French Taste-Vins

French Taste-Vin

A Late Victorian Hallmarked Silver Tastevin:

One of the most peculiar and compelling objects is a small, shallow, saucer like bowl, which sometimes has a dome shaped bottom with fluted and engraved decorations on the side — it is called a taste-vin.  It is a wine-tasting cup of French origin, an ancient tasting tool. “Taste-vin,” which is pronounced “Taht-vahN” with a nasal French ending and means”taste wine.”  These traditional wine tasting cups were carried by sommeliers (wine waiters) and were used discreetly by sellers of wine when promoting special wines to potential buyers.  Judging the quality of the wine was imperative.Image result for pictures of sterling silver taste-vins

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Guérande Salt Marshes

The Guérande salt marshes are located in southern Brittany, a region in north-west France, between the mouths of the rivers Loire and Vilaine, along the Atlantic Ocean. They form a very large wetland zone, stretching for nearly 5,000 acres.

 Salt harvesting in this region began in the year 868!

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French Bee Hives

Image result for french bee hives

The History of the Bee Symbol
The ubiquitous Provencal bee has its origins in the old 1st century Merovingian dynasty. Childeric the 1st was the first French king to use the bee as a symbol. A symbol of immortality and resurrection, the bee was chosen so as to link the new dynasty to the very origins of France. Golden bees (in fact, cicadas) were discovered in 1653 in Tournai in Childeric’s tomb.  The original bee was actually shaped more like the cicada, but the symbol has evolved to be more of a honeybee shape. The bee is believed to be one of the oldest symbols of French royalty.

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Container from France has arrived!




Today is an exciting day!  Crown and Colony has been unpacking the latest antiques shipment and transforming the shops with treasures from abroad.   By Monday morning we will have everything new and exciting and wonderful on the floors at Crown and Colony, Aubergine and RF Antique Shops in Fairhope, AL — All the shops are within walking distance to each other — such an advantage for our customers!

The owners of these three shops, Ann and Peter Fargason, travel to France on multiple buying trips throughout the year to curate a collection of special finds and antiques to bring back home to the retail shops.  The trip always begins with a train ride to some wonderful antique show or village.

IMG_2734  Ann about to board a train in France! It was quite cold, but that did not stop her and Peter — the buying was fabulous on this last trip!

 And, the eating of French cuisine was, as usual, a special treat. Below, Ann and Peter about to order lunch at one of their favorite and charming French cafes.  07-IMG_3120

The final choices from the menu:

Seared fish over potatoes and sauteed vegetables.


AND….How could one not love a puff pastry with French cheese inside?


Hotel de Ville with a fresh produce market outside.


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Mardi Gras

Mardi Gras

The celebration of Mardi Gras came to North America from France where it had been celebrated since the Middle Ages.  The origins of Mardi Gras can be traced to medieval Europe, passing through Rome and Venice in the 17th and 18th centuries to the French House of the Bourbons.

                      The actual founding of Mardi Gras was in 1702:Cider Press HIll: New Orleans:

 In 1702 French-Canadian explorer Jean Baptiste Le Moyne Sieur de Bienville established “Fort Louis de la Louisiane” (which is now Mobile). In 1703, the tiny settlement of Fort Louis de la Mobile celebrated America’s very first Mardi Gras. Though most people associate Mardi Gras with New Orleans, Mobile, Alabama, began holding the festival in 1703, 15 years before it started in Louisiana.

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