A BROCANTE IN BURGUNDY by Phil Coppleston
Four years ago, it was all change for David and Jane Gratton. They left the quintessential Englishness of the Cotswolds to start a new life in Bissy sur Fley in Burgundy.
“We used to holiday there and fell in love with the region, its diversity of landscape and the French way of life” says David, who joined forces with wife Jane to create a thriving business dealing in antiques and decorative objects.
They set about finding the right home for them and discovered it in a beautiful 200 year old building. “When we first saw it we called it our Hansel and Gretel house, it was covered in thick ivy and we had to beat a path to the front door through dense undergrowth” says Jane.
“To us the house was particularly appealing because of its setting in the heart of a small village which only had 80 residents. The entire village is a designated conservation area because of its ruined château and pretty little Romanesque church“.
Despite the house not having been lived in for 20 years, the fabric of the building was structurally sound and they were able to do all the renovation work themselves.
After 18 months of ‘hard labour’, they were rewarded by being able to view the glorious rolling Burgundy countryside, vineyards, fields of sunflowers and grazing Charollais cattle through the windows of their beautifully restored home.
Both David and Jane share a passion for antiques. “It’s the exquisite quality and aesthetic appeal of old crafted objects and furniture that delights us” says David.
The simple rustic style has defined their look. “Everything we sell is in natural tones and has an understated appeal, helping our customers to create a more pared down, modern take on country style. Natural materials like Burgundy linen, leather, wool all age well and feature in our offer. We even once had a copper bath, originally from a hotel in a spa town!” says Jane.
David and Jane had no qualms about starting a Brocante in Burgundy and travelling back and forth to Britain. They were confident of building a good English client base. “The British and Americans respond enthusiastically towards French antiques and linen,” says Jane, “hand stitched and embroidered pure linen sheets look wonderful turned back over a quilt or floral bedcover and the plain hemp material makes great curtains and upholstery. I launder everything myself, quite a labour of love!”.
Their French neighbours, on the other hand, do not find old furniture and decorative items appealing, preferring to buy new. “They are always amused and bemused by the English market and are always surprised by what we buy and sell” says Jane.
David and Jane Gratton are currently revising their Website but can be contacted at [email protected]
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