New look at the French house
The shabby chic, Gallic charm of dove-grey furniture, old roses and ironwork furniture is encapsulated in a new book
French interiors and furniture have been desirable across the world for generations. In the 19th century it was all gilt ormolu and polished wood and classical empire style. Nowadays, it’s Louis XV style and country furniture painted dove grey or peeling shabby chic.
French style has been appropriated by the Americans and English, and even the Russians, who have interpreted it in different ways. There are hundreds of books about creating the look, but often on their glossy pages some of the Gallic eccentricity has been taken out. French Flair is a book that shows French taste put together with true Gallic nonchalance by French people. It also makes a great guide for anyone driving through France.
Included are wonderful places to stay or to shop for vintage and antique sur-Oise, where Van Gogh and Monet painted. Florence, the owner, has furnished the rooms with bare boards and antique painted furniture.
In the Gard region, meanwhile, we are invited to appreciate the dream home of ex-model Anna, and Olivier, a photographer. They found a crumbling, derelict house in the remote village of Aigaliers and set about restoring it, doing all the work themselves. It’s called Les Sardines aux Yeux Bleus and is now open to guests. The decor is simple, clean and colourful with pink walls, white painted daybeds and ticking stripes and old linen.
It’s reassuring to know that those typically French seaside hotels and bed and breakfasts that so many of us can remember from 30 years ago still exist. But new owners have taken over and the look is no longer dark with heavy wood furniture and cretonne covers and an extra charge for the bath.
At the tip of Cap Ferret on the Atlantic coast, Yamina Lodge is run by surfer and artist Pascalou, who has infused her bed and breakfast with hippy chic – a style that blends the surfing spirit with just a hint of Buddhism.
At Cancale, Olivier Roellinger has a clapboard hotel and guest cottages among the pine trees privet and gorse filled with light and views of Mont St Michel. I am already folding down the seats of my car and looking at the map.
French Flair: Modern Vintage Interiors by Sébastien Siradeau is published by Flammarion, priced £30.
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