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A two hour drive from Paris, on the northern doorstep of Burgundy and bordering on the Champagne region, you will find the small town of Saint-Florentin, a veritable treasure trove of brocante or bric-a-brac, and antique shops. On the road between Troyes and Auxerre, this little known town stands on the river Armançon and the Canal de Bourgogne. The port is to be rejuvenated to welcome hotel barges and canal cruisers en route through Burgundy.
At the centre of the town is St-Florentin’s church with its century old gargoyles peering down from the arches. The church is known for its 16thC stained glass windows from the ‘Troyes school’ and the rood screen and sculptures are worth a look. In the middle of the church sits a statue of St Florentin, astride his horse. You can pick up the keys from the Tourist Office around the corner and
The Maison de Patrimoine is housed in a beautiful half-timbered house hidden in the old quarter of town, not far away from the church, and offers exhibitions of local amateur artists and occasional also a professional artist.
treasure trove of antiques and brocante
But for antique and brocante lovers, visit the market in the square with the dragon fountain, and throughout the year, take a wander around the shops which will bring unexpected finds. Take for instance, the surrealist paintings of François Boucheix. He is a famous French painter from the 1960s and you can find several of his works in the gallery Maison Duaux. At Daniel Duaux's place you have a large choice of paintings, sculptures and “barbotines” or stoneware pitches in all possible shapes and sizes, from a parrot to a horse. He is also a passionate postcard collector. Name your place in France, even in Holland and he will probably have a postcard of it from between 1930 and 1960.
Down into the Grande Rue you will find Laurent Thévenot’s Le Temps Retrouvé. His passion is antique porcelain and he offers a wide range of tea services, dinner sets, tazza's, fruit stands, cheese plates and even a complete furniture stand with porcelain bowls to wash your hands at the table or a porcelain jewellery cabinet with drawers and a mirror. If you are a fan of Limoges, Gien or Meissen then this is the place to be. Laurent also offers beautiful furniture, chandeliers, tableware, paintings, boxes and unusual “abat-jour”. Abat-jour literally comes from abat (break down) and jour is light and at Laurent’s this stands for beautiful lampshades.
Just opposite lies the upholstery shop of Edgard le Tapissier and the art gallery of Laure's Univers. Most of the time you will find Edgard working at the back of his shop on a chair or a sofa, so you can sniff around in his collection of brocante glassware, lamps and what the french call bibelots. He has a huge depot of chairs and a wide range of fabrics to choose from. At l'Univers de Laure you can discover contemporary works of art from local and Parisian artists. She specializes in art at reasonable prices, so there are originals available for every budget.
Next to the marché couvert or the ‘covered market’ you will find the wonderful world of Eurobroc, run by Christine and Antonio. The couple offers a wide range of curious artefacts, antique furniture, brocante, paintings, lamps, books, sculptures and they have a large courtyard with garden furniture and decorations. They also do house clearances and this offers new finds on a regular basis.
For more information or to find a gilding specialist (a doreur), a restorer for your antiques (furniture or paintings) or if you are looking for French antique and estate jewellery, have look at: www.burgundyantiques.com.
Go antique hunting in St-Florentin, see: You Tube
Dates of the markets and salons
The markets are held: first Saturday in July, August and September
The antique salon: May --, 2013 in Les Halles
Research and photos: Lara Lunow
places to stay
Comparative, competitive prices and you can book online now with Auto Europe
getting to and from st-florentin
Pam Elson ©burgundytoday.com