We are tootling around rural Normandy this week. Famous for its unique half timbered architecture and its regional drink called calvados, a distilled apple brandy, this region is a favorite at French Metro Antiques.
One little gem is Honfleur. This picturesque Norman port town possesses a je ne sais quoi that makes it irresistible. The changing light on the Seine estuary inspired Courbet, Monet, Boudin and many others. Today dozens of galleries and artists' studios continue to display a wide choice of classical and modern paintings. And of course the seafood or fruits de mer is delicious.
Another hidden spot is Martainville-Epreville, a suburb of Rouen, and the town where Flaubert’s Madame Bovary languished. It houses the Martainville castle and an excellent museum on Norman Popular Arts and Traditions where you can find a beautiful collection of antique Norman furniture. Each region of France has its own distinct style of furniture, and Normandy is no exception.
Elaborate carving is a distinctive feature of Norman furniture pieces, especially in the region's most representative piece, the armoire. Themes of love and prosperity were widely used in the 18th and 19th centuries with hearts, arrows, and lovebirds conveying the former, while cornucopia, grapes, wheat sheaves, and flowers symbolized the latter. Other typical designs included acanthus leaves, geometric patterns, farm implements, musical instruments, and anchors. Here are few Normandy pieces currently in our shop.
Surprisingly, only a few of the pieces we’ve found so far in this region are typical of Normandy…
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