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Every American heading for Paris is told to check out the basement of BHV, arguably the world's more extraordinary hardward department, but equally arguably one of the world's most expensive. The housewares departments of the grand magazines carry just about every kitchen or dining room tool and accessory, again at a price.

We always leave home with a shopping list for whatever country store, droguerie, that might be on our route, and my husband should have a transferable bumper sticker that reads "I brake for Mr. Bricolage".

What do we buy? rubber jar rings for pennies and in all sizes; olive oil soap, including those wonderful oval hollow oval bars that fit on a chrome rod (found in lesser loos, but fun for informal washing stations); shrink-to-fit plastic wine bottle covers, for sealing partial bottles you want to transport in a car as well as for homemade alcohols; the best bottle brushes I've ever found, again for pennies compared to home or BHV prices; Laguiole knives at (more) sensible prices.

The list and the lust goes on.

What are your exurban finds?

eGullet member #80.

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I love that savon noir. I like the doorknobs and drawer knobs that you wouldn't find in other countries. Gardening stuff, terra cotta pots which are often local.

I got Loic a wine bottling corking setup from one of these places which was quite cheap and proves amazingly effective for putting up wine bought in bulk at the source. Love the vinegar distilling pots and butter coolers.

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My husband and I are inveterate shoppers and check out stores both in small towns and suburbs whenever we travel. From a tabac/magazine store in a small town in Bretagne (where we stayed at a tiny, now-closed, B&B because our friend who lives nearby breeds cats, to which I am allergic) comes my copy of La Bonne Cuisine Francaise. My brioche pan and fluted tart pan come from the hardware store just outside the Alsacian village where my husband's cousin lives.

SuzySushi

"She sells shiso by the seashore."

My eGullet Foodblog: A Tropical Christmas in the Suburbs

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I love that savon noir.  I like the doorknobs and drawer knobs that you wouldn't find in other countries.  Gardening stuff, terra cotta pots which are often local. 

I got Loic a wine bottling corking setup from one of these places which was quite cheap and proves amazingly effective for putting up wine bought in bulk at the source.  Love the vinegar distilling pots and butter coolers.

Are these things to be found at Mr. Bricolage?

"When planning big social gatherings at our home, I wait until the last minute to tell my wife. I figure she is going to worry either way, so I let her worry for two days rather than two weeks."
-EW
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Whilst being a fan of Mr Bricolage, for those of you who enjoy buying such diverse objects you must like me make an effort to visit the many 'vide greniers' especially in the small villages. Last week i stumbled accross the missing edition of the michelin guide that i had been looking for (1963, 1 euro) i now have every edition to date since 1960.

A piece of Lalique crystal for 7 euros, similar piece in UK 650 euros. The most interesting stuff has to be the age old culinary equipment either in silver, copper or brass. I buy the stuff en masse but never use it i simply admire the craftsmanship that you just don't see anymore.

Leather bound books are piled high, i love the feel of the leather, the quality of the binding, i have no idea what most of the books are about.

sorry if a little off topic.

david

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Whilst being a fan of Mr Bricolage, for those of you who enjoy buying such diverse objects you must like me make an effort to visit the many 'vide greniers' especially in the small villages....

sorry if a little off topic.

david

:wub: Vide greniers and brocantes and food are the triumvirate that bring us to France time after time.

And thanks, Lucy, for the vinegar pot heads up. A friend brought us two different mothers this last Friday.

eGullet member #80.

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I have to weigh in on this M. Bricolage is great and have whole collection of my hard earned Euros.

BUT... They are but a pale shadow of a proper quincaillerie. We are lucky enough to have one in Caylus, a village near to us, they are amazing. All the good old fashioned canning stuff, great pots, pans and containers for everything. Seemingly every bit & bod of hardware one could ever ask for. It goes on & on as does the shop. I swear that they must have at least 6 caves only 4 of which I've been privileged to visit.

Equally, I love brocantes & vide greniers. You just never know what you'll find. Linda & friend recently held a vide grenier to raise money to buy prizes for a village art competition for the children. They raised over 800 Euros.

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We should probably begin a whole new thread for les puces and the vide greniers...

Because of the puce my spoilt kitty eats her rabbit from secondhand limoges teacups. Pretty ones at that.

We awaken before dawn on the Sundays meant to be sunny and with friends score the most amazing things. My friends know my passion for kitchen cooking and food and always call me over to say 'hey' when they spot something good.

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....a proper quincaillerie. We are lucky enough to have one in Caylus, a village near to us, they are amazing. All the good old fashioned canning stuff, great pots, pans and containers for everything. Seemingly every bit & bod of hardware one could ever ask for. It goes on & on as does the shop. I swear that they must have at least 6 caves only 4 of which I've been privileged to visit.

Yes! You said it so much better than I. I think first of the one in Barjac in the Gard.

eGullet member #80.

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