Early Birds

Today it is (yet another) public holiday here in France.  We got up early because, we both need to drive to the airport this afternoon, one of us to leave for a few days and the other to pick up Mlle Tialys the elder who is visiting  home for the rest of the month to get her breath back after the endless parties and general student goings on studying of the past university year.  But first we wanted to go to a plant and brocante market and the village which holds this annual event also has its usual market day on Monday mornings so it gets absolutely packed and it is difficult to park, walk or breathe if you leave it too late.  Ask me how I know.  Also it is really  hot at the moment and it is better to get these things done in the relative cool of the morning.

Garden Gargoyle

Not a photo of me this morning – though quite close.  Do you think he looks prettier for having a rose growing behind his ear?  This had happened by accident, not design, which is why I took the photo.

We went to the market with the intention of buying a plant or tree to go over the final resting place of our old German Shepherd, Phoebe, who died last year and was buried (with much exertion and dedication – she weighed 45kg) on one of the higher terraces in our garden.  At the moment she is covered in Iris flowers but we wanted something more permanent.  However, it was mostly herbaceous plants for sale so we ended up with a plumbago for the terrace


and a bignone for somewhere else in the garden but we don’t know where yet.


Of course the brocante part was not neglected and I found this lovely brass cherub holding aloft a diamond cut glass coupe surrounded by flying birds.  Over the top?  Mais, non!  Well, a bit I suppose but it is very Paris Appartment as I like to call this style (or Hollywood Glamour if you prefer)


I have an obsession with old French cutting boards at the moment. I love that they were probably made by the man of the house and used to death for years and years.  I love the primitive way they have been fashioned, the visible marks of years of use and the grain and texture of the wood.   Most of them I find are in an unloved state but I give them a light sanding and a coat or two of food safe oil and this usually brings the grain up to its former glory.  These old cutting boards are made in very primitive fashion, practically hewn out of the trunk – I’ve had some still with the bark on before.  They are generally really thick and chunky and lopsided, covered in knife cuts and with deep depressions where food has been chopped or bread sliced for many years.  They are gorgeous.

Here are some I’ve had in the past all with their own characters and now in new homes for an even more extended useful (or decorative) life.

Old French Chopping Board

It doesn’t matter if they are split, scratched and holey.

Large French Chopping Board

This handle has worn smooth with use and has a deep depression in the centre where most of the chopping and cutting went on.

Primitive French Chopping BoardI’m not sure how much wine had been consumed when this one was made – look at the handle and the remains of bark.

Old French Bread Board with Knot

A lovely big knot in this one.

Usually, I am persuaded(!) that we cannot keep more than one cutting board – although I have kept a gorgeous small version which is easily concealed – but today I found one that I won’t be parting with.

It weighs nearly 3kg (around 6.6lbs)

antique french chopping boardit is 46cm (18 inches) long and 8cm (3 inches) thick in places

Antique French Bread Boardand whoever made it carved his initials into the handle

French Chopping Board with Initials

what’s not to love?

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  1. #1 by katechiconi on June 9, 2014 - 13:17

    That piece of chopping fabulousness looks like walnut… And I do so know what you mean about needing to do things early in the morning before places get too hot and crowded!

    • #2 by tialys on June 11, 2014 - 10:15

      It may well be walnut – very common around here. I might not be able to chop on it – but will definitely serve on it or just look at it.

      • #3 by katechiconi on June 11, 2014 - 10:18

        It would look particularly fetching with some cheeses, rustic bread and a dish of olives. Or is that just my rumbling stomach talking?

      • #4 by tialys on June 11, 2014 - 10:23

        You read my mind. I often try to convince everybody that’s all they need to eat on a hot summer’s day and, sometimes, if I throw in a couple of glasses of wine, I succeed.

  2. #5 by lovelucie1 on June 10, 2014 - 13:45

    Fabulous boards. I can see why they find new homes.

    • #6 by tialys on June 11, 2014 - 10:16

      They are one of those things I find hard to part with so I press them into service around the place and hope they go unnoticed. I’m still not sure how I’ve managed to get away with having six antique mannequins as they are a bit more difficult to conceal. Luckily, there are three floors in this house!

      • #7 by lovelucie1 on June 11, 2014 - 11:13

        Sounds like my dream place

  3. #8 by Jodie on June 10, 2014 - 14:45

    Those boards are gorgeous….I never think of France being hot… Weird .

    • #9 by tialys on June 11, 2014 - 10:19

      Well, the North of France is generally not too hot – too close to England!! – but the South can be very hot and dry and we are not far from the Spanish border here. However, it doesn’t generally get up to your sort of temperatures luckily as our air conditioning consists of opening a door at each end of the house and hoping a draft comes through!

  4. #10 by Wendy on June 11, 2014 - 10:00

    It have just found your blog – I so enjoy reading it, you have inspired me to do a little quilting – thank you

    • #11 by tialys on June 11, 2014 - 10:20

      Thank you Wendy. You must let me know how you get on.

  5. #12 by Jan Marriott on June 11, 2014 - 17:13

    Antique chopping blocks! what a wonderful thing to collect, handsome and useful. A couple of years ago we stayed near Villefranche, it was, indeed, brocante paradise.

    • #13 by tialys on June 11, 2014 - 17:40

      Plus they take up less room than the mannequins!

  6. #14 by Rokko Miyoshi on August 9, 2016 - 14:24

    Hello, do you sell any of these cutting boards. I am interested in buying some. Thank you and best regards.

    • #15 by tialys on August 9, 2016 - 14:39

      Hello there – wow! you have found quite an old blog post of mine. I do have quite a collection of bread boards – although the ones shown here are all gone. I have different shapes, sizes, thicknesses, etc. Shall I email you?

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