Tag Archives: France

Antiques Buying Trip in France Part 2

Greg and I have been in Paris and Northern France on an antiques buying trip before we head off to Belgium and England to find even more antique treasures. We already posted about the first days of our antiques buying trip in France, so here’s the next adventure in our European Pickers tour 2017!

Normandy Antiques Shop

This is one of the antiques shops that we visited. Greg loves these old half-timbered buildings in Normandy.

However, our travels aren’t always so charming. In one place we arrived at what we thought was an antiques store, only to find a pile of junk and rubble. It looked more like a place where old cars go to die! And the less “glamorous” side of antique hunting in Europe is sitting in a grocery store parking lot trying to confirm where to head next!

Our cell phones make life easier, unlike our earlier days of antique hunting in France where we had to rely on paper maps and public phones. Travelers’ tip: We have a Travel Pass with Verizon and can use our phones just like in the US for $10 per day. It’s totally worth it!

shopping for antiques

This was one of our more successful destinations. Antique jackpot! If you spot something in this photo and you want to buy it, there’s no point telling us to pick out the second chair from the left in the third row from the back! We’ve been and gone already!

Where the antiques hide

So this is where the antiques hide! Sometimes you have to dig around a bit.

antiques picking in France

And we realized at another destination that sometimes you have to climb up to the highest vantage point to find the good stuff! You can spot Greg down there somewhere.

Carving on buffet

As a sample of some of the good stuff we found, this is a fantastic carving on an antique buffet. Look at the detail… it’s really wonderful.  We look forward to welcoming this fine gentleman to the USA soon, once we have shipped him home. He has no idea of the voyage ahead of him!

Therese of Lisieux

Our last stop in France was the second most visited pilgrimage site after Lourdes, the birthplace of Saint Therese of Lisieux. Known as the “Little Flower,” she suggested doing many small good deeds as a way to express piety, for which she was canonized in 1925. We have sold antique statues of Saint Therese a hundred times over the years, so we knew that when we had the chance to see the real deal, we needed to go!

Van

We picked up this van in France so we could transport our purchases as we travel around France.

Next we head in the van to Belgium, which Greg calls his second home.

In my next blog post I’ll show you our travels in Belgium and the amazing treasure trove of chandeliers we found. The next puzzle will be… can Greg fit them all in the back of the van along with all the chairs and other furniture?

AimeeAvatarAimee owns EuroLuxHome.com with her husband and best friend, Greg. Aimee sources amazing antique furniture, vintage lighting, & high-quality reproduction furniture to help her customers decorate their homes in a unique way. She loves her 8 (you read that right) fuzzy children and is renovating a 1920s bungalow in South Carolina. Find us on Facebook or connect with EuroLux on Google+. Or you can sign up here to receive this blog in your inbox.

Antiques Buying Trip in France

Bonjour from France! Greg and I landed in Paris at the weekend on an antiques buying trip around Northern France, Belgium and England. Come along for the ride! We’ve been posting more photos as we go on our EuroLux Facebook page so you can follow us there too and see pictures of the treasures we find.

Antiques shopping in France

Our first stop in France? We immediately hit the famous antique market in Saint Ouen. This market is in a suburb of Paris just north of the popular tourist area of Montmartre which is crowned by the lovely Sacré-Cœur Basilica.

Antiques hunting in France

Basilica of St Denis
There was lots to see, and sometimes the most wonderful antiques are tucked away in unexpected places so you have to keep your eyes wide open! This started getting difficult by the time we’d spent the day antiques shopping. We could barely keep our eyes open at all with the jet lag kicking in! So we decided to visit the Basilica of Saint-Denis. As you can see, it was a perfect sunny day.

 

The Basilica of Saint-Denis was the very first Gothic cathedral ever built. It has been on my bucket list for many years and was even more beautiful in person!

Basilica of St Denis Paris

The Basilica is in Saint-Denis, a northern suburb of Paris. The choir was completed in 1144 and was the first example of a building that used all the elements of Gothic architecture.

We sell quite a lot of antique French Gothic furniture and new pieces with Gothic influences, so it was fascinating to see the building that led the way for this entire style!

Inside Basilica

The stained glass is exquisite, as you can see from this rose window. Most French kings between the 10th and the 18th centuries were buried here at the Basilica, and French Queens were often crowned here too. It became a place of pilgrimage for many.

antique French Prie DieuThen we headed off to Normandy and Brittany for a few days. In Normandy one of my favorite picks of the day was this gorgeous antique prie-dieu prayer chair circa 1890.  I always buy a prie-dieu chair when I find a good one! Prie-dieu literally means “Pray god” and people use it as a knee rest in their prayers and as a support for prayer books. We’ll reupholster the padded knee rest in red velvet.

French Chateau FougeresSometimes when you’re on the road on an antiques buying trip, things don’t turn out quite as expected. Greg and I have learned that if the addresses on your list don’t pan out but there is a massive chateau nearby, stop for the chateau instead!  This is in the medieval part of Fougeres, on the Brittany-Normandy border.

We hope you enjoyed this glimpse into our antiques buying trip in France. More photos and stories to follow and you can see more from our journey on our Facebook page!

AimeeAvatarAimee owns EuroLuxHome.com with her husband and best friend, Greg. Aimee sources amazing antique furniture, vintage lighting, & high-quality reproduction furniture to help her customers decorate their homes in a unique way. She loves her 8 (you read that right) fuzzy children and is renovating a 1920s bungalow in South Carolina. Find us on Facebook or connect with EuroLux on Google+. Or you can sign up here to receive this blog in your inbox.

 

Paris Ritz Renovates Traditional Antique French Decor

I am pleased that the Paris Ritz renovation is finally completed and the hotel is open again! Here at EuroLuxHome.com we import all our fine antique furniture from Europe (hence the name!) and although some of the furniture comes from other European countries, most is from France. Paris is close to our hearts and the Paris Ritz is an icon. The building on Place Vendôme is beautiful and it is packed with antique furniture. So let’s see how it looks now, because even if we can’t all afford to stay there, we can enjoy the beautiful antique décor.

Ritz Paris Windsor SuiteThe photo above of the Windsor Suite gives a taste of what to expect. When Swiss hotelier César Ritz bought this private palace built in the early 18th century, he planned to turn it into a luxury hotel with: “All the refinement that a prince could desire in his own home.” He did a good job of it because when the Ritz opened in 1898 the most influential people started to stay there.  The Ritz boasted a private bathroom with each guest room! In those days, this was an unheard-of amenity. Boy, how times have changed. Even a Motel 6 room has its own bathroom now!

Paris Ritz Imperial Suite

In 2012 the current owner closed the Paris Ritz in order to restore it back to its former glory. The hotel is famous for its traditional 18th-century French décor, splendid and opulent, but the antique furniture and decorative items needed some work.

Ritz Paris suiteThey had craftsmen restore the antique furniture and light fixtures, and apparently the hotel expected a lot from the artisans who did the restorations. For example, some of the antique chairs were repainted 15 times to restore them to their original authentic colors!

Marie Antoinette Room Paris RitzAntique objects and art still fill the Ritz Paris after the renovation, and some of the suites replicate the furnishings that reflect the décor styles of the famous names that once stayed at the hotel. For example, the Duke and Duchess of Windsor, Coco Chanel, and Marcel Proust all had their individual styles. This is the Salon Proust:

salon Proust Paris Ritz

The New York-based French architect and designer Thierry W. Despont was in charge of this precious renovation. Yikes, he had to carry a lot of responsibility. He had to keep the essence of the hotel but also allow for modern technology to be included, and hey… as a New York architect he certainly knew that they had to upgrade the air-conditioning system!

It seems that the renovations at the Paris Ritz have been very popular. It looks like they did a great job of it. If you’ve stayed at the Paris Ritz since it reopened, tell us about it on the blog or even send some photos… we’d love to see them!

AimeeAvatarAimee owns EuroLuxHome.com with her husband and best friend, Greg. Aimee sources amazing antique furniture, vintage lighting, & high-quality reproduction furniture to help her customers decorate their homes in a unique way. She loves her 8 (you read that right) fuzzy children and is renovating a 1920s bungalow in South Carolina. Find us on Facebook or connect with EuroLux on Google+. Or you can sign up here to receive this blog in your inbox.

Old World Christmas Traditions

Greg and I aren’t taking an antiques buying trip to Europe during this holiday season because we’re too busy filling customer orders for gifts. But I love thinking about interesting Old World Christmas traditions – especially the food! It’s fascinating to see the different ways people in France, England, and Italy celebrate the holidays. While some of these Old World Christmas traditions are familiar to us too, at least in certain regions of the USA or Canada, others are less well-known.

Old World Christmas Traditions in France

Old World Christmas Traditions: FranceDid you know that instead of hanging up a stocking for Santa Claus, children in France often leave shoes out by the fireplace for le Père Noël to fill? Around the holidays, French bakeries are busy making Galette des Rois or King’s Cake. The puff pastry cake is filled with frangipane or almond paste to be enjoyed around Epiphany on January 6. That date is also known as Twelfth Night, to close the twelve days of Christmas. The Galette des Rois traditionally had a lucky bean hidden inside it. Over the centuries that changed to a little charm. If you are served the slice with the charm in it, then you are crowned King for the Day!

Old World Christmas Traditions in England

Mince pies: Old World Christmas traditions

It isn’t an English Christmas without a plate of mince pies! The pies are filled with mincemeat — despite the savory-sounding name the tarts are actually a dessert treat. The mincemeat is a sweet blend of dried fruits, spices, and usually a hearty dash of brandy or rum.

Robin and mince pieThe photo of the robin taking a nibble of a mince pie is just so cute, but also the robin is symbolic of Christmas in England. You often see robins on Christmas cards there. European robins are much smaller than our American ones, and they have a deep red breast. Some say the robin’s red breast is associated with the blood of Christ. Others tell the nativity tale, where the night of the holy birth was so cold in the Bethlehem stable that Mother Mary asked the animals to help warm baby Jesus as the fire near the manger started to die out. Then Mary heard the flapping of wings and looked down to see a tiny plain brown bird fanning his wings at the fading embers, till the fire burst up brightly again to warm the Christ child. In the process, a flame burned the robin’s breast a vivid red, the color it has been ever since.

Old World Christmas traditions: Christmas crackersChristmas crackers are also essential to English celebrations. They are ‘cracked’ before Christmas dinner begins, by one person pulling on each end. The cracker splits apart with a bang, and a trinket, a joke, and a paper hat fall out. You often see Christmas crackers in American stores now too. It’s important to realize that you don’t expect the joke to be very good. It’s usually some kind of groaner!

Old World Christmas Traditions in Italy

Old World Christmas traditions: PanettonePanettone is one of the most delicious Italian Christmas treats. The light and fluffy sweetened fruit bread is shaped like a tall puffy chimney. It originated in Milan and some say its long history stretches back as far as Ancient Rome. Panettone appeared in a 16th century Bruegel painting, and was baked for emporers and popes!

Panettone is tasty on its own, usually served with sweet wine or liqueur. You can also make a quick and sophisticated dessert dish by toasting slices of Panettone, and topping them with a fruit compote. Make a compote with frozen or fresh fruit cooked with a little sugar and water, plus some cornstarch to thicken the syrup if needed. Any fruit will work, but frozen mixed summer berries add a festive splash of color and the tart flavor complements the sweet bread. Pears poached in wine would be wonderful too! Then sprinkle some snowy confectioners sugar on top and add a dollop of whipped cream.

Children shepherdsAnother sweet Old World Christmas tradition: Italian children dress up head-to-toe as shepherds when they go carol-singing. Bless them! Then on Christmas Eve, Italian households bring out the Urn of Fate. The Urn of Fate is a large bowl that holds lots of small presents.  Family members take it in turn to take their chance in a kind of lucky dip.

Do you have any favorite Old World Christmas traditions that you enjoy in your family? Tell us about it in the comments box below.

Aimee owns EuroLuxAntiques.com with her husband and best friend, Greg.  Aimee sources amazing antique furniture, vintage lighting, & high-quality reproduction furniture to help her customers decorate their homes in a unique way.  She loves her 8 (you read that right) fuzzy children and is renovating a 1920s bungalow in South Carolina. Connect with or you can sign up here to receive this blog in your inbox.

Best of November 2013: Holiday Gifts, Folk Art & French Inspirations

We wish you a wonderful Thanksgiving! Don’t forget that our 20% discount on everything in our EuroLuxAntiques.com inventory continues until December 3, and we include free shipping too – just as we always do. Now there’s a holiday gift to make Santa smile! Simply enter the coupon code at checkout: HappyHolidays

This month on the blog I’ve enjoyed getting my fix of French inspirations, writing about Beaujolais Nouveau Day for starters! At this time of year Greg and I are far too busy to take one of our antiques buying trips to France. We’re a regular Santa’s workshop here, packing up all the orders for holiday gifts. I’m also on the phone a lot, talking with our customers about their selections, especially with the fine antique furniture. They want to be sure they’ve found the perfect match for their home and I want the same thing.

Maybe we should wear Santa hats!  I’ll try to talk Greg into that. Meanwhile, let’s revisit some of our most popular November posts.

Château de Bagnols fireplaceChâteau de Bagnols in France was built in the 13th century, but now it’s a castle hotel where anyone can stay. After a $16 million restoration it is kitted out with stunning interiors, including tons of original antiques. The grounds are as gorgeous as the inside of the castle, with medieval towers, formal French gardens and a 100-year old lime tree terrace. See a panoramic view of the castle and more inspiring rooms in my Château de Bagnols post.

Antique chinese screen over the mantel
Our client Chris is retiring with her husband to a new house. Chris wanted a large and unique piece to decorate the mantel in the new living room. She chose a 1900 Late Qing Dynasty Chinese window screen. The folk art screen is ornately hand-carved with symbols of good fortune and prosperity. We hope those good fortune symbols are lucky charms for Chris and her husband as they enjoy their retirement! See more photos and what all the carved symbols mean in our client spotlight on the antique Chinese folk art screen.
holiday gift ideas: antique French clockCheck out my holiday gifts suggestions post if you’re looking for unique gift ideas for your loved ones. Or even if you are just taking advantage of our 20% discount for new additions to your own home. You’ll find even more ideas in our recent EuroLux Antiques newsletter. While we’re best known for our “fine antiques for regular folks” we also carry some unusual and exquisite home decor accents in the gallery, as well as newly-made, antique-inspired furnishings.
Oysters and Bloody MaryWe can’t wait to enjoy my Uncle Dick’s Famous Bloody Mary as part of our family Thanksgiving feast! It’s usually served with our appetizer of oysters on the half shell. Next day we relish yet more oysters when my grandmother Elsie dishes up her traditional delicacy: Elsie’s Oyster Stew. If your mouth is watering as much as mine is, I shared the family’s culinary secrets in my Bloody Mary and Oyster Stew recipes post!
Happy Thanksgiving!

 Aimee owns EuroLuxAntiques.com with her best friend, Greg.  Aimee sources amazing antique furniture, vintage lighting, & high-quality reproduction furniture to help her customers decorate their homes in a unique way.  She loves her 8 (you read that right) fuzzy children and is renovating a 1920s bungalow in South Carolina. Connect with or you can sign up here to receive this blog in your inbox.

Castle Vacation: Château de Bagnols

A few months ago I blogged about French castle hotels. These centuries-old châteaux offer a unique vacation experience and you find them all over France. As we just mentioned Beaujolais Nouveau Day, I couldn’t resist telling you about another French castle you can stay in: Château de Bagnols. Built in the 13th century, it overlooks the Beaujolais valley and it’s one of the grandest 5 star French castle hotels, with stunning interiors.

Bagnol outside

A vineyard was added to Château de Bagnols in 1820 and it’s still surrounded by vines and gorgeous formal French gardens. Over the centuries, different owners have added to Château de Bagnols, but it was in pretty poor shape until a 1987 renovation. The English Lady Hamlyn spent more than $16 million restoring it to its glory! It boasts medieval towers, a moat, original frescoes, an outdoor heated Roman swimming pool, and a 100-year old lime tree terrace.

Château de Bagnols fireplace

The rooms are furnished with original antiques, like many other French castle hotels. And as you can see from the photos, the Château de Bagnols offers luxury all the way! Not many of us have a living room with such exceptional architecture, but we can all take inspiration from the decor style. The welcoming nature of this room is enhanced by warm red upholstery and dark wood furniture. Just a lamp, vase of flowers, a decorative bowl, and a few favorite books on the table create a pleasing vignette.

Château de Bagnols bedroom

This bedroom makes great use of an arched alcove.  Imagine how cozy it would be, nestled into that bed under the crimson velvet bedspread! This is actually a former chapel dedicated to St. Hieronymus, and the wall paintings were created in the 1620s. Up-lighting adds to the atmosphere. You could recreate that intimate mood with wall sconces or Dale Tiffany torchiere lamps.

Château de Bagnols bedroom This delightful boudoir was once the command point for the 15th century drawbridge! The yellow damask hangings on the Louis XVI style bed adds to the glow of the fireplace. This bedroom is also furnished with a 19th century carved Henry II style chair, similar to some of the Henry II French Renaissance chairs in our gallery.

Château de Bagnols has 22 rooms and suites and the listed historic castle is about a 30-minute drive from Lyon. Previous guests at the castle include King Charles VIII, who stayed in 1490. The Treasurer of France lived there during the 17th Century. Madame de Sévigné, famous for her witty letters, visited in 1673. So if you take a trip to Beaujolais and stay at Château de Bagnols, you’ll be in good company!

Aimee owns EuroLuxAntiques.com with her best friend, Greg.  Aimee sources amazing antique furniture, vintage lighting, & high-quality reproduction furniture to help her customers decorate their homes in a unique way.  She loves her 8 (you read that right) fuzzy children and is renovating a 1920s bungalow in South Carolina. Connect with or you can sign up here to receive this blog in your inbox.

 

Celebrating Beaujolais Nouveau Day!

Beaujolais Nouveau Day is around the corner, on November 21, 2013. That’s the day that this year’s Beaujolais Nouveau wines are released and festivals and events take place across Europe and in U.S. cities from Boston to Seattle.

Beaujolais Nouveau Day The French are protective about their wine. In fact, it’s written into French law that each year’s Beaujolais Nouveau cannot be released until exactly 12:01 am on the third Thursday of November!

The event is marked in France by fireworks and celebrations. For decades, vintners have raced to be the first to get their Beaujolais Nouveau wines on the tables of restaurants in Paris. Later, the race extended across the channel to London. Now it seems like it’s one big world-wide sprint to get the bottles out to all corners, so wine revelers can cheer: “Le Beaujolais Nouveau est arrivé!”

Beaujolais Nouveau Day Poster
The timing is great for American Thanksgiving Day, as Beaujolais Nouveau is said to pair well with turkey. Hats off to the French for their canny marketing techniques! A century ago, the wine, made of hand-picked Gamay grapes, was just a humble table wine made by Beaujolais locals for their own enjoyment, to celebrate the end of the harvest. Now it’s an international star. The young wine is generally best enjoyed by the May of the following year.

Whether you like Beaujolais Nouveau or prefer a more mature wine, we think any excuse for a celebration is good enough. So you can always get in the spirit by raising a glass of your favorite Napa Valley red in honor of Beaujolais Nouveau Day!

Woodbridge Bar StoolWhile we’re talking about wine, I had to share a photo of this new wine glass bar stool that is in our gallery, because the cut-out design on the back is so charming and clever. It’s perfect for a wine celebration or for a wine-lover’s home! Crafted by Woodbridge Furniture Company, the solid wood bar stool has a hand-rubbed and waxed distressed finish, so it looks like it could have come from an old Parisian bistro or wine bar. (We have this design in a counter-height stool too.)

Although I appreciate wine, I doubt that Beaujolais Nouveau will be on our Thanksgiving table. Greg and I will be enjoying Uncle Dick’s Famous Bloody Mary recipe, as you can see in my earlier post!

Ambella Home Enoteca Wine CabinetBut I know that many of our customers are real wine connoisseurs. I would love to have a large enough wine collection to take advantage of this incredible new Ambella Home Enoteca bar cabinet. (We recently added the Ambella Home Collection line of furniture to our gallery, as the quality, design, and craftsmanship meet our high standards!) The 8-foot-tall bar features tons of wine cradles, storage cabinets, and racks to hang stemware.

French Wine Server

 

 

I think this new, reproduction French server/sideboard with a built-in wine rack is more my size! With the whitewash finish on the wood and a lovely limestone tile top, the server looks as if it would be quite at home in a French farmhouse in wine country.

All this talk of wine has made me thirsty! A votre santé! If you celebrate Beaujolais Nouveau Day, we’d love to hear how you do it. Tell us in the comments box below.

Aimee owns EuroLuxAntiques.com with her best friend, Greg.  Aimee sources amazing antique furniture, vintage lighting, & high-quality reproduction furniture to help her customers decorate their homes in a unique way.  She loves her 8 (you read that right) fuzzy children and is renovating a 1920s bungalow in South Carolina. Connect with or you can sign up here to receive this blog in your inbox.

French Castle Hotels: Live the Legend

View from Château d'Esclimont French castle hotelDo you enjoy visiting historic castles? Then why not go one step further on your next trip to France and stay in one of the many French castle hotels? These centuries-old castles offer a truly legendary experience as well as the chance to indulge your inner knight or princess! Many French castle hotels are family-run, and each one is unique. Rooms tend to be traditionally decorated with antique furniture and period details. The gardens are often gorgeous and you know the restaurant food will be fit for a king!

You can find a château to call home (at least for the night) in every French region. Castle Hotels of France is a helpful site to search, and the Bienvenue au Château organization is another great resource to find French castle hotels and other stately mansions. You don’t usually have to pay a king’s ransom. Room rates vary but are often very competitive with an ordinary hotel.

Here are some examples of French castle hotels that look pretty tempting to us…

Château des Réaux French castle hotelBuilding started at the Château des Réaux in 1435 on the site of an even older fortress in the Loire valley. It’s about 3 hours drive from Paris. The Renaissance castle is surrounded by a moat and gardens, and the five guest rooms include one with stained-glass windows. Another guest room is decked out with a hunting theme.


Château d'Esclimont is a fairytale French castle hotelChâteau d’Esclimont
is a fairytale château complete with turrets, a moat, and stone bridges. Built in 1543 by Etienne de Poncher, archbishop of Tours, the castle is set in 150 lush acres, less than an hour from Paris. The Renaissance château is handily situated as it’s midway between the Palace of Versailles and Chartres cathedral. That’s assuming you can ever bear to leave the grounds!

Château d'Esclimont French castle hotel suiteThis suite at the Château d’Esclimont is beautifully decorated with a dazzling chandelier and floral drapes and bed linens.

Château d'Esclimont

If you can tear yourself away from your room to visit the hotel restaurant, you can see that the attention to period detail is just as lovely. As mentioned in our previous client spotlights on red dining rooms, red always looks inviting, It stimulates appetite and conversation too. At the hotel, the red paneled walls are richly accented by the gilt chandelier.

Chateau de Montvillargenne French castle hotelChâteau de Montvillargenne claims to be the largest French castle hotel, with 120 guest rooms. Although not as old as some châteaux, it’s pretty spectacular! Built in 1900 by Baroness Jeanne Léonino de Rothschild, the Norman-style château is set in 15 acres of parkland in Chantilly, about 20 miles north of Paris. The four star hotel rooms include the pyramid-shaped Egyptian Prestige Room, decorated with reproductions of Egyptian treasures you can see in the Louvre.

We always enjoy our buying trips to France and we know many of our customers love visiting France too. Tell us in the comments box below if you’ve ever stayed in a French castle hotel, or if it’s on your bucket list!

Aimee owns EuroLuxAntiques.com with her best friend, Greg.  Aimee sources amazing antique furniture, vintage lighting, & high-quality reproduction furniture to help her customers decorate their homes in a unique way.  She loves her 8 (you read that right) fuzzy children and is renovating a 1920s bungalow in South Carolina. Connect with or you can sign up here to receive this blog in your inbox!

Palace of Versailles Historic Interiors

I blogged earlier this month about a Louis XIV armoire formerly owned by late movie critic Gene Siskel. The walnut armoire dates to 1710 and is currently for sale in our gallery. That got me thinking about Louis XIV who was on the throne of France at the time this antique armoire was crafted. One of the greatest achievements of Louis XIV, also known as the Sun King, is the fabulous Château de Versailles or Palace of Versailles in France.

Greg and I loved our trip to the Palace of Versailles and fondly remember promenading through the Hall of Mirrors.

Palace of Versailles Hall of Mirrors

You can see why it’s called the Hall of Mirrors! The Château was originally a hunting lodge for King Louis XIII. But it was his son, Louis XIV who expanded it and transformed it into a beautiful palace. He moved the entire court and government from Paris to Versailles in 1682, and the Hall of Mirrors was the place where Louis XIV impressed guests with his opulent display of royal power and wealth.
Marie Antionette Gilded Study Palace of Versailles

The Palace of Versailles remained the center of political power until the French Revolution in 1789, during the reign of Louis XIV’s descendent King Louis XVI and his wife Queen Marie Antoinette. This is the Gilded Study or Le Cabinet Doré. It’s the private chamber where Marie Antoinette played music and relaxed with her children and friends. The room was decorated this way in 1783, and contains items owned by Marie Antoinette including a Sevres vase and a Riesener chest of drawers.

 

 

The Palace of VersaiPalace of Versailles Queen's Chamberlles is a visual feast, as you can tell by this picture of the Queen’s Chamber. It’s a perfect example of the Palace’s lavish design. Just imagine: all the ornate embroidery on those tapestries and canopy would have been stitched by hand. With the golden textiles and gilding shimmering all over the room, you wonder how anyone could sleep in there at all! Those guys didn’t believe in understatement, did they?

We know many of our customers are keen travelers to Europe, so if you’re heading to France this year, the Palace of Versailles is well worth a visit, just a short hop southwest of Paris.

Aimee owns EuroLuxAntiques.com with her best friend, Greg.  Aimee sources amazing antique furniture, vintage lighting, & high-quality reproduction furniture to help her customers decorate their homes in a unique way.  She loves her 8 (you read that right) fuzzy children and is renovating a 1920s bungalow in South Carolina. Connect with or you can sign up to receive this blog in your inbox!

Bookshelf: Napkin Folding, Soups & More

Part of what I love about living with antiques is the innate sense of history each piece embodies. And nowhere is this more evident than with antique or vintage French Country kitchen furniture. When I sit down at my antique kitchen table, I can almost feel the original owners gathered around, the entire family enjoying a bowl of the classic French pot au feu. Who knows how many generations ate this hearty stew and drank wine together at this very table? I love France, and my antique dining table connects me with those wonderful people on a soulful level.

So I was delighted to discover a trio of new books from Robert Rose publishing that will help you enjoy your antique furnishings during this holiday season. Two are cookbooks and one teaches you how to create elegant napkin folds — perfect for any occasion, and particularly appropriate for those planning a Victorian Christmas. Let’s dive right in!

Top 100 Step-by-Step Napkin Folds

This delightful book by Denise Vivaldo takes you through all kinds of fun and pretty napkin folds with skill levels that range from easy to challenging. Vivaldo has catered everything from the Academy Awards Governor’s Ball to Hollywood wrap parties, so she knows her stuff. The book is helpfully wire-bound so you can set it flat right next to you as you walk through the steps to create each napkin fold.

Napkin folding is kind of a lost art, yet it will make your family members and friends feel very special to sit down at a place setting that includes a folded napkin. And your holiday dinners will feel even fancier with the simple touch of a folded napkin.

In the book, Vivaldo also discusses how to choose the right napkins for any occasion, what to look for in terms of fabric (to make folding work better), and what size napkin to use for various occasions (think: cocktail napkins, luncheon napkins, dinner napkins, and even paper napkins). This is a book that will reside on your bookshelf for years to come, as you discover the fun of napkin folding.

I thought this “orchid fold” would look particularly lovely on a Victorian Christmas table. Email me for a full-size version of the photo you can print out and keep! (Note: All photos and recipes courtesy www.robertrose.ca.)

Orchid Napkin Fold Directions from EuroLux Antiques.jpg (5.19 mb)

150 Best Grilled Cheese Sandwiches

Do you sometimes feel overwhelmed by the volume of cooking involved in the holidays? I know I do. So, I was pleased to discover this book of delicious (and simple!) grilled cheese sandwiches. Written by Alison Lewis, a nationally known recipe developer, 150 Best Grilled Cheese Sandwiches includes selections that range from humble to decadent.

A little history (because antiquers always love history!): The grilled cheese sandwich dates back to about 1920. It became popular during the Great Depression as an inexpensive company supper dish and was often called the “Cheese Dream.”

If you picture the grilled cheese sandwich of your childhood and can’t stomach even the thought of the calorie load, you’ll be happy to learn Lewis’s book includes tips on how to lighten-up a grilled cheese sandwich (hint: use grainy mustards and Greek yogurt) and devotes an entire chapter to light and healthy sandwiches.

Grilled cheese sandwiches are enjoying a huge resurgence and were recently named a major trend in cooking. These sandwiches can be fun to prepare with guests, and you can even create dessert sandwiches!

One of our favorites to help us get out of the holiday turkey rut is this decadent-looking Grilled Roast Beef and Stilton sandwich.

Grilled Roast Beef and Stilton
Serves 4

You’ll need: a panini grill or large skillet. Preheat panini grill to medium, if using.

  • 8 slices whole wheat bread
  • 1/4 cup butter or margarine, softened
  • 1/4 cup mayonnaise or basil aioli
  • 12 oz thinly sliced roast beef
  • 1 cup arugula leaves
  • 2 tomatoes, thinly sliced
  • 1 cup crumbled Stilton cheese (or your favorite blue cheese)
  1. Brush one side of each bread slice with butter. Place on a work surface, buttered side down. Spread 4 bread slices equally with mayonnaise. Top equally with roast beef, arugula, tomatoes and cheese. Cover with remaining bread slices, buttered side up, and press together gently.
  2. Place sandwiches on preheated panini grill or in a large skillet over medium heat and cook, turning once if using a skillet, for 3 to 4 minutes or until golden brown and cheese is melted. Serve immediately.

300 Sensational Soups

Getting back to that pot au feu I mentioned earlier… With their classic beef stew, the French knew this truism: A good soup nourishes the heart as well as the stomach. This fabulous soup cookbook by Carla Snyder and Meredith Deeds will keep your family warm all winter. When you share the sublime soup recipes in this book, you’ll connect with friends and family members on an intimate level.

Vegetarians and vegans will be happy to know the book contains plenty of meat-free selections. There’s even a classic pot au feu recipe! But I loved this decadent lobster chowder recipe because I think it would make a beautiful first course for any holiday dinner.

Rich Lobster and Roasted Corn Chowder
Serves 6

Preheat oven to 425F. You’ll also need a large rimmed baking sheet.

  • 3 cups corn kernels (fresh or thawed frozen)
  • 1 1/2 Tbl olive oil
  • 1 tsp salt, divided
  • 1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper, divided
  • 4 slices bacon, chopped
  • 2 cups chopped onions
  • Pinch cayenne pepper
  • 1 lb boiling potatoes, peeled and diced
  • 3 cups chicken stock
  • 2 cups clam juice
  • 1 1/2 cups whipping cream
  • 2 Tbl unsalted butter
  • 3 cooked lobster tails (each about 10 oz), meat removed and cut into bite-sized chunks
  • 3 Tbl chopped fresh chives
  1. On a baking sheet, combine corn, oil, 1/2 tsp of the salt and 1/4 tsp of the black pepper; toss to coast evenly and spread in a single layer. Roast in preheated oven for 10 minutes. Stir and redistribute into an even layer. Roast until corn is lightly but evenly browned, 10 to 15 minutes. Remove from oven and set aside.
  2. In a large pot, saute bacon over medium heat until browned and crispy, about 5 minutes. Remove with a slotted spoon to a plate lined with paper towels. Set aside.
  3. Pour off all but 2 tbsp of the fat in the pot. Add onions and saute until lightly browned, about 10 minutes. Add cayenne and saute for 1 minute. Add potatoes, stock, clam juice, and the remaining salt and pepper; bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer for 15 minutes. Stir in roasted corn and cream; return to a simmer, stirring often, until potatoes are tender, about 5 minutes. Do not let boil.
  4. In a large, heavy skillet, melt butter over medium heat. Add lobster meat and saute until heated through, about 1 minute.
  5. Ladle chowder into heated bowls and top with lobster. Garnish with reserved bacon and chives.

I hope you enjoy these recipes and the napkin-folding instructions and can use these ideas for your holiday entertaining — and the cold weeks ahead! These three books from Robert Rose will make a welcome addition to your antique French Country kitchen bookshelf. (Note: We are not affiliated with Robert Rose in any way.)

What elegant, decadent, or surprising dishes do you make during the holidays? Do you salute your ethnicity through food? Please share with us in the comments!

 Aimee owns EuroLuxAntiques.com with her best friend, Greg.  Aimee sources amazing antique furniture, vintage lighting, & high-quality reproduction furniture to help her customers decorate their homes in a unique way.  She loves her 8 (you read that right) fuzzy children and is renovating a 1920s bungalow in South Carolina.  Connect with or sign up to receive this blog in your inbox!

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