Chatou Brocante and Antiques

We’ve been doing a bit of work on the house again, and this time the shower-room is taking shape. There just the physical water connection, a shower screen and a mirror left to do, and when it comes to mirrors, there’s nothing better than trying to pick up an antique one, especially when the antiques faire at Chatou is on.

We’d never been to this particular fair before and so didn’t know what to expect. The brocante is laid out on a small island in the middle of the river Seine, just outside of Paris. It was mid-week so not too many people were there, but it was huge and fabulous, and there were plenty of makeshift restaurants to choose from in the middle of the day.img_1325-2

What I liked best was the artistry of some of the stands, and there was plenty that I would have loved to buy, though the mirror remained elusive!img_1310img_1311img_1326

There were so many amazing urns and cloches, but our bartering didn’t manage to get us any bargains!img_1327I so nearly went for the pineapple, but “husband chez nous” didn’t look away for long enough.. it was after all “mission mirror”!img_1316I loved this one, a grey and gilt trumeau mirror….the price was to die for too!

And after all, why have one when you can have three!img_1318-1img_1322img_1330

So many lovely things that it was hard to head home.img_1309img_1319

But since the great mirror hunt continues, there’s still the excuse to come back for more. The basin is very lonely all by itself.

The Great French Hypothetical House Hunt – The perfect Kitchen.

Today I received a phone call from the French estate agent that thought that this would be my perfect house:

“Madame” he said, “If you are quick to put in an offer, you will be in a very strong position – no matter if your house in England has not yet sold”

“Yes” I mused, “I will be in a very strong position because no-one else wants this particular house – Its is very plain and very banal and not at all what I am looking for”

His call did however set me to reflecting about one of the most important rooms of a house. The kitchen.  With my new found passion for patisserie, I often dream of the large smooth granite slab atop my central island unit in my old kitchen and think how wonderful it would be with all its marvelous ‘coldness’ for creating chocolate curls, and preparing pâte feuilleté (puff pastry) and croissants.

And so my dreams started to formulate themselves into my new and perfect hypothetical kitchen. And at that moment I knew why, even with the smooth talking Monsieur’s …

“mais madame, on habite à l’interieur d’une maison, pas l’exterieur”

(but madam, one lives in the interior of a house, not the exterior)

..the house in question simply would never work, even if blindfolded on entry. The kitchen was simply too small and pokey for any kind of creative excess.

Firstly the ideal kitchen has to large, and how much more fantastic than to have an open fire and bold beautiful architectural features. Look at this vaulted ceiling!

Top of the wish list –  plenty of room for a huge table for family and friends to sit around.

and ideally doors leading out to the garden..

…and a view! I know of course that I’m getting carried away, but i’d like to be able to wander out and pick mint from the garden to put with the peas.

If I lower my expectations, this would do very nicely!

Did I mention how important it is to have a huge slab of polished stone for patisserie? I imagine I did!

Simplicity is key when choosing cupboards, and calm cool colours. All the ‘busy’ will come from the utensils.

Simple glassware and china..

..crocks and pots.

and a wonderful corner for friends to settle in and chat, or the kids to lounge about and talk about their day whilst I cook –

or dare I say it, for ‘husband à l’etranger’ and I to have ‘time-out’ with a glass of wine!

…leaning on some wonderful cushions made from old grain sacks like these from Atelier Be.

and an ‘aide memoire’ to remind me what I need to buy. I imagine blue means I need to order more and white, that I have enough. This cannot be my house, I have plenty of wine left and have not finished all the chocolate!

An old battered jug in which to put garden flowers would be lovely,

 and old French linen tablecloths,

and some old french plates found in a brocante.

and a wonderful old french clock to get us to school on time.

and perhaps some unframed portraits of odd ancestors!

and no matter what, with all those old brocante ‘finds’ , the old french windows and food from the market, the ideal kitchen is unmistakably French.

The perfect kitchen for lounging lazily at the table with a glass of wine and a delectable patisserie?

I’ll let you know once i’ve polished off these macarons!

All photos thanks to Google Images