Country French Antiques and a Timeless Lifestyle
Long ago on one of my early buying trip to the South of France in search of Country French antiques, I was introduced to talented young lady named Brigitte who spoke good English ~ which was a rarity in those days. After we got to know each other she graciously invited me to her family home, and being new to the French Provençal experience, I jumped at the chance.
It was the summer in Provence and after taking small and winding road, which meandered up a rocky hill, we suddenly saw the farmhouse~ awash with warm ochre-colored stucco walls and adorned with bright blue shutters over an ivy-covered façade. As I entered the home I was immediately charmed by what I have since learned to know and love ~ the Country French interior. The furniture was elegant yet simple, creating a welcoming ambiance with antiques exuding the warm glow of rich, honey-toned patinas acquired through the centuries. Brigitte proceeded to show me around her ancestral home, telling me the stories behind each and every piece of French antique furniture that her family loved and cherished for generations.
The spacious kitchen, which was open to the living room, housed the most impressive piece of all ~ a massive Country French armoire. Brigitte explained that this beautiful armoire had been in her family since the 18th century, and that a small dent on the side was made during the French Revolution by one of the careless revolutionaries traveling through their village over 200 years ago. As we proceeded, each room revealed a discovery of timeless treasures of Country French antiques and furniture that were acquired by her ancestors. My host further explained that local artisans hand-crafted the Louis XV style 18th century Country French commode from walnut trees grown in the region. After the enlightening tour of this amazing home we ventured out onto the shady terrace surrounded by a rambling garden filled with olive trees, rosemary, lavender, and vegetables of all kinds.
The warm summer breeze was rustling the leaves of fruit trees near the limestone-covered terrace with sunlight peaking through the canopy. Before us was a rustic Country French farm table, stripped of its original finish by Father Time. It was covered with a veritable feast, resplendent with local Provençal gastronomy. We thoroughly enjoyed a delicious meal overflowing with conversation, food and wine for at least three hours, although it seemed like much less time had actually passed.
"Nothing ever becomes real till it is experienced", said John Keats around the turn of the 19th century. My first memorable encounter with the warm and engaging villagers of rural France taught me more about the life and essence of Country French style than any history book ever could. It sparked an appreciation and understanding of the exuberant and lyrical essence of all things Country French~ its antiques, its heritage, its beauty and its long cultural legacy.
About the Author
Inessa Stewart has parlayed her talent and knowledge of antiques and design into becoming one of the most significant resources for French, Italian, and Continental European antiques. Her exceptional expertise and European background are immediately evident in the style and quality of the antiques she offers in her three gorgeous showrooms.
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