When you think of France, what comes to mind? Likely food. Possibly the word "bonjour." And, if you're in our Shop, most definitely style. The effortlessness, the beauty, French design turns the most humdrum of tasks into something out of a Renoir painting. Sunday afternoon chores? There's a French broom for that. Preparing dinner for your family after a 10-hour work day? There's a French pepper mill for that. Trying to swat mosquitoes away from a picnic cheese spread? There's a French pocket knife for that.
Visit The Shop and you'll stumble upon iconic French brand after iconic French brand. Some you may recognize, some you'll be delighted to discover. We've rounded up 8 of our favorites, plus our best vintage pieces, French-inspired designs, and French cookbook standbys. May we introduce (or re-introduce)...
A brief history: A family-owned company passed down from father (George-René Julio—a trained brush-maker who apprenticed in Nantes) to son to grandson. With the advent of plastics the demand for high-quality brushes went by the wayside, but the company has since revived their classic designs. These are pieces of true craftsmanship, from the beechwood handles to the natural bristles.
Why we love them: Cleaning with Andrée Jardin tools makes us feel more chic and less Cinderella. We'll admit it, cleaning a ceiling fan is never exactly fun, but it's definitely the easiest it's ever been with the soft, tightly packed horsehair bristles and the smart circular shape of Andrée Jardin's brush. The colors make us pretty dang happy, too.
A brief history: Mauviel began in Villedieu-les-Poêles ("the city of copper"), a village in Normandy with an 800-year tradition of copper manufacturing. It's still a private family-owned business today, now in its seventh generation. With 10 different cookware lines to choose from, Mauviel pans are found in professional kitchens and in the hands of home cooks.
Why we love them: Of the several Mauviel cookware lines we carry, the M'Steel pans are the ones we reach for every day: the extra-thick (but surprisingly lightweight) carbon steel becomes naturally nonstick after seasoning, heats up quickly and evenly, and stands up to screaming hot temperatures. The handsome-meets-utilitarian design is an added bonus. And for the copper connoisseurs out there, the M'passion and M'héritage lines have got that swoon-worthy, collector-ready shine.
A brief history: Another family run business, Emile Henry began in Burgundy, France and are known worldwide for their quality ceramic cookware. Their pieces are made of Burgundy clay, which comes from the same mineral-rich soil used to grow the region's famous wines.
Why we love them: The Burgundy clay diffuses heat evenly (especially useful when baking bread) and retains heat like a champ, so things will stay warm when they reach your table. And reach your table they will: the glossy, deep navy finish and graceful curves (we're especially drooling over that tagine) are too pretty to keep back in the kitchen. Another fun fact: Emile Henry pieces can go directly from the freezer to the oven—they're incredibly resistant to thermal shock.
A brief history: Maison Boissier opened up in the 1820s on the outskirts of Place de l'Etoile in Paris, now known as the Place Charles de Gaulle, where twelve of Paris' major avenues meet at the Arc de Triomphe. A "Boissier" was a shop where one could stop and stock up on delicacies, and there was one on every major avenue. Today, the shop keeps the long tradition of French candy and chocolate-making alive while constantly incorporating contemporary style and flavors.
Why we love them: Maison Boissier's candies are a favorite gift of ours to give—the pretty vintage-style packaging is like a present in and of itself. The confections inside aren't your typical grocery shelf selection, from smooth, fruity pearls, to whimsical and nostalgic hard candies.
A brief history: The Alsace region has a celebrated culinary history, combining both French and German influences. Hearty, pork-filled stews are a staple of Alsatian cuisine, often made in one sturdy pot. Francis Staub set out to make the perfect pot for this tradition in an old artillery factory—and the first Staub cocotte was born. The first of millions of cast iron pots to come.
Why we love them: An incredible amount of work goes into creating each piece of Staub cookware, and the durability in our kitchens prove it. From the classic cocotte to the adorable rice cooker, Staub is built to last through many meals, and maybe even a few gallant attempts at bacheofe
A brief history: The Opinels were blacksmiths spanning several generations in the tiny village of Albiez-le-Vieux in the French Alps. The gradual industrialization of France throughout the 19th century introduced new manufacturing techniques that made hand-performed metalwork less common. Although his traditional father poo-pooed the advent of this machine-driven work, Josef Opinel embraced these modern technologies. He experimented on his own time, eventually settling on a simple pocket knife to put into small-scale production. The Opinel knife was born!
Why we love them: We keep finding new ways to use our Opinel corkscrew knife, so we're never without it (there's a reason its called a pocket knife). Cutting watermelon at a picnic, saving the day when your hotel room doesn't have a corkscrew, breaking down boxes, whittling an animal figurine, you name it. The carbon steel blade lasts forever, and the patina it develops will make you feel pretty badass.
A brief history: Peugeot began by manufacturing saw blades, which were quickly recognized as stronger and longer-lasting than any of their competitors. By 1840, Peugeot was making coffee grinders using advances in the same technology, and in 1874 their first pepper grinder—the Z model—was put on the market.
Why we love them: When we think peppermill, we think Peugeot. Nothing compares to its classic, curvaceous design—and whether we want a coarse covering or a fine dusting of pepper, Peugeot nails it every time. They've added tons of modern designs and finishes to their canon—a particular favorite around here is the sleek brushed stainless steel pair.
A brief history: In the Sancerre region, the Pillivuyt brothers purchased a brick factory, but instead started making porcelain for the everyday household. By the 1850s, Pillivuyt had won several design awards and was the chosen porcelain for many royal homes. Pillivuyt creates its own porcelain compound on-site, one of the few porcelain makers to do so, and is one of the last companies where the entire manufacturing process takes place in France.
Why we love them: While we appreciate color and modern design, sometimes we want something completely, simply classic for our homes. Pillivuyt porcelain's clean, bright white cake stands, casseroles, and roasters come out of the cabinet when we need a breath of fresh air.
Got any favorite French brands or companies? Let us know in the comments.