and inspiration all around us. This is Texas Hill Country after all – and the roadsides are awash in color. All along the highways, cars can be seen pulling off the road – doors flying open and people spilling out with their phones held high like concert groupies. What in the world has everyone stopping in their tracks? It’s not antiques. It’s Flowers. Miles and miles of wildflowers. Beguiled by the bold and brilliant blooms, I can’t help but smile, and join in the laughter at the joy everyone is experiencing from the sight of people, young and old, posing and picture taking in fields and pastures of blue and red (reminiscent of the French flag!)
While these Texas bluebonnets and Indian paintbrush are beautiful signs that spring has sprung, it isn’t officially spring for me until I’m back at home and the empty planters around my pool are all planted. Nothing quite says spring like a weathered Biot jarre or an aged Anduze pot spilling over with a profusion of colorful blooms. Filled with geraniums set amongst rambling roses or climbing vines, topiary boxwoods or fragrant lavender, potted citrus or olive trees, jarres de Biot and vases d’Anduze always make an impressive display – whether in groupings or standing alone, inside or out.
These Provençal pots, considered iconic symbols of French garden decor, are an elegant yet charming addition to any garden or home. They both conjure up images of grand chateaux, manicured gardens, and the South of France.
Named for the picturesque Medieval village of Anduze in the Cévennes mountains in the South of France, the vase d’Anduze was created in 1610 by a local potter named Boisset. Drawing inspiration from Italian Medici vases he saw at a fair in Beaucaire, he created his version of the famous inverted bell-shaped pot in a flamed color with a glaze applied in green, brown, and straw hat yellow streaks. Floral garlands, a stamped medallion with the potter’s signature, and other refined decorations embellished each pot. Pots are still being made in the Languedoc-Roussillon by artisans in the same way as the old Anduze family craftsmen.
During the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, Anduze pots were only found on the estates of the wealthiest of the wealthy. And at Versailles. The vases d’Anduze became en vogue when Marie-Antoinette lined the formal gardens and terraces of Versailles (perhaps the first container garden of note) with them and decorated the Orangeries with hundreds and hundreds of the shapely glazed planters.
Designed to showcase the potted orange and lemon trees found in the gardens and orangeries of aristocrats and nobles, production of the beautiful terracotta planters dropped dramatically during the French Revolution (1789-1799) when most of the factories in Anduze closed. With only a few artisans and factories remaining, the vase d’anduze became a rare commodity – one of the reasons the crusty old 18th and 19th century pots are so coveted and expensive today! There are a limited number of original, authentic Anduze pots made, with few vestiges of the dark green glaze remaining, along with a barely legible signature.
After the Revolution, the nouveau riche silk merchants in the Anduze region (those who sold to the Lyon textile industry) began designing and creating their own private gardens and parks. They demonstrated their newly acquired wealth by purchasing the most exotic plants and trees possible, such as sequoias, shipped in from California, and bamboo from China. The really successful were able to grow the orange tree, which had at one time only been grown at Versailles. The orange trees were planted in these beautiful large (and heavy) glazed pots, as they had to winter indoors. The Anduze pots grew in popularity as more French artisans began creating the style, adding their own flourishes.
Unlike the strictly decorative Anduze pots that served no real purpose, except to bring joy and beauty to the homes and gardens of those lucky enough to afford them, the famous earthenware jarres de Biot were used to store flour, and preserve and transport olives and olive oil before they became popular as “jarres pour le jardin.”
Named after the coastal village of Biot, near Cannes in the South of France, Biot jarres are handmade, without a mold or wheel, using the ancient technique of rope thrown pottery.
Made from a mixture of red and grey clays to achieve the desired color, the jarres are distinctive for both their classic shape and for the colorful drips of glaze, known as “mother-in-laws’ tears,” that occur when the glaze of one jar drips onto another jar during the firing process.
The most unique feature of the Biot jarre, however, is the honey colored glaze at the neck of the jar that prevented insects and varmints from climbing inside the jar and into the olives or olive oil. (YUCK!)
It’s this handmade process – the rim glaze color, the “mother-in-law-tears,” and the classic shape – that make the jarres de Biot, in production since the 16th century, so special and desirable.
Thank goodness you don’t have to be Marie Antoinette or Louis Seize to enjoy the amazing variety of fruits, flowers, and veggies or shapes, colors, and fragrances that can be grown in these fabulous pots. And don’t be afraid to get your hands dirty and mix it up. Just like the French mix different styles of antiques in their homes, they often blend formal with informal and mix beauty and utility in their gardens.
I’ll be in Sweet Home Alabama soon! Sitting on the deck sipping iced tea or relaxing by the pool with a glass of chilled rosé. It won’t be long until I can enjoy the fruits of my labor. I can’t wait to start planting!
Lolo French Antiques Bergères at Home
It’s no secret I have a thing for chairs, especially French chairs. From the House of Bourbon to the House of Bonaparte, stiff and straight backed to padded and tufted, fancy fauteuils to chic chaises, I’m obsessed with French chairs. They’re so much more than just functional objects to sit on. They’re like pieces of art — colorful canvases within exquisite, hand-carved frames, some gilded, some painted, some á la capuchine. With their beautiful upholstery and regal frames, French chairs are the perfect combination of style and function. They work as well with traditional interiors as modern interiors. They bring to mind visions of king’s thrones with ladies-in-waiting, smoky gentlemen’s clubs, and memories made at holiday gatherings.
Sit up and take notice of eight of my favorite French chairs.
Thought to be the oldest existing example of European furniture, the Dagobert chair began as an “X” shaped or curule stool in the 7th century. It wasn’t until the Renaissance that backs and arms were added and heavily carved wood versions with grotesque figures appeared. The most notable example, now in the Louvre, is the alleged gilt bronze throne of King Dagobert I (603-639 AD). Though not the comfiest chair, it’s a classic French chair that can easily be incorporated into any decorating style. If it’s fit for a king, it’s fit for you. Grab the Dagobert chair when you need extra seating.
Often Seen… tucked in a corner, in pairs, in a hallway.
A Closer Look Reveals… most often dark wood, carved grotesque figures frame the back of the chair and grotesque faces are found at the ends of the arms, distinctive curule design of the base, where intersecting curves or an “X” define the legs and the seat, they sometimes fold, cushions often added for more comfort.
Os de Mouton (Louis XIII)
During the 17th century, grand dining rooms in châteaux all across France were filled with os de mouton (sheep bone) chairs. Their stately stature and shapely legs give them a classic, timeless appearance — while graceful carvings, paired with upholstered backs and seats with nailhead trim, add elegance. With legs shaped like those of a lamb, this classic Louis XIII chair is the perfect dining chair. Take your seat in an os de mouton chair with friends and family ‘round the dining room table.
Often Seen… at dining tables, as an accent chair, next to a side table.
A Closer Look Reveals… sturdy, heavy, fixed upholstery, decorative gilt or silvered nails, more comfortable and were more commonly used for ordinary domestic purposes, os de mouton chair is the most notable example of the era.
Fauteuil (Louis XIV)
Ralph Waldo Emerson once said, “Every chair should be a throne and hold a king.” The high back upholstered armchair with heavy carvings and rich upholstery, known as the fauteuil, was more like a throne during the reign of Louis XIV. While the Sun King ruled, chairs were status symbols and commoners could only hope to own one. A hierarchical seating system featured a fauteuil, majestic and royal by design, for the king and queen to sit upon. Original designs were often signed as proof of their significance. Be the king of your castle. Select the fauteuil as your throne.
Often Seen… in pairs, flanking buffets or armoires, as fireplace chairs or library chairs.
A Closer Look Reveals… upholstered armchair with straight lines and open sides, elaborate ornamentation reigned supreme, legs were figural, baluster and claw, many with pied de biche (hoof foot), most have stretchers, pads were later added to the armrests for more comfort.
Bergère (Louis XV)
Besides a crusty baguette or a fine Bordeaux, there’s nothing more quintessentially French than the en vogue Louis XV bergère (shepherdess chair), with its signature “S” shaped cabriole legs. The 18th century was indeed the Golden Age of the chair, and unlike earlier regal seats, the smaller and more feminine bergère was designed to accommodate the opulent fashions of the day. Chair arms were shortened to account for hoop skirts, while chair backs were lowered to spare huge coiffures. The embroidered silk upholstery was meant to complement the patterns and colors of the boiserie. The carved wood frames, closed arms and loose seats of the bergère blend style and comfort seamlessly and add a touch of noblesse to any room. The bergère’s ability to fit in anywhere speaks to the influence of royal mistresses. You’ll be sitting pretty in a plush bergère.
Often Seen… in pairs opposite a sofa, grouped in a formal seating area, or tucked into a corner of a bedroom
A Closer Look Reveals… included fabric covered panels between the arms and seats, there’s no mistaking the legs, shaped like an animal’s hind legs, stretcher supports disappear, easily adapted to suit the needs of all classes, from royal to provincial, every refinement in comfort was attained.
Bergère Corbeille (Louis XV)
Another popular 18th-century French armchair, the bergère corbeille, with it’s carved, basket-shaped wood frame above short padded arms and upholstered, loose cushion, was also designed for cushy lounging. Great care was given to the upholstery work in order to achieve the maximum of comfort. Don’t let someone else get your seat. Put all your eggs in this basket. Choose the bergère corbeille every time.
Often seen… in pairs, opposite a sofa, tucked in a corner.
A Closer Look Reveals… feminine, closed arms, a wide seat and basket-shaped back, short padded arms, cabriole legs.
Bergère à Oreilles (Louis XV)
Amongst the wide range of accent chairs available today, the 18th century French wing chair, the bergère à oreilles (with ears) is easily recognized by its upholstered side “wings” which were originally introduced to shield the face from the heat of a roaring fire or to protect the upper body from drafts in cold, damp houses. It also provided support in case one nodded off. This popular chair is sometimes playfully called a bergère confessionale, as if the occupant were hidden from view, as in a confessional. Cozy up with a book by the fire in a bergère à oreilles.
Often Seen… in pairs, as fireplace chairs, in a library or study
A Closer Look Reveals… protruding, upholstered wings, enveloping and closed forms provide support and comfort to the head, back and arms, as sophisticated now as it was two hundred years ago.
Primarily used for decorative purposes and not usually thought of as an accent chair, the prie-dieu (prayer chair) — the seat of which is not intended for sitting but kneeling — makes a great seat for tiny tots. Pull them up under the coffee table and they’re great for playing games, doing puzzles or coloring. They also make a good seat for kids to sit in while eating in front of the TV. Need extra seating for the little ones? Pull up a couple of prie-dieux next time.
Often Seen… used for decorative purposes, in a corner.
A Closer Look Reveals… very low, serves as a kneeling chair for prayer, upholstered seats and carved wood backs.
Fauteuil Confortable (Art Deco)
Now referred to as simply a “club chair,” the famed French fauteuil confortable (comfortable armchair), was an essential part of 20th-century luxury furniture, introduced during the late 1920s by way of trendy gentlemen’s clubs. These timeless club chairs exude luxury and character, evoking an era when well-dressed men met and relaxed in plush leather chairs with a good cognac and a Cuban cigar. The original round form was legendary, but it soon evolved and new forms such as the “moustache” back with lip-like curves across the back were introduced. Rugged, yet handsome with its clean but, sinuous lines and refinement, the fauteuil confortable is still very much admired today, offering an instant sense of history. Everybody will want to sit in it, so you’ll want more than one, or you’ll have to share. Relax in comfort while watching the big game in the fauteuil confortable.
Often Seen… in pairs or groups of four, in libraries or studies, tucked in a corner, opposite a sofa.
A Closer Look Reveals… variation of the arm chair that has low seats, arms, and backs, the curved back and armrests are heavily upholstered (usually in leather) and decorated with nail head trim, large seat and plush cushion provide the utmost comfort.
How do you decide which chair is right for you? Do you like sexy curves? Or bold, straight lines? Whatever your preference, there’s a little (or large) French chair that’s perfect for you. Like the perfect little black dress, the perfect French chair will add personality and charm to any space. It will also add a little color and maybe some drama, as well as extra seating. Next time you want to curl up in a corner with your favorite book or create a conversation area to share secrets and charcuterie with your bestie, consider a stylish French chair — or two. I chose two Louis XVI style bergères for my corner. I love the fact that they have a history and a story to tell. One day I’ll upholster them, but for now they work with just burlap. What’s in your corner of the room?
Identifying French Furniture Periods
If there’s one thing I’ve learned since falling hopelessly in love with an adorable Frenchman it’s that French people definitely appreciate the finer things in life. They’re famous for l’art de vivre. From fine wine to fine furniture, from the Eiffel Tower to the fields of Provence, the people of France surround themselves with art and furniture that spans hundreds of years of impeccable style.
The task of identifying French furniture that’s often two hundred years old can be daunting though. How do you tell a Louis XV buffet from an Empire buffet? What’s the difference between a period piece and a style piece? There’s so much to learn. But you don’t need a Ph.D in Art History to grasp the basics. I’m making everything easy for you. Our Timeline of French Furniture Periods takes away the guesswork. From the French Renaissance to les Années Folles, you’ll learn how to identify the styles you love best by following Louis — our Frenchie (which you’ll see a lot), on a trip through time as we look at the various French furniture periods and the primary motifs and elements of design for each.
What’s most important to remember when trying to decipher who’s who and what’s what is that the periods in French furniture design follow the time periods associated directly with the reign of a particular king, politician or military leader. While each king’s style differentiated his reign from the others, there’s much overlapping of styles. Take the acanthus leaf for instance, it’s used in almost every period, the swirls and curls just vary.
The difference from one monarch’s style to another is usually only a matter of a few degrees of decadence, with a couple of transitional styles thrown in between for good measure. When a piece was actually crafted during a particular king’s reign, Louis XV for example, it’s identified as a Louis XV buffet or a period buffet. It will often have the stamp of a known ébéniste and will be more valuable than a style piece, which has the style motifs typical of the Louis XV period, but was made at a time after the Beloved’s reign — then it’s referred to as a buffet in the style of Louis XV or a Louis XV style buffet.
For nearly two centuries, the House of Bourbon ruled not only the courts of France, but also its worlds of fashion and decor. The “Fab Four,” Louis XIII, XIV, XV and XVI, had a huge influence on the arts and design. These four famous kings introduced French society to music, art, fashion and furnishings. Louis XV style is the epitome of French furniture at its finest. The period is regarded by many as the Golden Age of French furniture, a period of grand creativity, influenced by scandal and royal mistresses like Madame de Pompadour and Madame du Barry. It was all about comfort in the 18th century and Louis XV style was designed for the comfort and glorification of beautiful women. The classically French bergère was introduced. This cushy armchair has stood the test of time and blends stylishly into the most contemporary of rooms.
But French furniture lost its position of dominance with the execution of Louis XVI and The French Revolution, making the early 19th century the last great period in French furniture making.
Whether you mix it up with the delectable designs of different periods or let one style dominate your decor, what’s your favorite? Let us know about the styles you love best.
Dear Diva Readers,
hat 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.
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!
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.
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.
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!
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.
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!
If you would like information on our Antiques Diva Provence Tours, where we can incorporate a day in Cotignac for you, email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Antiques Diva®
Dear Diva Readers,
ost of our clients want to maximize their time in Europe, which is why they call us to custom plan an antiquing route, introduce them to our sources, translate and negotiate in order to save them time. However many clients decide to add on days to their trip with pre or post tour to enjoy a mini-vacation. Think about it—if you were flying all the way to Europe, wouldn’t you want to see the sights and soak in the atmosphere? Our Diva Guides are always happy to recommend places for clients to experience while in whatever region they happen to be antiquing. Our Diva Guide Tara in Bordeaux recently recommended the medieval town of Saint-Emilion and since I’ve been to this charming place, I wanted to share a bit about it here on the blog.
Saint-Emilion is in the heart of the Bordeaux wine region and is known also for its gorgeous architecture, making it the perfect place to enjoy the European (and Diva) lifestyle. It was named after Emilion, a hermit who is said to have performed miracles in this area and eventually converted it to a religious epicenter. From the 9th to the 19th century, the soil was mined and extracted, thus creating the the look of the town we see today. The underground galleries beneath the villages in this region still exist today and contribute to the vineyards’ successes.
Saint-Emilion’s soil is a mix of sand, clay, and limestone, which, when combined with the micro-climate which exists here, makes it the ideal place to grow grapes for merlot, which is often blended with cabernet franc, cabernet sauvignon or malbec. This results in a wide range of aromas and flavors for which Saint-Emilion is known for worldwide. In fact, wine has been important in this region as far back as 1199 AD when John, King of England delegated his economic, political, and legal powers to the noblemen of the region to let them rule. This wine-brotherhood still promotes Saint-Emilio wine around the world and organizes the Spring Feast every year.
One of my favorite places to stay is the gorgeous chateau in the heart of the town called Hostellerie de Plaisance. With it’s terraced gardens that overlooks the bell tower of the monolithic church – it’s fit for a diva! The buildings are carved in the rock and you almost feel enveloped by the massive stones. The views, the architecture, the wine—it’s like a dream world!
If you find yourself in the Bordeaux region, we highly recommend stopping off at Saint-Emilion for a glass—or two—of wine as you take in the beautiful scenery and savor the European way of life.
The Antiques Diva®
Images from: http://www.bordeaux-tourism.co.uk/Discover-Bordeaux/Bordeaux-and-surroundings/Our-surroundings/The-Saint-Emilion-s-village-a-World-Heritage-Site
Dear Diva Readers,
’m sad to say that it is the end of an era….The renowned Foire de la Bastille will set up its tents alongside the Seine for one of the very last times this November 2015. The final edition of Bastille’s infamous antiques fair will take place next spring, but now is the time to savor this extraordinary fair which began in 1969.
Beginning November 5th and running through November 15th, 2015 this fair which includes offerings from 350 vendors will take place at the Place de la Bastille including each side of the Arsenal basin along the boulevard Bourdon and Bastille. The fair will be open each day from 11:00 to 7:00pm and costs 10 € to enter. This has consistently been one of The Antiques Diva & Co’s favorite French antique fairs as it has been a Parisian institution filled with charm which always welcomes our clients with open arms. From fine antiques which are beautifully displayed to junk stalls that require a true hunter’s eye, this fair offers something for everyone.
The theme of this season’s show is “The Mountain Cottage Mind,” and will feature dealers from all over France displaying furniture, paintings and engravings, pottery, silverware and old glasswork, ceramics, dishes, and antique linens. While the items for sale will vary vastly, the overarching theme of a French mountain cottage will prevail. As always, it is sure to be an antique hunter’s dream!
I remember past times shopping this antique fair – even before I became “The Antiques Diva” – it was a brocante I visited and shopped with my friends. I helped my friend Tamara hunt for paintings when she was returning home to Tampa after living in Paris. And I shopped with Stacey for a dining table and chairs. Catherine was on a quest for Baccarat knife rests (if I recall she ultimately found those she was looking for in Chatou at the Ham Fair). Meanwhile Lisa and I sought out vintage fashion. And I came home with more than a piece or two of crystal and porcelain for my personal collections. The Bastille Brocante is as much of part of my personal past as it is my companies past – each season we’ve taken clients to find treasures along the Seine when it returned for it’s twice annual fair dates.
If you would like to book an Antiques Diva Paris Tour in conjunction with this fair, email us at email@example.com. We’d love to custom plan an antiques buying tour for you, taking you not only to the fair, but also to Les Puces and other secret sources just outside of Paris to help you find the perfect pieces you’re looking for. As always, our Diva Guides can translate and negotiate on your behalf, helping you maximize your time and money while abroad.
The Antiques Diva®
Dear Diva Readers,
hile most of our clients come on buying tours with serious agendas—they often want to fill a container with European antiques in a matter of days — some people also choose to add on time at the end of their tour for more of a vacation since they’re already over in Europe! And believe me, after power shopping with an Antiques Diva Guide, a little R&R is necessary (hmmm… perhaps we should start including massages at the end of each tour)! Often times while on tour, our Diva Guides will point out interesting places along the way—after all, our guides are all locally based so they know the surrounding areas very well!
Recently one of our Diva Guides in France, Katie, was taking clients on a buying tour in Normandy, which is a great place to source antiques at discount prices from Paris prices. Along the way, Katie passed right by the Monet house with clients and they decided to stop en route to sneak in a little design inspiration visiting his famous house in Giverny. With warm weather just beginning, Spring time is a perfect time to take in the gardens and the scenery in this charming part of France.
Claude Monet lived in the house for forty-three years (1883-1926) and as you can imagine, like any artist would, he made many alterations to the original structure over that time. Originally the house was called House of the Cider-Press as an apple-press was located on the nearby square. It was a small home compared to the long, spread out place it is today. As his family and career grew, Monet had the house enlarged on either side, resulting in the structure we see today. The barn next to the house became his studio and above that is an apartment he used while he worked.
The distinct color palate (pink and green) of the exterior of the house was chosen by Monet. Rather than go with the traditional grey shutter of that time, Monet opted for green and planted Virginia creeper on the facade of the house so it would blend in with the surrounding landscape—almost like a Monet painting! From his bed he had beautiful views of the garden which he loved.
The property is divided into flower beds where flowers of different heights create depth and volume. Ornamental and fruit tress are mixed in as well to add to the character of the garden. A mix of rare flowers as well as common ones such as daisies and poppies populate the beds. The central path is covered by iron arches that support climbing roses. However Monet’s gardens are not structured. He preferred to pair flowers according to color and then let them grow rather freely.
But the garden isn’t only about plants. The water garden was cultivated ten years after he moved to Giverny. A small brook runs through the property and Monet had a little pond dug, which was later enlarged. Inspired by the Japanese gardens Monet had the Japanese Bridge built by a local craftsman and then planted it with wisterias. For more than twenty years he found inspiration for paintings from this very garden.
After Monet’s death in 1926 the house passed through various family member’s care until 1977 when his son bequeathed the estate to Academie des Beaux-Arts. After much neglect, it took almost ten years to restore the property to what we see today. With a crumbling staircase, trees growing in the studio, and much of the garden grown over, it took many donations, mostly from Americans, to bring the place back to its former glory. And since September 1980, the house has been opened for visitors.
Just like Monet was inspired by the gardens and home he created, our clients were inspired after their visit too! Whenever you’re traveling it’s so important to take in the historic and cultural places that you come across. You never know what you might learn and what ideas you may have after touring a historic property. That’s why I love our Diva Guides—they know this all too well and always go above and beyond for our clients.
If you’d like information on taking an Antiques Diva Buying Tour in any of our 8 tour countries, email us at firstname.lastname@example.org
Until next time,
The Antiques Diva®
Dear Diva Readers,
ur lovely Antiques Diva Guide in Provence is Caren. Today she’s sharing a bit about why antiquing is so much more exciting than simply shopping big box stores—especially in Provence where markets have constantly changing inventory! She even shares some of her favorite places to score antiques.
Diva Guide Caren writes:
“Antiquing… it’s so much more exciting than just shopping. It’s like looking for hidden treasure. You’re never sure what you will find and it’s often not in plain view, but when you discover the right piece, you know it’s a keeper. For most of us, shopping is a chore. Not so with antiquing. In a world where so many of the stores pump out the same old, same old, it is a breath of refreshing air to be in Provence with daily possibility of shopping at a market.
And remember, nowadays, even top fashion houses are looking to combine shabby with chic. When you’re antiquing you won’t see the same brand names that are found in high streets, airports and shopping malls the world over. The French markets are a daily and weekly delight, brimming with fresh local produce and handicrafts.
If you’re looking for a bargain or something that won’t be found in any of the high street shops, it’s the Puce or Flea markets, the Brocante (Second Hand goods) and the Vide-Greniers (literally, Empty Attics,) which are the ones to seek out.
Some Flea Markets take place on a regular basis and the stallholders are mostly professional dealers, but the Brocante and Vide-Greniers sales tend to be held only occasionally. Vide-Greniers normally attract private sellers who in the UK might attend a Car Boot Sale or in the US would hold a Yard Sale. Really big Vide-Greniers may attract hundreds of sellers and thousands of bargain hunters. This is the place to find collectables or pick up a bargain— something that you won’t find at any chain store.
The great news is, that if you’re in Provence, there’s a flea market to be found every day of the week. Here’s a list of some of the Antique markets.
Saturday: Villeneuve les Avignon.
One of my favorites is held every Saturday morning across the Rhone from Avignon. Moderate in size, it is held in the car park underneath the ancient fortress of Villeneuve. Between 80 and 100 vendors set up here, offering a wide range of items, many with a focus on Provence. Buyers who own shops in the near-by Isle sur la Sorgue come here in search of a bargain. Provençal ceramics, pots, linens, agricultural tools and clocks. A great market where you might well make an interesting discovery, and at a reasonable price.
Sunday: Carpentras – parking des Platanes
Carpentras is approximately 30 km north of Avignon. Late on a Sunday mornings a delightful flea market unfolds in a lovely tree-lined parking area– parking des Platanes. It starts around 10.00 am and it’s a preferred meeting place for some of the more serious collectors: those who a happy to do their own digging. Here you often have to rummage through boxes and crates to find your treasure. Between 130 to 150 vendors set up and often, they are selling their own belongings, which fall more into the category of “second-hand” than “collectable”. The variety in terms of wares and prices is huge, with an emphasis on the rustic and every day, rather than on up market decorative objects. If you are looking for something really unusual and surprising, this is one of the best places to find it, though you will have to expend some energy in the process.
This is the perfect flea market for someone to dig around and hunt for something special and affordable!
Also on Sunday…
Aubagne: Antique market: last Sunday of every month at the Marche de Gros, quartier de la Tourtelle
Isle sur-la-Sorgue: Antique and flea market: every Sunday all along the avenue des 4 Otages, in the village centre
Monday: Nice – Cours Saleya
There are about 200 vendors here until to mid-afternoon. Cours Saleya is just behind the Promenade des Anglais and it’s a great place to rummage. The market is mostly high quality, but treasure hunters can often find a special something. Many items have also found their way here from across the Italian border which makes for an interesting mélange and some vendors speak English, as well as Italian. Lots of silver, vintage clothing, posters, nautical and travel items and ceramics.
Tuesday and Thursday: Aix en Provence, Place Verdun in the mornings
Wednesday : Pernes les Fontains
Antique market in the morning in the car-park at the centre of the village
A Brocante market at Place du Théâtre in the morning
If you would like more information on an Antiques Diva Provence Tour, email us at email@example.com.
Au revoir et Bonne Shopping!
The Antiques Diva®
Dear Diva Readers,
Today our Antiques Diva Guide in Provence is sharing her thoughts on what her job leading buying tours really means. Enjoy!
ntiquing is a noble profession, a bit like match-making. For what could be nobler than to introduce two entities that were made for each other? I’m talking about match-making the past with the future: the bringing together long-forgotten treasures belonging to a past era with the hosts of special people, that set out every weekend to hunt for antiques- crazy for the vintage charm of pre-loved objects of art from another age. These people are exceptional. They can appreciate the value and history of pre-loved treasures. Their thumbs start twitching and they get excited when they see items with gilded patinas and irregular scratches. And in turn, the pieces from eras gone by are waiting, anticipating…sometimes restored but always lonely and forgotten.
For these items, there is now the hope for a new life. And it comes in the form of the recycling treasure-lovers. These are the people, the connoisseurs, who admire distressed furniture, rusty light-fittings, old paint buckets and rutted cutting boards. They can see the value of the history of a piece of furniture; they appreciate the significance and will treasure these objects, proud to have them in their care.
For many, the hunt is the fun, and where better to start than in the village of L’isle sir la Sorgue, a small town lying on the Sorgue River, between Avignon and Apt in Provence, France.
In the 12th century, L’isle sur la Sorgue was a small fishing village where the houses were built on stilts above a marsh. Later, in the 18th century, huge water wheels churned the water on the canals, creating power for the silk and paper industries. Today, the waters flow down two main channels in town, and many shops have their back-doors opening over the water, creating shady and pleasant nooks and crannies to explore.
Known also as the Venice of Provence, the town is a delightful destination for anyone interested in antiquing, decorative arts, brocante markets or gastronomy. It is here that you will find more than 300 antique outlets and flea markets in the old mills and weaving factories: a huge selection of antiques and decorative arts and sellers who cater to all tastes.
A wander through the village will uncover an astonishing range of antiques, suitable for all budgets. This is the perfect spot to find a treasure for your home. It’s like being in a museum but better, as you are allowed to touch and handle all of the art pieces on show.Whether you are looking for something small to display on a side-board or considering remodeling your entire house, this is the place to be.
Choose a perfect 18th century iron gate, formerly part of a French chateau, or a stone chimney piece. Or perhaps you’d prefer a grand marble stair case or a 19th century mirror that once adorned the entrance foyer of an art deco theatre, reflecting the images of opera-goers as they added their finishing touches.
If these items are too large, why not hunt for something smaller? Like kids on a treasure hunt, it’s a joy to rummage through the layers of history, looking for the piece that says, “Take me home!” From egg baskets to light-fixtures and antique iron watering cans, L’isle sur la Sorgue has it all.
During the week, the antique dealers comb the country-side, often driving huge distances to estate sales on the other side of the country. House clearances are holy grails for dealers. If successful, they return to their workshops where they may spend many painstaking hours reupholstering a chair, repairing a door or examining various points of workmanship on their newly acquired items, so that when the markets open again for business the following weekend, there will be a whole new selection of artifacts to offer, available for eager buyers and collectors.
No divining rod needed. Introducing a beautiful vintage antique to an antique lover can be a match made in heaven. It means that fine pieces of our history will once again find a home. What could be more perfect? Old pieces, recycled by those who appreciate the craftsmanship and at the same time, indulge their passion for the old and beautiful. What better profession is there than to be an antique guide in this paradise?
Provence Diva Guide Caren – Filling in For The Antiques Diva®
Dear Diva Readers,
t’s time to study abroad. No need to waste time at the La Sorbonne – it’s time to go study arts and antiques at the Louvre! I’ve always said that anyone interested in antiques should really spend time indoors at the museums in addition to at the flea markets so they can educate their eye on quality, but now more than ever I encourage you to take my advice! The Louvre has finally reopened its 18th-century decorative-arts galleries after a nine-year, $35 million renovation during which time this wing was closed. The project was spearheaded by who else? That bastion of French Interior Design – Jacques Garcia! But Monsieur Garcia didn’t make a dime off the project – he donated his time to the Louvre for the love of antiques.
This 23,000-square-foot space has 33 galleries, including 14 period rooms faithfully recreated covering the period from 1660 to 1790. With more than 2,000 objects spread over 35 rooms consider this the ULTIMATE LESSON in French Antiques! The Louvre’s collection of eighteenth-century decorative art – royal furniture, decorative bronzes, rugs, tapestries, gold and silver ware, porcelain, jewelry and scientific instruments – is one of the richest and most comprehensive public collections of its kind. Each room is accurately reproduced with pieces only from that period. I’m not only going to go visit the new exhibit myself I’m scheduling an outing for my entire Paris team to go together with me this fall!
The Antiques Diva®
(seen here at the Louvre with my darling husband before a gala I attended there one magical night in Paris several years ago)