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La Maison: French Market Baskets | Paniers

11.12.2012








French markets often come adorned with the ubiquitous straw panier, sold by local artisans and carried around by shoppers young and old. Around forever ago, my husband recalls having gypsies sell skillfully crafted baskets door-to-door in his neighborhood when he was a young boy. Baskets were also the only vessel to hold and carry household supplies in his grandmother's farmhouse: sturdier ribbed baskets for firewood and dishes, woven wickerwork baskets for bread and produce. Back then, they weren't fashionable accessories, but a French way of life.

Over the years, the variety of paniers has expanded and evolved to include stunning color combinations and a bewildering array of shapes, sizes, trims - many with fancy braided handles and creative enclosures. On a recent buying trip I was so overwhelmed by the number of choices that I called for help from my French shopping partner, Florence. Like a seasoned professional, she first asked me how I would be using the basket and what, if any, was my color preference. She showed me, for example, why some baskets were impractical for markets (i.e. too bulky, too stiff, improper handles for conveniently putting over your shoulder) and which were ideal (double length handles with metal reinforcements). I ended up picking up a sturdy colorful striped basket with a cloth drawstring that protects its contents (to hold my newspapers and magazines) and another, my all-time favorite - the classic slightly tapered natural-colored weave with short leather handles (as a catch-all in my entryway)...

Today French market baskets are widely available online and at stateside chain stores as well as local markets. Practical, durable and all natural they make the perfect home accessory. I use several around the house and find they add a natural easy elegance to interiors, are timeless in their design, and best of all they remain beautiful brand new or magnificently worn...

7 comments

  1. I love all the richness of variety, shapes, textures, and colors on display...Your photos are so beautiful & tactile, makes me want to reach out and grab one (or all) of those baskets!

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  2. Oh the art of paniers. Thank you for sharing, Catherine. It's good to know about the various types that work for different situations and needs. If I could collect all of these baskets, I so would! What a gorgeous collection of basket still lifes! I also like the image with the strappy sandals and the colorful baskets--a creative juxtaposition:)

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    Replies
    1. Thanks Charmaine! I so agree with you, they're certainly enchanting these paniers! And it was interesting having someone "teach" me about them... (especially since our instinct is to simply pick up the ones we think are pretty :)

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    2. I am Moroccan artisan weaver. My production is destined to export. I want to see you among my clients ..
      Here is my e-mail.aragrim@yahoo.fr
      Thank you very much for your urgent reply
      Best regards.
      Ahmed Fikri

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  3. Thanks Sarah! You know, I actually found a couple of websites that carry them: http://www.french-baskets.com

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