About The French Antique Shop
Winter 2020 Newsletter
We hope you and your loved ones are well during these unusual times. We are emerging refreshed and excited from a few months of hibernation with gratitude. Despite the world wide disruption, our container of French goods arrived in Melbourne as scheduled. Exciting news – we have both completed a Dimploma D’Apprenti Parfumeur from Fragonard, a sought-after fragrance. Click the button below to read more.
What's in store this winter?
Our latest shipment from France …
The French Antique Shop – Winter Edition
We have just received news that our container arriving into dock next week so it is time to begin the process of translating the invoices and receipts from French to English; but before we do an opportunity to share our travels that culminated in our fist container being filled to the brim with French treasures to share with you.
We left Melbourne on a very wet Friday night to arrive into Nice and glorious 30 degree heat. With our French slightly polished in transit it was not long until we were using it to purchase the latest edition of the Aladin Antique magazine to help us get our ‘eye in’.
The first decision was easy; Marche Cours Saleya on Monday morning. It was at this very market where we have bought so many treasures in the past so it didn’t take long for the excitement to kick in. With lists of requests from our customers and our minds and eyes wide open the unique experience of purchasing for the business began.
As we fought back the jet lag and having had wonderful days experience and purchasing we were homebound to pack the wall sconces, cushions and copper; mindful that were off for an early start the next day.
Bright and early we were on the first train out of Nice heading to Grasse to visit the Fragonard Perfum Factory and Musee. The train trip along the Mediterranean was wonderful as we passed through Antibes and Canne before heading to the mountains; Stunning!
Blaming jet lag as opposed to our poor sense of direction we found ourselves approaching the same roundabout for the third time. To avoid the fourth approach we decided to put our electronic and paper maps (as we were using both at this stage!) aside and literally ‘follow our nose’ to the house and gardens of Fragonard. It was a surreal experience to follow the increasingly intense fragrance from the jardin de Fragonard rather than a map but that is what we did. With the stunning views of Grasse below and the iconic building of Fragonard to our side our introduction to the home of Fragonard had begun. We had a personalized tour of the Factory which took us through the process from ‘petal to bottle’ which enhanced our appreciation for the process, product and history of the fragrance range we sell in store.
Paul has built a resonance with ‘habit de Parfumeur’ and has skillfully drawn a picture of him on the blackboard at the front of the shop that announces our fragrance of the week. It was with great delight that we came across the original statue of the first ‘Perfume Seller’ in his costume of perfume bottles. With thanks to Karen our Fragonard hostess for her generous hospitality we headed back to the train station heading back to Nice.
Suitcases and treasures packed it was off to Aubenas and St Privat in the Rhone Valley to start the ‘serious’ shopping. A few hours with Richard had us well into the buyers groove and an incredible sense of contentment for Paul who after 15 years of searching had purchased a stunning pair of antique leather club chairs. The challenge now is going to be for him to part with them once they are offloaded and instore. Seriously, some photos sum up the moment and no words are needed; just look at that smile. It was late in the day and we had hours of travel along the A7 to go so we navigated the Rhone Valley to Montmelimar and then North bound to Lyon in time to get orientated to Lyon and excited about of first visit to Les Puces du Canal at dawn.
We shopped and shopped and shopped and met some terrific dealers throughout the day with whom we were on first name basis after our 4th day trip to the Markets. We purchased salon settings, armoires, vitrines, champagne coupes, paintings, zine, porcelain, etchings, mannequins, busts, figurines, silverware, jardinières and mirrors galore.
Back to Lyon we travelled for our last appointment with Anne and Theiry the following morning. Knowing it is the final day of buying before the doors of the container were to be forced closed we had a ball;; tables, bookcases, chairs, mirrors, busts, vitrine, chandeliers, a 50 piece table service. All ours for a short time and soon available for you. Needless to say the travel scales that we have relied on for 15 years (see newsletter one for the context) were not needed on this trip. Rather than the focus being on a few Kgs here and there our preoccupation was how many centimeters remain in the container. Unfortunately three items missed the shipment as they would not fit but will be forwarded in the next container.
Exhausted but elated with the success of the buying we returned the vehicle (which was a relief) and caught the train to Paris where we caught our breath and visited our favorite Parisian Marches before returning home.
Many of you visited Marg in store while we were away and we are very grateful for all she did to keep the doors open while we were away.
Time now to start the translation of the invoices.
Until next time… au revoir pour le moment.
Felicity and Paul
March 2019 - Bonjour from The French Antique Shop
Thank you for you support, encouragement and patronage throughout our first four months of trading. We have had a terrific summer of trading with a lot of the new stock we have introduced to the store having found a new home (perhaps yours) within a short time.
With solid trading behind us earlier today we purchased our flights to France to replenish our stock supply. We will be heading away late April and returning late May. The major difference for us this trip is that our overfilled suitcases of French treasures will be replaced with pallets of French treasures loaded into a shipping container. We hope to source the stock our customers have requested and we are looking forward to the delight we experience in finding the hidden gems amongst the brocante and antique and everything in between.
We will arriving into Nice to explore the wonderful Cours Saleya Market in the Old Town.
We are looking forward to retracing our steps from our last visit knowing we have so much more room to store the best we can source from the Bay of Angels.
With our jet lag behind us we will then travel to south to Grasse to visit the home of Fragonard. This will be an exciting side trip for us. The demand for the fragrance line has been incredible since we introduced it to the store and we look forward to sharing our enhanced experience of the range with you on our return.
From Grasse we will be heading North to Lyon where we will spend a few weeks exploring the antiques of the Auvergne-Rhone-Alpes and visiting Les Puces de Canal as many times as possible in the time permitting.
With the hire van filled to the brim with French treasures to share with you on our return we will then travel further North to Paris. Paris in the Spring time…
Please come and say hello to Marg who will be keeping the doors open while we are away.
Looking forward to seeing you again soon.
Au Revoir pour le moment
Paul and Felicity
Our French Antique Journey
Looking back at travel journals, our story begins on a 2004 French vacation. On a hot summer day in the week leading into Christmas we depart Melbourne with nothing but hand luggage and a list of the best marches aux puces (flea and antique markets) in France. A few weeks later we returned with 59.7 kg of collectibles in the hold of the plane, just below the 60 kg maximum thanks to our portable and very accurate travel scales. Unpacking on our return was not like the experiences of many who have spent a few weeks in the best places of France. Not one new piece of clothing; instead our suitcases were filled with treasures from the marches aux puces. Some 15 years later, each single treasure collected on that first journey and every annual trip since has been lovingly displayed in our home.
Journeying in a New Direction
Since the first trip and falling in love with all things French, we have pondered where to live and what to do in the next phase of our life… would we go and live in France and set up a B&B for Australians wanting to share our experience, live and blend into either rural France or the wonder of apartment living in Paris. During the winter months of 2018 and reflecting on our most recent trip to Bordeaux, St Emillion, Perigueux and Paris, we had a life-changing epiphany. This meant approaching our favourite French Antique and Home Décor store in Carlton to explore any local opportunities that would help fulfil our Francophile dream. And as the saying goes, the rest is history.
The Journey has Become the Destination
As proud new owners of The French Antique Shop at 290 Rathdowne Street, we have an exciting new location to continue our French antique journey. We intend to build on the French theme and 20 years of trading success achieved by both Julie and Erik who ran Cote Provence and prior to that Bernice with French and Co. Achieving this means we will begin importing directly from France to complement the stock supplied from our local dealers and in time expand our product range to include many new unique and quality items made in traditional ways.
We Invite You to Join Our Journey
As Rathdowne Street locals for over 13 years, we have always felt connected to Europe on our regular walks to the Rathdowne St Village. Just seeing the tree lined streets, outdoor cafes and fine restaurants takes us back to the grand boulevards of France that originally captured our imagination back in 2004. Today, we are thrilled to be able to finally say bienvenue to friends new and old that share our passion for all things antiquely French.