It has been a year since Patrick and Joanne Quillec opened the French Market, specializing in all things French, around the corner from their Cafe Provence restaurant in the Village shopping center.
“We had the idea for the store for a long time,” Joanne Quillec said during a recent visit. “In France, you have a traiteur. You come in on the way home from work and order dinner. At French Market we can do the whole dinner or fill in the blanks.”
Traiteur-style catering is just one of the things offered at the French Market. The shop’s shelves are filled with gourmet delicacies from preserves to chocolate, spices to sardines.
It’s also a great place to find a growing selection of French accents for home and table and gifts. “We’ve added a lot of things,” Quillec said. “We try to source things from France whenever we can; we also find items at market as well as locally.”
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Tell me about some of the new lines you’re carrying.
We recently added Jacquard Francais tea towels. They’re 100 percent cotton and priced from $18 to $24. They last forever and work beautifully and come in different colors and designs. We did have some framed. They’re like little works of art.
Jacquard Francais also makes tablecloths. The designs range from contemporary to classic and traditional, and there are napkins that match. They make a beautiful table, and we have some in holiday patterns.
We also carry bread baskets and tablecloths from the Vero France line. They’re made of coated cotton that can be wiped off, and they come in very traditional Provence patterns from the south of France.
These patterned plates are eye-catching.
They’re made in Belgium by the Chehoma company, and the patterns are in a Parisian flea-market style called Bohemian. The plates are $18; we also carry the Bohemian bowls, which run from $12 to $16.
What about this dinnerware with the mottled finish?
The plates, pitchers, bowls and tureens are from the Jars line. They’re handmade in France. Jars has been making them for a couple hundred years. I saw them in Atlanta at market.
And the painted blue pottery looks very familiar.
Those are Quimper egg cups and bowls. My husband is from Brittany, where the city of Quimper is located. It’s home of Henriot-Quimper, the company known for its handmade, hand-painted pottery with traditional Breton designs.
And you also sell some vintage wares?
I have always loved vintage. I initially brought pieces in to decorate and people wanted to buy them, so I pick things up when I find them. I look for items that are tabletop and French.
What are some of the shop’s best-sellers?
We have fun, French-themed books, including one called “Edible French.” It includes little French sayings and recipes. In France, everything revolves around food.
Our grinders are also very popular. We have salt, pepper and herb grinders, and they’re refillable. People are getting more particular about salts, and we carry a wide variety. We have a truffle salt, a fisherman’s salt mixed with different herbs and a butcher’s salt.
Customers also like these little dishes with the raised nubs — they’re garlic graters.
Do you get many shoppers from France?
There are a couple of hundred French people living in this area. Many are here as a result of Academie Lafayette, the French language immersion grade school, which has brought teachers in from France. French shoppers come here to find the chocolate, cookies, candies, jams and salts that they would buy in France. And they like the Favols fruits in alcohol to put on ice cream or pancakes.
I see you have a few children’s items.
Yes, I love this ABC in French poster. For babies, I recommend Sophie the Giraffe. It’s like a teether. It’s made from natural rubber with no phthalates. We’ll get more for the holidays. Sophie has friends, called Chan Pie Gnon, from the French word for mushroom.
Can you suggest some holiday gifts?
French calendars, sticky notes and magnets with Paris and France motifs. Hand-embroidered lavender sachets. We have one that says “Merci” that is a popular gift for teachers.
We have coffee presses in different sizes that you can pair with our Cafe Provence-blend coffee. I love the little set of different mustards in crocks, and for the sardine lover, we have sardines in a sardine-shaped can.
A lot of people like to give food as gifts, so we do food gift baskets with an assortment of jams, mustards, cookies and other items, in small, medium and large, and they include a tea towel. We’re happy to do custom baskets. And everyone loves our chocolate sauce and caramel sauce. We make them ourselves in the restaurant.
For the holiday season, we’re offering a special menu of holiday food items to take home. And we will have bûche de Noël, the traditional French cake in the shape of log, decorated with marzipan mushrooms and with a buttercream filling.