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Tableware with a taste of rural France

Gallic charm for the home and the table

Tableware with a taste of rural France

Image: Ted Humble-Smith @ Hmmm...

November 16 2009
Lucia van der Post

Christmas, I always think, isn’t the time for the edgy or the avant-garde. It’s a festival that connects us in a profound way with all those who have gone before us, and its roots lie deep in history, which is why it seems out of kilter with the mood of the season to try anything too startlingly original or quirky. It always makes me want to steer strongly in the direction of the classic, the elegant and the slightly nostalgic.

Which is where Lavender & Sage comes in. Lavender & Sage has homed in on a distinctly romantic view of French provincial life. I’m not too sure how many homes in La France profonde are quite so charmingly got up, but never mind – if we feel that a little rustic Gallic charm could cheer up the house and table come Christmas time, Lavender & Sage can provide it.

What first caught my eye was the photograph of the beautiful white lace-edged tablecloth that arrived in my in-box. It emerges that it’s called Grand-mere – very evocative – and it looks as if it came straight from some charming Gallic attic. It comes in two sizes, rectangular (140cm x 240cm) and square (180cm x 180cm), and what seems absolutely mysterious to me is that in spite of being gorgeous, hand-made and hand-embroidered, they’re reduced in price, being £62.60 and £47.50 respectively. If your table is much bigger, buy two and sew them together. Plain white embroidery-edged linen napkins are £4 each.

Almost everything Lavender & Sage sells is made by artisans working in small ateliers all over France. The look, as you will have gathered, is rather more enchanting bastide than grand château, but no less delightful for that.

Besides the cloths, it offers some classically French crockery that goes by the name of Leontine – nice and creamy, with scalloped edges; not quite as beautiful as Astier de Villatte’s, but at much gentler prices (£9.50 for a dinner plate, £7.25 for side plates and dessert bowls). If you like charger plates, they have them in pale green recycled glass (pictured) at £12.50 a time. Add some splendidly decorative glassware (keep the dead-plain Riedel for chic dinners) and go for the Mont Blanc ones (pictured) made from recycled glass but in an elegant elongated shape with a twisted stem (£14 each, or £82 for six). Etched “Charmille” water glasses in nicely sturdy shapes come in at £6.25 each. Finish off the look with some art nouveau-inspired cutlery. The Brasserie range (pictured) comes with black, ivory or red handles and a decorative antique-looking silver effect detail on the hinge (from £4.25 per piece). The Lavender & Sage range may not be for every day, but for occasions when something more decorative would seem to fit the bill, it could be worth a look – there you will find all the authentic props that remind one of sunny days in La France profonde.