French Antique Furniture

Wealthy Man Donates his Home to Catholic Charity.

In this current era of malignment towards the Catholic Church there is a fresh breathe of news that rarely gets reported on by the Media.

Why?  Because this story portrays the Church in a positive way. It’s hard to sensationalize which is what the Media thrives and sells advertising.

While the prices of villas are soaring on the coast, Yves Oriou  a Catholic man, donated Ker Coët, a 260 m2 house located in Pornichet (Loire-Atlantique), to Secours catholique. (Catholic Help Charity)

Needless to say, in the current real estate market, this type of property is particularly sought after and is worth a lot of money. However, its owner, Yves Oriou, has decided to donate it to Secours Catholique:(Catholic Charity).. the beautiful house will become a vacation home for families in needy situations.


Véronique Delbende, vice-president of the association in Loire-Atlantique, presents the project: “To recharge one’s batteries at the seaside, to get one’s head out of the water and escape from an often rather gloomy daily life, to offer young children vacation memories, Ker Coët will meet a need clearly identified by Secours Catholique and which is at the heart of our values: the right to a vacation for all.”


Then quickly dazzled, when on the spot we discover the building. Built in 1893, it was purchased in the 1910s by the great-grandparents of our donor who had the two towers built. Around 1950, it became a boarding house and was then divided into small units that were rented out cheaply during the vacations.

Yves Oriou told us that the house has always kept the family spirit alive.

A whole team of volunteers went to work to build this renovation project, which is also a first experience for the volunteers of Secours Catholique: on the three levels, six autonomous apartments will be fitted out, from studios to family housing, with an entrance and a common room.



The first one will be for a PMR (person with reduced mobility) apartment. The structure is in good condition but the plumbing, electricity, insulation and openings need to be replaced.

15 people can be accommodated

“The national headquarters of Secours Catholique supports our project, as does the Region. We also hope for help from the Department and the Agglomeration Community of the Saint-Nazaire region,” continues Véronique Delbende.

“We hope to reach out to local construction companies that could help us with materials and skills for this beautiful solidarity project.”

Thank you for reading my post.

Mark LaFleur



Who was Guillerme et Chambron?



The duo of Robert Guillerme and Jacques Chambron and their company, Votre Maison denote a landmark of French mid-century design history.

Robert Guillerme studied design and architecture at the École Boule, graduating first in his class in 1934. After the Second World War he moved to Lille, in the north of France, where he decorated homes and designed furniture for the well regarded Rogier workshops. Meanwhile, Jacques Chambron graduated from the School of Applied Arts in Reims.

The two met in 1940 while imprisoned by the Germans in East Prussia and bonded over, among other more obvious things, their shared passion for design. In 1948, Chambron left his work as a painter and decorator on the Rue Nollet in Paris, and relocated his family to join Guillerme. In 1949, the pair discovered Émile Dariosecq, a master cabinetmaker who had a shop in the city, and was willing to produce their designs. The three started Votre Maison. The association was destined to be as influential as prolific. Not only did Votre Maison produce over two thousand models during the latter half of the twentieth century, it also left an indelible stamp on the design of the 50s, 60s and 70s. The company’s output served as a model for a vast field of liveable contemporary design.

This corner sofa, C.1960 is available at the Antique Warehouse, Vancouver, B.C. Canada

The soul of Guillerme et Chambron’s work was in the company’s name (“Your House”). Their focus was as keenly attuned to functionality as to the creation of innovative design. For the pair of designers, the home was envisioned as a place where the family could live both comfortably and in aesthetic harmony. Robert Guillerme, who designed most of the work, possessed a limitless creative ambition, producing designs for everything from grand dressers and sideboards to the smallest elements of a space, such as pedestals, shelving, benches, and lighting. This steady output of beautiful furniture bucked convention not merely in the equal emphasis Guillerme placed on function and aesthetics, but in the almost paradoxical creation of a consistent style that was as staid as it was arresting. While his work was in many ways distinctively conservative and recognizable from project to project, both in form and in medium—his wood of choice, waxed oak, was often either lightened or darkened to the same few tones—Guillerme’s pieces also possessed an unusual flare. He incorporated elaborately detailed tiles and unusually bright fabrics, both of which could be used interchangeably in a variety of pieces.

Jacques Chambron focused on décor and client relationships. Working with stores and individuals alike, the decorator filled homes throughout Europe with small and intimate lines of furniture created to address each room’s particular and varied needs. He was a remarkably charismatic man, unusually befitted to the work, and amply capable of evangelizing Votre Maison’s unique and ground-breaking conception of décor. Together, they defined new furnishings concepts. Well-crafted chair backs, polished wood and thick cushions make the reputation of their armchairs and sofas. Votre Maison continued to produce furniture right into the 20th century, with Jacques’s son Hervé Chambron, a designer and graduate of the École Boulle, having taken the over in 1983.

Guillerme and Chambron’s furniture and design is highly sought after today and commands high prices on luxury websites like 1st. Dibs.

Thanks for reading,



Marie Antointettes Personal Theatre being Restored.

Marie Antoinette’s personal theatre is being restored to its former glory

The 241-year-old Petit Théâtre de la Reine, which only gives performances once every two years, is being lovingly restored by a conservation team at Versailles

Before the French Revolution that ultimately led to her untimely death, Marie Antoinette was a great lover of the dramatic arts. After her coronation in 1774, her husband, King Louis XVI, put the royal in charge of organising entertainment for the court and, it is said, the last Queen of France regularly put on plays in the gallery of the Grand Trianon and the orangery of the Petit Trianon.

Four years into her reign, however, she grew tired of the temporary stages that were knocked together for her performances. So, in 1778, Marie Antoinette commissioned architect Richard Mique to build her a real theatre.

Hidden away amidst the foliage of the Château de Versailles gardens, the Petit Théâtre de la Reine was completed in spring of 1780, and quickly became Marie Antoinette’s private refuge away from court protocol. It was here, in 1785, that she gave her own last performance on stage, as Rosine in The Barber of Seville in front of its author, Beaumarchais.

At the time of the Revolution, the theatre was deemed worthless and lay empty until Napoleon Bonaparte took possession of it in 1809, adding to its interior a neo-Roman imperial box in the shape of a military tent and new wallpaper adorned with his emblematic bees. Then came Louis-Philippe, who gave the theatre a new 19th-century red velvet look complete with crystal chandeliers, then Napoleon III and the Second Empire. Sadly, by the end of the Great War the theatre had fallen into a state of disrepair.


Who is Paul Sormani?

Paul Sormani…probably one of the most celebrated cabinet makers in France who wasn’t even French. In fact, Paul Sormani was Italian.

Paul Sormani (1817 – 1877) was a preeminent 19th Century Italian cabinetmaker (ébéniste) of the Lombard-Venetian origin.

Sormani moved to Paris and established his workshop there in 1847 and soon began producing high quality items of standard and ‘fantasy’ furniture, which he described as meubles de luxe (‘luxury furniture’). He specialised in reproducing Louis XV and XVI style pieces, which proved immensely popular with discerning European aristocracy. The Empress Eugenie, for example, who was wife of Emperor Napoleon III, chose to decorate her palaces with Sormani’s beautiful furniture.


Empress Eugenie, Wife of Napoleon III

Sormani frequently exhibited his impressive creations and was awarded prizes at all the major international exhibitions of the 1860s and 1870s. Notably, at the Parisian Exposition Universelle in 1867, judges described Sormani’s work as revealing “a quality of execution of the first order”.

On the Champs des Mars, stood the 1867 Exposition featuring all the latest technology of the era. Even the new ‘elevator’ was on display


A superior Paul Sormani Commode with Rouge de Rance marble and a coromandel Japanned front.

A superior writing desk by Paul Sormani, early 20th Century.

Once in a while, I discover hidden gems by dealers in France who don’t go the extra mile to find out exactly what they have. In the case of the small lady’s writing desk, (which I bought outside of Paris) the dealer had no desire to unlock the desk. He simply stated there’s no key and sold it to me accordingly.

Our Paul Sormani ladies writing desk C.1880’s.

Our little desk may not have all the gilt and glamor of some of Sormani’s pieces, but it isn’t priced accordingly either. If you’d like to have this lovely piece of cabinetmaking history, please contact the store.






While searching around the internet the other night I stumbled across an article written by a woman thats turned antiques into an online business. It’s called “The Find Antiques”.  She goes on to explain on how to integrate antiques into the modern day home without looking stuffy or dated.

While many local designers either don’t know how to do this, or simply don’t care, there are many skilled designers, particularly in the U.S. and Europe that do. Just pick up any Veranda magazine and you’ll see what I mean.

I have many clients complain that their designers are too controlling, and not considering their personal choices. In fact I had one young client who texted a photograph of an antique commode to her designer who nixed the idea but the lady went ahead and bought it anyway.

The lady called me later delighted with her purchase stating the commode absolutely made the room in her contemporary apartment and was so glad she went with her own idea rather than that of the designers. Case in point.

While I have many clients that refuse to buy anything new (other than a sofa or bed) for a multitude of reasons stemming from social consciousness to the pure quality of anything handcrafted 100 years ago, there are others that follow the shortsighted ‘modern only’ trend from what they see on reality TV shows and other forms of media.

“I created The Find Antiques because I want to challenge the stigma surrounding the word ‘antiques’ and all the negative connotations that it evokes in most people – the idea that it means outdated, stuffy, dark brown Victorian furniture, reminiscent of childhood or visiting your grandparents’ house,” says Danielle Rusko of her online business The Find Antiques.


Danielle Rusko (photographed with a sensational French Transitional Commode) owner of The Find Antiques.

It was after working at an antique store in Noosa, Australia, that Danielle was inspired to challenge the perception of antiques. “I want to show people that they needn’t be afraid of antiques as they are still quite functional in their use and not just as decorative items. It is not about having a house full of antiques anymore, but how one or two statement pieces can really add a touch of individualism and add depth and texture to a room,” says Danielle who has worn many hats throughout her career including a stint as an accountant in corporate finance and as a makeup artist (a hat she still wears today).

Beautiful little French Marquetry commode is used as a side table.

“I had been a lover and collector of antiques throughout my twenties and thirties and it was actually whilst stalking my favourite Instagram hashtag #antiques a couple of years ago that I really believed there was an opportunity to create an online store selling antiques,” says Danielle

A lovely little commode from France gives this modern bathroom some warmth and character

“There is no formula to how a room should look. By adding one or two antique or vintage pieces, you can really transform a space and create a romantic and eclectic fusion of interior design that is visually stimulating and appealing. It also helps the antique item by giving it a new lease of life when mixed with the modern and contemporary and creates a dynamic style and special synergy within the home,” says Danielle.

A gorgeous marquetry French Louis XV style bureau plat is featured in this photo.

“I think that we have become a little too seduced by what we see on some reality TV design shows and believe we can’t create a room based on our own style or budget without being ridiculed for it. I personally do not want to live in a ‘same, same’ environment where the interior of my house looks the same as next door,” says Danielle who ships Australia wide and is opening a retail space imminently. “I am in the process of creating my dream showroom in an industrial warehouse in Noosaville which will be a visual utopia of modern and antique,” she says.

Beautiful French Gold Gilt Mirror probably 19th Century gives a touch of bling and glamor to this room.

“When you can touch a piece and see the artistic skill of the marquetry inlay up-close or you open the drawer of a commode and the scent of old wood overwhelms you, that’s tangible. It is my aim to impart the history of craftsmanship, skill, survival and nostalgic stories of the past to evoke an emotional response and connection with the viewer,” says Danielle who will also use the retail space to illustrate how to blend the antique with the modern.

I’m completely in agreement with that. In fact when most of my clients examine the workmanship and quality that went into producing even a vintage piece they comment how the workmanship and quality could never be produced today for the price of an antique.

Danielle’s top five tips for merging antiques with a modern home:

  1. Don’t be afraid to create a relationship between the old and the new. It helps to bring out the personality of the antique and creates depth and texture to a room that can sometimes look too sterile.
  2. Most homes have that classic white wall and tiled flooring, so introducing antique cabinets or tables can really add character and personality to a room.
  3. Use simple form and rich materials in your choice of furniture to create consistency between the older and newer pieces. For example, satinwood is a timber regularly featured in antique furniture and is an great match to complement your more contemporary pieces.
  4. Use the piece in its functional capacity as it was designed to be used. Sometimes we can be a bit overwhelmed by its age and beauty that we forget antiques still have a practical use. It is hoped that as it has already survived this long with a bit of care and consideration that it will last another 100 or so years.
  5. Buy with your personality in mind. Antiques range from the exquisite to the quirky to the questionable – including their price point! Buy what feels right for you and resonates with your sense of style. You may like to start off with something small like a lamp or vase and gradually as you begin to become more confident you can incorporate larger more statement pieces, like a beautiful French commode.

Photography: Anastasia K Photographer and Hayley Jenkin of Wholehearted Studio

Coco Chanel? We’ve got the goods….literally.

Once in a lifetime a discovery like this happens to a dealer.

We’ve often discovered pieces in the store that have famous cabinetmakers marks- that’s always exciting. But to find a whole cache of furniture with a Provenance of international appeal is something very different.

This story begins with my Spring trip to Paris of 2019.

While poking around the cavernous subterranean dark and dank musty smelling lower levels of a well known professional antique dealer’s building full of less- than- above -board independent dealers, I discovered a room full of interesting, old and decorative furniture, unlike anything I had seen before.

There was a mix of everything from tables, cabinets, commodes. Pieces from the 1500’s to the Mid 20th Century.

When I showed some interest in the furniture the dealer mentioned they were owned by Coco Chanel. With scepticism, I bought the pieces anyway disregarding the alleged provenance and had everything shipped to Vancouver.

The day the shipment arrived I started looking at the tags that were affixed to the pieces many with labels referring to Chanel and various rooms and dates. Some back as far as the 1500’s.

I mentioned to Gareth, my manager that most of you know, that the dealer said all these pieces were once owned by Coco Chanel.

The probability of anything with this provenance ending up at the Antique Warehouse was so remote that neither of us gave it a second thought.

In any event, that evening I started researching residences of the famed Mdm. Chanel and discovered that in 1934 she had built a Villa in the South of France with her then-lover, The Duke of Westminster. I had known of her apartment on Rue Cambon, and also in the Ritz Hotel, (something I hope to have one day) but didn’t know she’d also owned a Villa.

The Villa was exhibited on many real estate websites and as I continued to browse more and more of our pieces began showing up in various rooms.

Bursting with excitement I texted Gareth at 10:30 at night and sent him links to the various rooms of the Villa. Neither of us could believe what we saw.

We actually had pieces from this important historical Villa with such a rich and fabulous provenance.



The story goes that in In 1934 Coco Chanel (Gabrielle) and the Duke of Westminster ( a notorious womaniser) met at a party in Monte Carlo and started an affair that lasted 10 years.

During this time, the Duke, being one of the richest men in the world bestowed gifts and precious jewels on his mistress Chanel one being a parcel of land near the border of Italy in Roquebrune Cap Martin. On this parcel Chanel built her villa and furnishied it with pieces of furniture given to her by the Duke, and purchases of her own. They built it carefully together importing only the best of everything for their romantic South of France home.

Much of the furniture were English period pieces from the 16th Century up to fine pieces of the late 19th and early 20th. The villa was host to some of the most famous literary and artists of their generation including Salvador Dali, Jean Cocteau, Pablo Picasso, Igor Stravinsky, Winston Churchill and more.




Dining chairs and table sold within the first week.



The same chairs that were in our store are clearly visible in the photo



Same table, but not as clearly visible in the photo above.



The bedroom of Winston Churchill where our two beautiful bombe commodes are clearly seen flanking the bed.



These two beautiful bombe commodes sold yesterday and will reside with all their amazing provenance in a local home in British Columbia.




If you look carefully you can see our settee and the blue chair on the left.



The settee is clearly visible and was probably 19th Century recovered in the mid 20th Century.

The immediate problem I had after the initial elation and exhuberation of the find, was what to price all these things for.  In actuality they belonged in a museum, or a private collection.

After all, these were owned by two very famous set of owners, Chanel who then sold the Villa to the Reves, ( a prominent publisher and author and his model wife), who were just as famous in their own right.

Both sets of owners entertained lavishly with some of  the worlds most famous people of their time.  Jacqueline Kennedy, Rose Kennedy, Princess Grace, Clarke Gable, Greta Garbo, the list goes on and on. But the most famous of all their guests was Sir Wintston Churchill.  He would stay for months on end with a whole private floor, a bedroom for his wife and one for his butler.

In a 2018 auction in Paris, items from Coco Chanels apartment at the Ritz commanded unprecedented prices unlike anything seen before.
In any event, this has been an exciting journey for me and the staff.

The most difficult part was how do we price these pieces?

With provenance like this, they really belong in a museum.

In fact, some pieces did go to a museum in Dallas Texas to be on display for all posterity.

The second owner’s widow died in 2015 and bequeathed her entire collection (rumor has it under influence of alcohol and pressure from the Dallas museum officials) of priceless Art and some of the furniture from the Villa. There is a 6 room replica of the Villa in the Dallas Museum filled with furniture and replicas they created.

She also bestowed most of her fortune to the Museum which was contested by her son.

In any event pieces have been flying out the door to collectors to people with a fascination of Gabrielle Chanel.

One day, I hope to discover a hidden masterpiece or Faberge egg on my hunts throughout Europe, but for the time being this has been pretty great.

Thanks for reading.




The Chocolate Wizard from Paris.

Im here in Paris for Easter and all the chocolate and pastry stores are laden with magnificent Easter creations for the Holiday.



Chocolate Eggs by the famous Pierre Herme, Paris.

It’s been said that pastry making requires a real talent and supercedes all of the culinary arts. Try recreating some of the fabulous French pastries you drool over in the windows of Parisian patisseries, and you’ll know what I mean.

Recently on one of my trips abroad the name Aumary Guichon popped up in conversation. Someone quickly searched him out on their iPad  and I was spellbound on what I saw. For the next 6 minutes or so I couldn’t take my eyes off the screen.




This stunning 19th Century Napoleon III table and antique gramophone is entirely made of chocolate. Every detail!



The young talent himself

One of the most influential talents of the international pastry scene, growing up in France but with an entirely planetary influence, the young Amaury Guichon looks for surprise and originality in his work. The quality and technical perfection of his desserts and pieces have earned him the acclaim of hundreds of thousands of followers in social networks. In his career he has earned the title of Best Apprentice in France, in addition to leading pastry shops as famous as Victor et Hugo (Paris), Lenotre (Cannes), and Jean Philippe Patisserie (Las Vegas). Currently, he is active as a private consultant.


2010 – One of the best apprentices in the Paris Region (MOF)
2012 – Lenotre School of Cannes
2013 – Head of product R & D Victor et Hugo (Paris)
2013-2017 – Jean Philippe Patisserie (Las Vegas)
2019 – Book ‘The Art of Flavor’

Guichon now resides in Las Vegas. They must be paying him a fortune for him to stand spending more than 48 hrs in that dreadful place. Anyway below are just a few of his magnificent creations.

I would have liked to post his magnificent creation called the Atlas Titan where Atlas is carrying the world on his back. Better yet search his out on You Tube and watch some of his many posted videos. They’re worth the watch.

Happy Easter.

Mark in Paris.

Buches de Noel from Paris 2018.

Its Christmas time again. The city of light lives up to it’s name with magnificently decorated windows and Christmas lights everywhere.   The two top department stores, Printemps and Galleries Lafayette always compete for top banana in the jaw dropping department.  Usually Galleries Lafayette win, but both put a lot of time and effort into their windows.

But what’s really fun and exciting are the Buches de Noel.  All the top Parisian pastry chefs work their magic and creativity goes into overdrive producing some of the most fabulous creations imaginable.

In case you’re wondering what a Buche de Noel is, it’s French for Yule log. French don’t do Christmas puddings. That’s an English thing.

But the French Buche Noel’s are spectacular. This year the top pastry chefs have outdone themselves again as you’d expect with some so beautiful I’d be hard pressed to actually cut into one. I’d rather preserve it forever in it’s beautiful form.

Below you’ll see only a few examples of whose done what this year.


From Cafe Pouchkine, a fabulous Russian patisserie introduced to me by one of my Parisian friends, comes this beautiful design called the Russian Cigarette.

Elegant but also gourmet; these five Russian cigarettes contain various textures and chords around a delicate and tasty combination of hazelnut, bergamot and chocolate.

This log for 6 to 8 people is on sale from December 14 at a price of 80 €. Unfortunately they don’t deliver to North America!


From the young and creative pastry team at the Le Georges Cinq come these whimsical giant chocolate pine cones on beds of white chocolate roses.  Again, could you really have the heart to destroy one of these by eating them? I wonder if those candles are edible too?

The Chef Pastry Chef of The Peninsula Paris, Dominique Costa, unveils his log “The Case” made of chocolate and mandarin – passion fruit. Looks like a giant fire-cracker to me.

This year, it is not one but 2 logs that presents to us Cédric Grolet for the holidays of Christmas 2018 at the famous Hotel Meurice.
Cédric Grolet , recently voted ” Best Pastry Chef of the World 2018 ” by the World’s 50 best, unveils his creations for this Christmas 2018 . This year, the talented chef returns to the traditional tastes of his childhood by highlighting the chestnut through the revisit of one of his signature dessert: Mont Blanc .
There are more Buches de Noel to post but I just don’t have any more time. Got to run and finish some last minute Christmas shopping.
Have a wonderful Christmas and super 2019.
Mark LaFleur


Who is Giorgio Vigna?



Born in 1955 in Verona, designer and artist Giorgio Vigna is known for his use of glasswork and his multiple collaborations with Venetian glassmaker Venini, which have resulted in a number of unique objects as well as Venini’s first glass jewelry collection, Talismani, in 1998. Vigna also created Iittala’s highly successful glass Birds collection in 2007 and designed the company’s first jewelry collection, Piilo Amulet in 2010.

Vigna first worked as a stage designer in the 1980s in Rome, before moving his studio to Milan in 1990, where he is still based. Much of his inspiration comes from nature, “water, fire… micro and macro cosmos… lightness and heaviness,” the artist said, adding he doesn’t distinguish between his jewelries and sculptures, seeing the former as a “continuation as they are all part of a single cosmos.”

Vigna’s jewelry creations was highlighted at Miami Design/ Basel, with Elisabetta Cipriani dedicating a large part of her booth to the Italian creator with 30 unique pieces available as expressions of the diverse disciplines he works with: the virtues of glass, jewelry as sculpture, and the soul of the precious. A section of the exhibition was dedicated to Sospeso (suspended), the first jewelry project of rings and pendants he created in collaboration with Elisabetta Cipriani in an edition of five and as an homage to his Sospeso sculpture that had been commissioned for the “TRA. Edge of becoming” exhibition held at the Fortuny museum, in 2011, during the 54th Venice Biennale.

“What makes Giorgio Vigna’s work unique is his incessant experimentation with different medium, bringing back his artifice to a natural state,” notes London based gallerist Elisabetta Cipriani pointing to his investigation of materials such as glass, metals, and paper.

His work is constantly developing, straddling art and design. Vigna explains he was probably attracted to jewelry design because his maternal grandfather had a goldsmith’s workshop.

Asked about his recurrent use of glass and the appeal of the material Vigna says “Glass is like water that has been captured, its unstoppable flow suspended for a moment in time.”

Vigna goes on to say “In each new exhibition, and especially for this one with Elisabetta Cipriani gallery in London there are always new developments of my artistic universe, but also pieces never seen before that are always part of this universe and come to light on this occasion,” the artist notes his inspiration came from “the element of water and glass, sand… handmade Murano glass, gold leaf… from water to rock, a journey into a new cave just discovered in a distant planet.”

We are pleased to present our collection of Vignas’ work here at the Antique Warehouse.  These piece were acquired in Paris and brought to Vancouver.


Light as a feather yet created out of silver, sand, and crystal this beautiful necklace is perfect for the Holiday Season. Look under new arrivals to see more of Vigna’s work. Available in time for Christmas.


The Chateau de Gudanes.

I stumbled across a blog some time ago about a delightful couple that had purchased a ‘Chateau’ and were documenting the restoration project as it unfolded. The blog was pretty, well written, and well marketed (even catching the eye of Haper’s Bazaar) but the further I got into this story the more I kept wondering why were they bothering at all.

Here’s the story. An Austrialian couple discovered this chateau (probably abandoned and purchased for a song) and decide it’s restoration would become their labor of love. They may have had a ‘love affair’ with the project at first, but all I could see was one giant nightmare.

The Chateau

The Chateau


The new owner's of the Chateau Gudanes.

The new owner’s of the Chateau Gudanes.

You see, this Australian couple bought what I’d consider a complete waste of time. It’s location was in the middle of nowhere, and the structure was in such terrible condition the thing would have been better off bull dozed to the ground. Oh I know, everyone’s going to say oh how horrible, it’s a lovely heritage building. How could you say such a thing.

Easy, it’s a building that’s far beyond repair and will crumble to the ground eventually no matter what they do to repair it. There’s a reason these derelict Chateaux cost nothing to buy.

I should know. With my countless trips to France I had a look at Chateaux a vendre (for sale) by the dozens. Some better than others. In the price range I was hoping to get, nothing existed that didn’t need millions of dollars of restoration work. Unless you’re willing to work on them yourself, (which I’m incapable of) forget it. Even the one’s that are livable usually need new rewiring, plumbing etc. And for a place with 10 or more bathrooms that’s a lot of plumbing.


Im no contractor, but how on earth are they going to fix this?

Im no contractor, but how on earth are they going to fix this?

It’s so full of rot and decay that it will cost a fortune. And to find the skilled workman (who are dependable) are few and far between in France. Seriously, The Chateau de Rothschild, that rotting hulk I wrote about a few blogs back, will take a cool 60 – 100 Million Euros to restore and it doesn’t have the problems Chateau de Guldanes has. And it’s located in Paris, which is far more preferable than in a mountain somewhere miles from anything.

Rot and more rot.

Rot and more rot.

Unfortunately the Chateau de Gudanes with whatever elegant past it may have had would be something I would have avoided at all costs.


What were they thinking?

What were they thinking?

A little about French Chateaux in general. If you’re thinking of buying one the old adage still applies. ‘Location,location,location’. But more importantly condition.

Buy a Chateau in the Loire Valley and it will cost millions. Particularly one that is in good liveable condition with lots of sq footage and acreage. Buy a place in the Verdun Pyrenees area (like Chateau de Gudanes) that’s in the middle of nowhere and high up in the mountains. (Bitter cold in the winter and semi warm in the summer) and you can be sure there was no ‘bidding war’here.

I once saw a Medieval Castle (photo shown below) for sale with drawbridge, moat etc. for sale for 1E. It needed just as much restoration as the Gudanes place but it was a real Castle and very cool. I would have bought it, but it was already sold. Hey, 1 E….not much committment there. The taxes were a bit high, but still, getting a place for almost a farthing does exist. But as the old adage goes, you always get what you pay for.


The fellow that bought the place modernized on part of the place and said he would restore the rest over time.

The fellow that bought the place modernized on part of the place and said he would restore the rest over time.

I don’t like Chateaux particularly. Give me a mill house or a large stone farm with building on a meandering river anytime. Chateaux are big, impersonal and always cold. On our trips around France we always sought out a large farm and avoid Chateaux when doing over nighters. I like the home cooked cuisine of the farms and the manoirs. Always more personal.

I remember one Chateau that Larry and I visited where upon returning from the bathroom I heard the kitchen staff mimicking Larry and his poor French. You never heard me tear a strip off someone so fast. They were literally stunned. Larry and I promptly left that bourgeois ‘Chateau’ for something more charming and friendly.


A French Mill House.

A French Mill House.

My Parisian friends say the only place to have a Chateau is in the Loire, the Sologne, Berry etc. That’s about 1.30 minutes south of Paris. The French Kings for Centuries selected this area for one reason and one reason only. The weather. It’s an amazing micro climate which never gets too cold in the winter and never too hot in the summer. And apparently the air is fresh full of positive ions with a slight breeze all the time. Paradise on earth.


The famous Chambord Chateau in the Loire Valley.

The famous Chambord Chateau in the Loire Valley.

The owners of the Chateau Gudane are this charming couple that you can’t help falling in love with with their lovely blog, dotted full of cutesy picutres of themselves, children, flowers etc. It makes you want their life. But you won’t

Winter at the Chateau du Gudanes.

Winter at the Chateau du Gudanes.

Serious water damage everywhere.

Serious water damage everywhere.

There's no denying the Chateau as are all Chateaux are filled with old elegance and charm.

There’s no denying the Chateau as are all Chateaux are filled with old elegance and charm.


A recently discovered 3 meter hole under the floor boards is a surprise nobody needs.

A recently discovered 3 meter hole under the floor boards is a surprise nobody needs.

Hope you enjoyed my brief foray into the buying of Chateaux and properties in France. With the country and it’s brutal tax structure I’d tend to stay away from anything in France unless you have very deep pockets and money to burn.

Mark LaFleur

Antiques and Interiors for 2018

According to some of the top designers in the world Antiques are becoming more popular than ever before.  There’s been a resurgence in the so called ‘brown furniture’ meaning such styles as Victorian, Georgian, as well as the classic French styles.

Why, because people are becoming a little bored with the overabundance of mass produced rubbish that not only disposable but detrimental to the environment.

Designers are anchoring modern looks with a fabulous antique to give the look charm and focus that might otherwise be lost in a monochromatic design.

According to Mark Hill from Designcurial in London

‘The only rule for 2018 is that all rules are off,” reckons Mark Hill, fellow author and another expert on the BBC’s Antiques Roadshow. “We buy antiques today because they appeal immediately to our eyes and hearts, and then they enrich our minds.  Before, interiors were strictly defined – from the Georgian dining room to the ubiquitous ‘shabby chic’ French country look.”

What exactly does this mean for interior design? “Eclecticism,” Mark argues, “is the new minimalism – mixing and matching seemingly disparate pieces together to build a unique and individual look that defines you. Quirky is cool.  1970s Italian goblets on a sideboard from the 1790s?   A collection of Victorian transfer-printed and guilt plates arranged asymmetrically on a stark chalk-white wall?  Why not?”

Antique Warehouse carries an extensive collection of french, england and belgium antiques and ships to the USA and worldwide.  Visit our website for a full list of our current french antique inventory.

Mark Hill, Antique and Collectable Expert, formerly of Sotheby’s and Bonhams.

Then again, he does see some trends coming through in 2018 in this new world where there are ‘no rules’. “Bold forms, or richness in terms of colour and pattern, layered against a strong colour, are on trend.  Also, watch out for the return of what is inadequately descried as ‘brown furniture’.  I’m seeing more and more buyers returning to Georgian, Victorian and Edwardian furniture”.

“There’s also a rise in interest in pieces that show the hand of the craftsman,” he continues, giving the examples of a “sparkling cut glass vase, or a wonderfully weathered piece of folk art.  Our eyes have been assailed for too long with mass-produced, machine-made rubbish lacking in soul!”

We couldn’t agree more. We’ve seen a rise in popularity that’s increasing globally. In fact, it’s more difficult then ever to source great pieces at formerly reasonable prices.

Here at the Antique Warehouse we’re shipping more and more to the four corners of the world than ever before.

Antique Warehouse carries an extensive collection of french, england and belgium antiques and ships to the USA and worldwide.  Visit our website for a full list of our current french antique inventory.

Old Georgian Home Wood World Globes Study Antique

But this new trend is hardly new from where we stand.  We’ve seen this going on here at the Antique Warehouse for the past few years. Good stand alone pieces with quality and substance are always in demand. We curate our collection carefully based on this.

Thanks for reading.

Mark LaFleur




For all you oddball collectable collectors out there!

Collectables and Antiques

Hi Everyone,

It’s been some time since I posted on my blog, but I am on vacation and now have some free time. I came across an article by one of my favourite blogs by Vanessa AKA  Messy Nessy, A London born millennial and her partner (chief millennial technical expert she lovingly refers to as elf ) both young and pretty and with a great pulse on Paris.  One of her latest posts was about the oldest auction house in the world known as the Dorotheum, in Vienna.  Vanessa referred to her blog as Frankensteins auction, but in fact it had noting to do with the real Dr. Frankenstein.

The Dorotheum, one of Viennas oldest auction houses is auctioning off some of the most bizarre of the bizarrest items of curiosities. Everything from turn of the century phones to a rare navicular naventiis.

Below you’ll see some unusual but not terribly disturbing images of things you may just take a fancy for. Bidding can be done online and shipment of one article is possible from this auction house.

Consult with the Dorotheum for any additional information.

Collectables and Antiques

Open Heart Human Model starting at 150E

Collectables and Antiques

A Navicula de Venetiis,  or ‘little ship of Venice’, is a very rare form of sundial. It was developed in Europe in the Middle Ages, though it is possible that its origins were Arabic. Starting bid 10,000E

Collectables and Antiques

1845 Celestial Globe by Franz Leopold Schöninger. Opening price 1500 €

Collectables and Antiques

A Paris turn of the century Stereoscope with images of Paris. The quality of the images on these is clear and fascinating giving the viewer a glimpse of the old past of French and Parisian life. Stereoscope and image viewer “Souvenir de Paris”. Opening price 300 €

Collectables and Antiques

A c. 1890 Jan Felkl & Son Tellurian. Opening price 1,500 €

Collectables and Antiques

An early mechanical dress form. C.1900 Opening bid 1000E

Collectables and Antiques

Economic Microscope by R. & J. Beck. Opening price 300 €

Collectables and Antiques

Three 19th century Apothecary travelling chests. Opening price 450 €

Collectables and Antiques

A mid 20th century distillation apparatus Model. Opening price 850 €

Collectables and Antiques

A Kelvin Hughes Star Globe. Opening price 400 €


Collectables and Antiques

A c. 1900 Ericsson Telephone. Opening price 600 €

Thanks for reading.

Mark LaFleur





Leonardo Da Vinci’s Lost Masterpiece Goes up for Auction

Leonardo Da Vinci’s Lost Masterpiece Goes up for Auction

Salvator Mundi — The rediscovery of a masterpiece: Chronology, conservation, and authentication

Leonardo da Vinci’s Salvator Mundi is one of the greatest and most unexpected artistic rediscoveries of the 21st century. Its illustrious 500-year history, and the story of its re-emergence, restoration and authentication, is as fascinating as any of the bestselling thrillers about Leonardo’s life and times

Leonardo Da Vinci's, Antiques, Antique History

Leonardo Da Vinci’s Savaltor Mundi, or Savior of the world. Painted in 1500

Leonardo paints Salvator Mundi  possibly for King Louis XII of France and his consort, Anne of Brittany. It is most likely commissioned soon after the conquests of Milan and Genoa.

Expert opinion varies slightly on the dating. Most consulting scholars place the painting at the end of Leonardo’s Milanese period in the later 1490s, contemporary with The Last Supper. Others believe it to be slightly later, painted in Florence (to where the artist moved in 1500), contemporary with the Mona Lisa. Like several of Leonardo’s later paintings, the Salvator Mundi  is probably executed over a period of years.


French princess Henrietta Maria marries King Charles I of England (1600-1649), the greatest picture collector of his age. It has been speculated that she brings the painting to England, whereupon it hangs in the private chambers at her palace in Greenwich until, with Civil War looming, she flees England in 1644.

Leonardo Da Vinci's, Antiques, Antique History

Charles I of England, the greatest art collector of his age, and Henrietta Maria, who is thought to have brought the painting to England from France upon becoming his queen consort in 1625. Painting by Anthony van Dyck. Palazzo Pitti, Florence, Italy / Bridgeman ImagesThe celebrated printmaker Wenceslaus Hollar — a Royalist who also escaped England in the 1640s — publishes a print based on an earlier drawing he had made of the painting, which itself is recorded in the inventory of the royal collection (‘A peece of Christ done by Leonardo at 30:00:00’). The inventory is compiled in fulfilment of an act of Parliament dated 23 March 1649, which requires the sale of the king and queen’s property to meet the debts of their creditors and for the ‘publick uses of this Commonwealth’.


The celebrated printmaker Wenceslaus Hollar — a Royalist who also escaped England in the 1640s — publishes a print based on an earlier drawing he had made of the painting, which itself is recorded in the inventory of the royal collection (‘A peece of Christ done by Leonardo at 30:00:00’). The inventory is compiled in fulfilment of an act of Parliament dated 23 March 1649, which requires the sale of the king and queen’s property to meet the debts of their creditors and for the ‘publick uses of this Commonwealth’.

Hollar signs and dates his etching, inscribing it ‘Leonardus da Vinci pinxit’, Latin for ‘Leonardo da Vinci painted it’. The print itself is published in Antwerp and proof copies are sent to the queen in exile.

Leonardo Da Vinci's, Antiques, Antique History

esus after Leonardo (state 1) by Wenceslas Hollar, including the artist’s inscription in Latin: ‘Leonardus da Vinci pinxit’ (‘Leonardo da Vinci painted it’). Artwork form University of Toronto Wenceslas Hollar Digital Collection

1651An inventory records that the painting is sold at the ‘Commonwealth Sale’ on 23 October to John Stone, a mason (in modern terms an architect or builder) who was representative of a group of creditors who received it and other paintings in repayment of debts.


Charles II is restored to the throne and his late father’s possessions are recalled by an act of Parliament. Stone returns the painting to the Crown.


An inventory of the collection of King Charles II at Whitehall lists it among the select paintings in the king’s closet, as item 311: ‘Leonard de Vince O.r. Savio.r a gloabe in one hand and holding up y.e other’.

Leonardo Da Vinci's, Antiques, Antique History

Charles II is restored to the throne in 1660 and his late father’s possessions, including the painting by Leonardo, are recalled by an act of Parliament. Portrait by Godfrey Kneller. Kenwood House, London, UK © Historic England / Bridgeman Images

1685 to late 18th century

The picture very probably remains at Whitehall during the reign of Charles II’s successor, James II (1685-88), passing to his mistress, Catherine Sedley, Countess of Dorchester (1657-1717), and then by descent until the late 18th century.

Having vanished for around 200 years, the painting surfaces when it is acquired from Sir Charles Robinson as a work by Leonardo’s follower, Bernardino Luini, for the Cook Collection, Doughty House, Richmond. By this time, the walnut panel on which it is painted has been marouflaged and cradled and Christ’s face and hair have been extensively overpainted.

The architect Leon Benois exhibits the Madonna and Child with Flowers by Leonardo, a painting previously thought lost, in St Petersburg. Now in the Hermitage, St. Petersburg, The Benois Madonna, as it is now known, remains the last Leonardo painting to have emerged for almost 100 years.

Leonardo Da Vinci's, Antiques, Antique History

he previous painting by Leonardo to come to light — Madonna and Child with Flowers, known as the Benois Madonna, which was exhibited in St Petersburg in 1909. akg-images / Album / Prisma

1913In his catalogue of the Italian paintings in the Cook Collection, Tancred Borenius describes the present painting as a ‘free copy after Boltraffio’ (another pupil of Leonardo’s). Sir Herbert Cook, however, notes that he sees higher quality in it.

Leonardo Da Vinci's, Antiques, Antique History

Salvator Mundi in the Cook Collection


In the dispersal of the Cook Collection Salvador Mundi — concealed by overpainting — is ultimately consigned to a sale at auction where it fetches £45. It then disappears once again for nearly 50 years.


The painting is discovered — masquerading as a copy — in a regional auction in the United States. After acquiring it from an American estate, its new owners move forward with care and deliberation in cleaning and restoring the painting, researching and thoroughly documenting it, and cautiously vetting its authenticity with the world’s leading authorities on the works and career of the Milanese master.

A comprehensive restoration of the Salvator Mundi is undertaken by Dianne Dwyer Modestini, Senior Research Fellow and Conservator of the Kress Program in Paintings Conservation at the Conservation Center of the Institute of Fine Arts, New York University. Modestini explains that the original walnut panel on which Leonardo, who was known for his use of experimental material, executed Salvator Mundi contained a knot which had split early in its history. However, she concludes that important parts of the painting are remarkably well-preserved, and close to their original state. These include both of Christ’s hands, the exquisitely rendered curls of his hair, the orb, and much of his drapery. The magnificently executed blessing hand, Modestini notes, is intact. With regards to the face, Modestini comments, ‘Fortunately, apart from the discrete losses, the flesh tones of the face retain their entire layer structure, including the final scumbles and glazes. These passages have not suffered from abrasion; if they had I wouldn’t have been able to reconstruct the losses.’

During the conservation process, pentimenti — preliminary compositional ideas, subsequently changed by the artist in the finished painting, but not reflected in the etching or painted copies — are observed through infrared imaging, and duly photographed. The most prominent is a first position for the thumb in the blessing hand, more upright than in the finished picture. IRR imagery also reveals distinct handprints, especially evident on the proper left side of Christ’s forehead, where the artist smoothed and blotted the paint with his palm. This kneading of the paint in order to create soft and amorphous effects of shadow and light is typical of the artist’s technique in the latter part of Leonardo’s career.

Leonardo Da Vinci's, Antiques, Antique History

Other discoveries afforded by infrared analysis include the possibility that the head was executed with the aid of a cartoon; spolveri — pouncing — can be seen running along the line of the upper lip.

Two drawings comprising three sketches survive in which Leonardo studied the basic folds and disposition of Christ’s tunic and its sleeves. The two sheets are in the royal collections at Windsor Castle in England.

Technical examinations and analyses demonstrate the consistency of the pigments, media, and technique discovered in the Salvator Mundi with those known to have been used by Leonardo, especially in comparison to the Mona Lisa and St. John. As the possibility of the great master’s authorship becomes clear, the painting is shown to a group of international Leonardo scholars and experts, including Mina Gregori (University of Florence) and Sir Nicholas Penny (then, Chief Curator of Sculpture, National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C.; subsequently Director of The National Gallery, London), so that an informed consensus about its attribution might be obtained.

Leonardo Da Vinci's, Antiques, Antique History

Leonardo da Vinci, Salvator Mundi, circa 1500 (detail)


The painting is studied at The Metropolitan Museum of Art by museum curators Keith Christiansen, Andrea Bayer, Carmen Bambach, and Everett Fahy, and by Michael Gallagher, Head of the Department of Paintings Conservation.

In late May, the painting is taken to The National Gallery, London, where it is studied in direct comparison with The Virgin of the Rocks, Leonardo’s painting of approximately the same date. David Allan Brown (Curator of Italian Painting, National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C.), Maria Teresa Fiorio (Raccolta Vinciana, Milan), Luke Syson, the Curator of Italian Paintings at The National Gallery, Martin Kemp (University of Oxford), Pietro C. Marani (Professor of Art History at the Politecnico di Milano), and Carmen Bambach of the Metropolitan Museum of Art are among those invited to study the two paintings together. Later, the authenticity of the piece as an autograph work by Leonardo was confirmed by Vincent Delieuvin at the Louvre, Paris.


The painting is again examined in New York by several of the above, as well as by David Ekserdjian (University of Leicester) and a broad consensus is reached that the Salvator Mundi was painted by Leonardo da Vinci, and that it is the single original painting from which the many copies and student versions depend.

The reasons for the unusually uniform scholarly consensus that the painting is an autograph work by Leonardo are several, including the previously mentioned relationship of the painting to the two autograph preparatory drawings in Windsor Castle; its correspondence to the composition of the ‘Salvator Mundi’ documented in Wenceslaus Hollar’s etching of 1650; and its manifest superiority to the more than 20 known painted versions of the composition.

Furthermore, the extraordinary quality of the picture, especially evident in its best-preserved areas, and its close adherence in style to Leonardo’s known paintings from circa 1500, solidifies this consensus.

The painting is expected to fetch at auction over 100M Dollars.  But with all the hype and frenzy over this discovery I beleive at auction it will bring two to three times the price.

This article is a reprint from Christies auction site.

Thanks for reading.

Mark LaFleur
The Antique Warehouse

Flying Water Taxi’s for Paris?

If this isn’t the coolest thing ever, I really don’t know what is. And of course it’s started in France. Paris actually.

This summer a fleet of George Jetson like water taxis will be unleashed to the public and will jet up and down the Seine.
What fun!

Think Uber but as a boat which hovers above the water– so basically, a flying boat taxi, right along the Paris Seine River..

French Antiques
Alain Thébault and Anders Bringdal, who together broke the record for speed on a flying sailboat that they designed back in 2009, created these futuristic electric-powered water taxis which go by the name of “Sea Bubbles”. Although, to me they kind of look like weird little bug robots…

French Antiques

Each shuttle will carry 5 people, including a pilot (until regulations change to allow self-driving models)
They will be used with an application similar to Uber and cost no more than €10 a ride
You’ll able to summon them to specially-designed docks which will also serve as charging stations
They will be zero emission and eco-friendly, built with biodegradable material
They’ll be silent and generate no waves
They will hover a few inches above water, travelling at a maximum speed of 30km imposed by the city (about the speed of going downhill on a bicycle).

French Antiques

Interior Shot

The bubbles have gained support from the controversial Paris mayor, Anne Hidalgo, who is passionate to ensure that the city cuts down on pollution and sets eco-efficient standards for the rest of the world.

The first tests for the Sea Bubbles are planned to commence June 14th on the Seine and rumour has it that if all goes well, they will be launched as a permanent form of transport next Spring.

French Antiques

Lets go to Paris and jet along the Seine. I can’t think of anything more I’d rather do.



La Samaritane Scheduled to Reopen

For years, one of the world’s most iconic and historic department stores sat empty along the banks of the Seine in Paris; an imposing ghostly shell of former retail splendour, a giant sleeping elephant in the room occupying prime real estate in the heart of the city.

When I heard that renovation works were finally set to begin again after numerous false starts and lengthy delays I was pleased. It was a beautiful building that deserved ressurection.

French Antique Furniture

The Art Nouveau Splendor Palace.

I remember shopping at the Samaritaine before it closed. It had grown old and dingy even then, but it did have everything and anything. I think I was looking for fabric or something. When I learned the icon of Parisian shopping was closing it confirmed the sad state of trying to run a business under the current bureaucratic nightmare of a government in France. I was pleased to learn it was reopening under the umbrella of the fashion giant LVMH, spearheaded by French billionaire Bernard Arnault. (He owns most of the fashion houses in Europe now, including Dior, Louis Vuitton, Celine and too many to list). At least Arnault knows how to operate under the system that’s bleeding the country dry and still make money.

French Antique Furniture

Mon. Arnault

The origins of La Samaritaine is another rags to riches story. The founder Ernest Cognacq, started out his career selling ties under a red umbrella on the Pont Neuf, until 1869, when he heard about a space for let in a petite room next to a café he frequented on the nearby Rue de la Monnaie. He took the offer, opened a small clothing boutique and recruited his wife as his first employee, who had been working as a saleswoman in the confectionary aisles at Le Bon Marché. I wonder if the couple knew then that the famous department store where she left her job would come to be their greatest competitor.

French Antique Furniture
By the dawn of the twentieth century, just thirty years on from Cognacq’s humble beginnings as a smalltime tradesman on the Seine, the couple had expanded their enterprise, giving birth to the large edifice seen today, the “Grands Magasins de La Samaritaine”.

French Antique Furniture
A clever and ambitious businessman, he steadily acquired neighbouring buildings around him and soon enough, entire city blocks were being reworked and reconstructed to make space for his growing empire.

French Antique Furniture
La Samaritaine was an art nouveau palace of retail, the ideally organised and managed department store, arranged as a collection of individually owned stores, each managed by “petits patrons” that operated in harmony but autonomously.

French Antique Furniture
Cognacq used revolutionary marketing techniques, attracting the crowds with “deal of the day” and started doing what might seem obvious to us today– price-labelling the items.

French Antique Furniture

La Samaritaine became Paris’ leading department store and was at its peak during the interwar period, when nearly 20,000 people were under its employ.

French Antique Furniture
It occupied four buildings between the river and the rue de Rivoli, living up to the famous slogan later coined for the department store; “On trouve tout à la Samaritaine” – One can find everything in La Samaritaine.”

French Antique Furniture
There was even a gymnasium and a nursery. That’s something you won’t find in the chic Vancouver ‘Nordstroms’!

French Antique Furniture
I will look forward to the opening of the new Samaratine. They promise to leave all the Art Nouveau splendor that went into building the original palace of luxury shopping. Maybe it will be that way again maybe it won’t. We’ll see now won’t we.



How Antiques Amp Up a Contemporary Space.

This week on the premier website 1 Dibs, an article was published “How Antiques Amp Up a Contemporary Space”. I’ve pulled the article and reposted on my website. The writer is Cara Greenberg and here is her article below. But I’ve been saying this for years now, and really any good interior designer or decorator already knows this.

How Antiques Amp Up a Contemporary Space.
By Cara Greenberg.

Antiques add drama — and ­more than a little gravitas — to contemporary interiors. Top talents reveal how they pull off the balancing act.

Call it the X factor: the unexpected juxtaposition of decorative elements that lifts a contemporary interior out of the ordinary and makes people sit up and take notice. Often, it’s the insertion of one or more well-chosen antiques, thoughtfully deployed against the clean lines of contemporary furnishings, that makes the whole setting pop. “Antiques are the element of surprise in a contemporary space,” says Los Angeles– and New York–based interior designer Alexandra Loew.

Alexandra Lowe

Alexandra Lowe

“Antiques are a great foil to chic-but-clinical newness,” is how James “Ford” Huniford, of Huniford Design Studio in New York’s Greenwich Village, puts it. “They can keep a contemporary interior from looking like a sterile showroom.”

James Huniford

James Huniford

It wasn’t until the last few decades of the 20th century that mixing styles and periods became acceptable, and then de rigueur. Prior to that, people lived with whatever was, for them, modern in its truest sense — “of the moment,” whether the moment was Louis XIV, Colonial or high Victorian. The early 20th century saw revivals of classical styles, the birth of the modernist movement and the swoops and amoeboid shapes of the immediate postwar years. By the 1960s, when the typical contemporary room was white and spare, with furnishings predicated on the right angle, some design mavericks began bringing in Tiffany lamps and bentwood rockers to leaven the mix.

Antique Accessories

This lovely Louis XVI Console is just at home in a contemporary setting as in a classic. Only this one was produced in France and has an enduring look and quality that will last for decades.

Today, with websites making global shopping possible, the whole of decorative-arts history is fair game for those seeking to create interesting interiors, which can incorporate every style and period from antiquity to the present day. But a delicate balancing act is required. Many top designers selectively use antiques in otherwise contemporary settings to add drama and enliven their schemes. Examples of this are located on our ‘inspiration’ page of our website.

Antique Accessories

Louis XVI chairs like these were sold by us to Interior Decorator Superstar Nate Berkus who used them in one of his design projects just this past year.

Antique Accessories

I love the use of the bureau bookcase and the 60’s maison bague style table in this modern bathroom.

Antique Accessories

This beautiful French Farm table makes this contemporary space look simple and elegant.

So you have it. Mix an antique for drama and style. But you and I already knew that-

Thanks for reading!

Mark LaFleur
226 SW Marine Drive,
Vancouver, B.C.
Please visit our website

We ship worldwide.

Cote de Boeuf

Cote de Boeuf

For all you vegetarians out there, this is not a blog you’ll find particularly interesting. But to my fellow carnivores, you will love this! A week or so ago a friend invited me out to dinner. We chose the relatively new ‘Umbertos’ as neither of us had been yet.

There I was, all dressed and feeling fabulous, car so sparkling clean it was blinding. I pulled up to the front of Umberto’s and handed the valet my keys.

“Excuse me Sir…just so you know” said the Valet “You drove up the bicycle lane”

“What” I said “Oh I’m so sorry, I thought it was the entrance to the Restaurant”

Meanwhile a group of outdoor diners were laughing as I spun around to check for ‘bicycle lane’ signs.

“But there’s no signs” I said “This is all very confusing”

“Don’t worry” said the valet “You’re not the first to do it.”

“So if I’m not the first, then why hasn’t something been done to fix the problem” I thought to myself

“Have a nice dinner” said the Valet as I hurried by a group of smirking onlookers.

I arrived early so I had a chance to peruse the menu. I found something that raised the taste buds to a standing attention. They called it ‘Fiorentino’ but I had a hunch it might be what the French call a ‘Cote de Boeuf’ (Cut of Beef). The description was right but I had to know exactly. No other restaurant in Vancouver that I’ve been to has ever produced a real ‘Cote de Boeuf’. What is a Cote de Boeuf you might ask. Picture this, a 38oz bone in cut of porterhouse steak roasted to perfection then sliced in manageable and edible portions.

Cote de Boeuf - Parisian style.

Cote de Boeuf – Parisian style.

I asked my waiter about the dish and he knew exactly what a Cote de Bouef was. He confirmed that it was their version but it was virtually the same thing. I couldn’t wait. In fact, when my dinner guest arrived I insisted we order the dish. It was perfectly done! Nice and rare and enough for four people, let alone two. In fact, we never finished the whole thing.

I’m not promoting Umberto, although I think he deserves it. I’ve been going to Umbertos since my early 20’s when he was the only restaurant in town that would allow me to bring my royal black standard poodle along with me to dinner. (If any of you remember the Mark James clothing store for men on Broadway, Mark had a couple of them lumbering around his store.) (Also, just to mention, I did not and never did have the ‘pom pom’ cut on my dog..)

My dog Sebastian looked exactly like the bigger of the two dogs only completely black.

My dog Sebastian looked exactly like the bigger of the two dogs only completely black. I would strap him into the front seat of my car with my seatbelt and onlookers thought there was a passenger in the car.

Yes, I know there are more hip and trendy places, but frankly, anyone that can make Lobster bisque (to perfection) and a ‘Cote de Boeuf’, deserves to be mentioned. (Even if the loud and self entitled table next to me were so obnoxious that my dinner guest and I had to literally shout to talk to each other). There’s nothing more annoying and frankly we hurried our dinner just to get away from these people. Ugh!

Seriously, other people are trying to enjoy their dinner and talk without shouting at each other.

Seriously, other people are trying to enjoy their dinner and talk without shouting at each other.

That’s one difference (among many) that I love about dining in Paris. (unless it’s a bar or bistro) people respect other peoples space and would never raise their voices to attract attention.

The interior of Il Giardino

The interior of Il Giardino

In any event, if you’re looking for something special and you love meat, I highly recommend a trip to Umbertos. But arrive hungry you’ll need the room.

Bon Appetit

Mark LaFleur
The Antique Warehouse
226 SW Marine Drive,
Vancouver, BC

See you next week!

See you next week!

Club Michou, Paris.

Mention Chez Michou to any Parisian and they all know it. It’s been around since the swinging 60’s when it was hip and impossible to get into. The second night after we arrived my best friend Simon said “Great you’re here..we’re going to Chez Michou and you must come…I’ll get you some tickets” At 150E a ticket he was being most generous. (I did offer to pay but he refused.)

Now Chez Michou is really nothing more than a crowded, impossible to get into, female impersonator club. The show was amazing, the food, well, mediochre at best. But then again, it is a club, not a restaraunt.

 Antique French Furniture

Club Michou, Paris legend since the 1960’s. It was completely packed on the Monday night we went.

Club Michou requires months in advance for reservations. It’s been like that for decades. So to get in last minute was something I wouldn’t pass on. I turned to my Nephew and asked him if he packed a jacket for going out.

“No” he said.

“Well” I said “Lets go shopping.”

I bought him a new sports jacket (short cropped very tight at the waist that can only be worn by 22 year olds with 18″ waists) shirt, pants, shoes, and flew him down to a great salon I knew to get his hair ‘Parisianized’. I told him just sit back relax! They know what they’re doing. They trimmed his beard (thank God) and redid his hair.

He’s such a good kid he listened to his uncle Mark and within minutes he was ‘Voila un Parisian’. The cut was beautiful, he looked totally French and I was completely satisfied with my creation. I was a stylist years ago when I was very young. I worked on the lead actor of the dreadful movie that has now has a cult following “The Evil Dead”. My long time New York friend, Lauren was the publicist and she asked me if I’d style the lead actor. We now laugh at the ‘popularity’ of this movie and frankly are slightly embarrassed we had anything to do with it.

 Antique French Furniture
Anyway, by 8 we were at my friend Simons for champagne and appetizers and waiting for a private black van to take us to one of the most legendary clubs in Paris. The private black Mercedes arrived, packed us in, and up we went to the Montmartre district of Paris. We entered the club without waiting a second, (there was a line) and were greeted by charming albeit half drag queen, and shown to Michou’s table for a hello. We couldn’t help noticing that every celebrity’s photo from the 1960’s to now were covering the walls.

Michou immediately insisted we have a photo taken with him by his photographers. We found out later they were 20E a piece and it was nothing about being special.


 Antique French Furniture

MIchou with the fabulous Regine, famous for her hip nightclubs of the 80’s.

 Antique French Furniture

Our ‘family’ portrait with Jackson and I in the middle standing next to Julie, Stany, The bottom row is their daughter Ana Kim, Mother Aimee, Michou, Simon and Gabrielle.


 Antique French Furniture

These two were there that night.

Don’t even think of getting out of Michou until way past 1 am. Their impersonations of Grace Jones, and Celine Dion sent shivers from the realism of the production. Jackson and I didn’t get home until past 3 and we had to be out the door by 9 am. That my friends what being Parisian is all about. Party all night, and work (for part of the day anyway).


 Antique French Furniture

Amazing Celine Dion impersonation, if you like Celine that is. They all adore her in Paris.

The club is bright red inside and stays that way until you leave.

 Antique French Furniture

Chez Michou is cramped, small inside, and the food was not that great. But the floorshow was amazing. When Grace Jones came on I thought I was dreaming. (or having a nightmare)

In any event, I hope you enjoyed this blog. Chez Michou is a fun place but I don’t know that it’s for everyone. The performers spoke in nothing but French so much of it was lost as they spoke in slang and very quickly

In any event, I want to thank my friend Simon and Julie for inviting us. We had a truly Parisian Experience.


 Antique French Furniture

See you next week!

French Armoires…More Than Just a Closet.

In the past, Armoires were usually relegated to the bedroom of the house. In France, they’re still used just about everywhere you go. Of course, France is saturated with character homes that can date back several centuries still with the original furnishings intact. You’re guaranteed one of these beautiful Armoires in every bedroom of these residences if they were built before the 20th Century.

Typical South of France Maison.

Typical South of France Maison.

But Armoires in France aren’t restricted to houses or bedrooms. In French homes you’ll see Armoires used in any room where storage and decorative appeal is required. Like this photo below of an elegant Parisian apartment. Not only does it provide much needed storage but the decorative element is undeniable. (I also LOVE the floors).

Louis XV Style Armoire

The beautiful white distressed Louis XV style Armoire is not only decorative but a wonderful storage unit. We sell many Armoires at the Antique Warehouse.

Here in North America, buy a home or apartment and you’re almost guaranteed a built in closet. It may be the size of a postage stamp, but a newly constructed residence will always have one.

Although closets could occasionally be found in North America, they didn’t come into common use until after World War II. Today they’re viewed as a basic necessity, like indoor plumbing, and it can be quite a nuisance if you’re in an old house that’s missing one.

Not only do french armoires provide capacious storage and fantastic versatility, but their design impact is just what’s needed when you want to add some elegance and interest to an otherwise characterless room.

Painted French Armoire

A painted French armoire can give a lightness and a focal point of interest in any modern construction.

Not only does an armoire provide storage, but it’s a high-impact decorating tool. Although armoires were originally used in the 16th century for storing weapons (thus the name armoire, from the old French armarie), by the 17th century their use was expanded to include the storage of clothing and linens. This exemplary old French version is used classically in a bedroom. Its imposing presence grabs your attention and sets the tone.

Louis XV Painted Armoire

This beautiful Louis XV painted armoire is one of the nicest designs around.

And speaking of setting the tone, the elegant and ornately carved French Armoire can look sensational in a dining room. Paired with a French crystal chandelier the look creates a refined atmosphere that would make any hostess feel like she’s entertaining in Paris. You can put anything in those armoires, be it table linens, a bar, collections of dishes and crystal, a stereo playing cool jazz, classical or cool ambient tehcno.

Carved French Armoire


One of the nice things about these elegant pieces of furniture is that they are usually made to completely disassemble. (not always the case with Armoires from England) The doors lift easily off the hinges, the crown and base are usually separate pieces, and the sides and back will come apart in many sections.

Empire Armoire

the Empire armoire the man is taking apart for shipment to us will completely disassemble into about 10 or more pieces. You can see another armoire Louis XV in the background almost completely apart.

Small Armoires

Small Armoires look wonderful in the bathroom and provide much needed storage space.

Elements of Armoires can be used for a multitude of purposes. I personally took the doors off one armoire and replaced regular boring closet doors in an entry way in my home with a pair of walnut Louis XV doors. The look is fabulous and everyone remarks on their beauty. I didn’t refinish them either preferring to the leave the rich tonal qualities of the highly french polished walnut.

I found the below photo on the internet where a contractor had taken an armoire or buffet or French cabinet and created ‘cabinet facings’ in a kitchen. (see below). The look is splendid and rich!

Kitchen Cabinetry

Imagine the cost if you tried to have this custom made today.

In another example of adaptability, here an antique armoire has been expertly incorporated into bedroom closet storage. It definitely adds warmth and character.

Armoire Storage Closet


Storage Armoires

Look how much storage these armoires have. I’ve even retrofitted these pieces to fit big screen TV’s. This particular designer reversed the placement of the doors so they remain open and the decorative ‘fronts’ remain exposed.

Louis XIII Walnut Armoire

Look how interesting this Louis XIII walnut armoire looks in this modern environment. There’s no beams, crown mouldings, or chandeliers in this space. The interest and charm is created by the use of a few antiques.

Clearly armoires, be they French, English, Spanish or otherwise clearly have a multitude of uses. The idea is to decide where you’d like to incorporate these wonderful pieces into your home. Visit us in person or online and see the selection we carry here at The Antique Warehouse Vancouver. We ship anywhere!

Thanks for reading!

Mark LaFleur
The Antique Warehouse
226 SW Marine Drive,
Vancouver, BC


email: [email protected]

The ‘Feasts’ of Christmas Past

While waiting to board between flights for Europe, I decided that instead of being glued to my computer and iphone like everyone else in the lounge I would revert to an earlier period in my life where reading a newspaper or magazine was all there was to pass the time. What a refreshing change that was.

I selected an English publication I had not heard of before ( by English I mean published in England ) that had written a fascinating article about a man named ‘Ivan Day’, an art historian by trade whose passion it was to examine cooking throughout the centuries. As I love to cook I read this article from beginning to end.

The article conjured images of roasting suckling pigs, fabulous meat pies, quince and pheasant pies, dinners by candlelight and roaring fireplaces. What could be more festive. Fascinating insights into how people celebrated the Holidays over the centuries.


 English Antique Furniture

Ivan Day photographed in front of his amazing creations.

The article written by Polly Russell ( Russell herself is a curator at the British Library), states that Ivan Day is a noted authoritarian on food making throughout the ages and runs food courses, advises museums and archives their collections and exhibitions. Day also has a website and has appeared on the BBC.

Day’s home is a charming authentic low beamed Medieval farmhouse in Cumbria that dates back to the 1600’s, replete with his collection of all the equipment needed to produce recipes as far back as the 1500’s. Day has a Medieval fireplace with a spit from the 1700.s that can roast a mutton, he also has antique copper moulds, both pie and jelly, fascinating implements for pie and pastry making that date back to the 1600’s.

Day’s passion began at the age of 13 when, after ducking into an antique store to escape the rain, he discovered a tattered old book published in 1723 by John Nott titled ‘The Cooks and Confectioners Dictionary’. He took one look, purchased the book as was hooked!


 English Antique Furniture

Ivan Day preparing a dish in his home surrounded by antique copper molds.

Since we’re well into the Holiday period, Ivan discusses the Christmas Feast and how it was enjoyed throughout the ages. In fact, I learned that Medieval people dined more lavishly than we do now. Feasts of 2 courses of 20 dishes each were prepared days in advance to insure a memorable experience at Christmas. It’s little wonder gout was such a problem back then.


 English Antique Furniture

Typical Tudor dress of the era.

Ivan Day explains that roast mutton was a staple at Christmas along with turkey, pheasant, swan, and other wild fowl (all served during the same seating). By the time Christmas came about these birds and animals were at their fattest and ready for butchering. As early at the 1500’s farmers were encouraged to grow Turkeys because they produced the most meat of any bird.

The Christmas pie was the centerpiece of the table. A chef named ‘Francatelli’ produced a pie in 1848 that consisted of truffles, turkey, pheasant and a small york ham that took two days to produce and 6 hours to cook. To produce a pie like this today, Ivan claims, would cost over $600!


 English Antique Furniture

A partridge pie created by Ivan himself. In the medieval period the chef would take the head and feathers of the actual bird so that people knew what they were eating.

Ivan also discusses the preparation that went into making desserts and sweets over the ages.


 English Antique Furniture

A ‘motto’ shortbread from the Victorian Era.

In a Christmas Day bill of fare by Robert May dated 1660 you can see below all the dishes that were prepared and served!

by Robert May, 1660

1. A collar of brawn [pork that is rolled, tied, and boiled in wine and seasonings].
2. Stewed Broth of Mutton marrow bones.
3. A grand Sallet [salad].
4. A pottage [thick stew] of caponets [young castrated roosters].
5. A breast of veal in stoffado [stuffed veal].
6. A boil’d partridge.
7. A chine (a cut of meat containing backbone) of beef, or surloin roast. Here’s May’s recipe:

To roast a Chine, Rib, Loin, Brisket, or Fillet of Beef
Draw them with parsley, rosemary, tyme, sweet marjoram, sage, winter savory, or lemon, or plain without any of them, fresh or salt, as you please; broach it, or spit it, roast it and baste it with butter; a good chine of beef will ask six hours roasting.

For the sauce take strait tops of rosemary, sage-leaves, picked parsley, tyme, and sweet marjoram; and strew them in wine vinegar, and the beef gravy; or otherways with gravy and juice of oranges and lemons. Sometimes for change in saucers of vinegar and pepper.

8. Minced pies.
9. A Jegote [sausage] of mutton with anchove sauce.
10. A made dish of sweet-bread (Here’s a recipe from A New Booke of Cookerie by John Murrell, published in 1615: Boyle, or roast your Sweet-bread, and put into it a fewe Parboyld Currens, a minst Date, the yolkes of two new laid Egs, a piece of a Manchet grated fine. Season it with a little Pepper, Salt, Nutmeg, and Sugar, wring in the iuyce of an Orenge, or Lemon, and put it betweene two sheetes of puft-paste, or any other good Paste: and eyther bake it, or frye it, whether you please.)
11. A swan roast.
12. A pasty of venison.
13. A kid with a pudding in his belly.
14. A steak pie.
15. A hanch of venison roasted.
16. A turkey roast and stuck with cloves.
17. A made dish of chickens in puff paste.
18. Two bran geese roasted, one larded [larding is inserting or weaving strips of fat in the meat, sometimes with a needle].
19. Two large capons, one larded.
20. A Custard.


Oranges and Lemons
1. A young lamb or kid.
2. Two couple of rabbits, two larded.
3. A pig souc’t [sauced] with tongues.
4. Three ducks, one larded.
5. Three pheasants, 1 larded.
6. A Swan Pye [the showpiece: a pie with the dead swan’s head, neck, and wings sticking up from it].
7. Three brace of partridge, three larded.
8. Made dish in puff paste.
9. Bolonia sausages, and anchoves, mushrooms, and Cavieate, and pickled oysters in a dish.
10. Six teels, three larded.
11. A Gammon of Westphalia Bacon.
12. Ten plovers, five larded.
13. A quince pye, or warden pie [pears or quinces peeled and poached in syrup, then baked whole in a pie].
14. Six woodcocks, 3 larded.
15. A standing Tart in puff-paste, preserved fruits, Pippins, &c.
16. A dish of Larks.
17. Six dried neats [calf] tongues
18. Sturgeon.
19. Powdered [salted] Geese.

And you know, nothing says Christmas like powdered geese and jellies.

No where does it mention how many people were served at this feast. But we can assume it was more than 4!


 English Antique Furniture

Quince Tart or ‘Pastello de poma cotogne’ – or quince tart made from a recipe in Maestro Martino, Libro de arte coquinaria, perhaps the most important cookery text of the early renaissance. The hollowed out quinces are stuffed with bone marrow, sugar and cinnamon and baked on a puff paste base.

If your ambitious and think you’d like to try a Quince Tart or Pie, there are several modern day versions on the internet. You could try the original recipe dated in the 1660’s posted below: (if you can understand it…also the creation of the pastry is just assumed )

Quince Pye Recipe C.1660

Boil your Quinces in Water, sweetened with Sugar, till they be soft, then skin them and take out the Cores; after that boil the Water with a little more Sugar, Cloves, Cinnamon and Lemon peel till it becomes of the thickness of a Syrup; when cold lay your Quinces in Halves or Quarters, scattering Sugar between each Layer; put a pint of the Syrup, or more according to the Biggness of your Pye or Tart, make the Coffin round with close or cut Covers, and bake it pretty well. And thus you may do with Pippins and Pearmains, or with Winter-Fruit, and also with green Codlings.

If this article has you hungry for more, you can always fly to Cumbria and take one of Ivan’s 2 day courses at a cost of $600. Here’s an example of his course on Pie and Pastry Making


 English Antique Furniture

Pies created in the Pastry making course.

Pie Making and Pastry Course:


10 am – Welcome and Introduction to the Course. This course is for those who want to improve the quality of their pastry and to learn to raise pies to a very high standard of workmanship. We will learn how to re-create English historical recipes from the seventeenth to the nineteenth century. Our sources will included recipes from Murrell, May, Kidder, Nott, Francatelli, Mrs Marshall and Gouffé.

10.45 – 13.00 – Hot water crust, freehand pie raising and wooden pie forms – we will make and decorate a number of raised pies from historical sources, including a Cheshire Pork Pie, a Stump Pie and some Marrow Chewitts.

13.00 – 14.00 – Lunch

14.00 – 17.00 – Lining Paste, Cold Water Paste and Metal Pie Forms – Using 19th century pie forms and boards for printing sprig decorations, we will make a very ambitious raised pie based on one of Agnes Marshall’s recipes.

17.00 – 20.00 – Free

20.00 – Historic dinner (lots of pies of course) at Wreay Farm


10.00 – 13.00 A Lamb Pasty – we will make a highly decorative lamb pasty based on a design in Edward Kidder’s beautiful Book Receipts of Pastry and Cookery from the early eighteenth century.

13.00 – 14.00 – Lunch

14.00 – 17.00- Fine Pastry, Torts and Tarts – We will learn to make puff paste and paste royal and make some taffety tarts and a banniet tort.

As much as I love the sounds of all of this I am here in France. I’ve heard from friends that the very same thing exists here. I’ll see what I can find.

Until next time.
Thanks for reading.
Happy Holidays!

Mark LaFleur
The Antique Warehouse
226 SW Marine Drive
Vancouver, BC

Please visit our website at