Today I’m celebrating the crocks, jars, pitchers and bowls that complete our kitchen here at FrenchGardenHouse, French Country Pottery! It is one of the most favorite things I always search for on any buying trip, this rustic, simple but sturdy French pottery. Are you a collector? Read this post about French Country Pottery and if you aren’t, I’m almost certain you will become one!
 

 
French Country Pottery
 
For centuries in French kitchens, the earthenware pots, jars, jugs and bowls were use to preserve food, to collect milk for making cheese, for rinsing tomatoes plucked right out of the potager.  Not to mention for serving wine, for washing up dishes in a large bowl, {sometimes a baby!} and as food storage. Basically, there is a pottery piece for almost everything that happened in a kitchen, at the table, or on a farm.
 
French Country Pottery
 
The first time I spied an antique piece of French pottery at a brocante, the dealer told me it was called Poterie en Grès {sandstone}. It’s also called Terre-Cuite {terra cotta}, or salt-glazed pottery.  The piece I fell in love with was a large bowl glazed in brown and black, with cracks, chips and plenty of wear. Mr. FrenchGardenHouse wasn’t as completely smitten as I was, but being a good sport, he lugged it around for the rest of the morning for me. And so my love affair began. {not with the Mr. – we’d already been married a few decades.} To this day, my perfectly imperfect French Country pottery bowl sits in the family room, and serves up our apples or oranges.

 

antique rare cruche

 

History of French Country Pottery

 

French Country pottery has been made for centuries in France. There are so many different kinds, it’s impossible to talk about all of them here. I’m just highlighting some of my {your!} favorites.
 

French pottery

 

CONFIT POTS

 

Before refrigeration, clay pots were used in France to keep food from spoiling. The word confit, from the French word confire,  means to preserve. Confit pots were made of local clay, then glazed inside and on the top half of the pot. The bottom was left unglazed, because the pots, once filled with food, would be buried in the cool earth in the cellar.
 
French cooks would make meat dishes, mostly meat in fat such as confit de canard {a dish made with chopped up duck} and fill a confit pot, then bury it in the ground. This dish would be eaten from during the cold winter months.  A great favorite of the French, every home would have had at least one confit pot like this for storage. Rumor has it that King Henri IV of France, loved and missed the classic duck delicacy from Gascony where he was born so much that he had barrels of it sent to him in Paris during his reign.

 

Antique French Armoire
 
Confit pots come in many shapes and sizes and are most often golden yellow. The greener ones as well as small confit pots are the most rare to find, and therefore more desirable.  Chips, imperfections and glaze drips point to authenticity, it’s what you want to see in confit pots.
 
antique french preserving pot

 

PRESERVING POTS

 
There are also many different kinds of smaller antique preserving pots, these were glazed because they were to be placed inside a cool limestone larder at the top of the cellar, not buried in the ground. Most are round in form, and can range in any size from a small crock that held butter to a larger pot with one or two handles. Most of these have more simple glazes in cream, greige, or brown.

 

Antique French stoneware

 

These are amongst my very favorites, because they are such multi-taskers! Large ones can hold your cooking utensils near your range, smaller ones can hold silverware, flowers, breadsticks, really they can do everything.

 
antique French yello cruche
green glazed gargolette

 

CRUCHE & GARGOULETTE

 

A cruche is a pottery jug with handles. They have a spout, sometimes a lid, these water jugs were often also half glazed if they were kept in the cellar for cooling, but many have gorgeous glazing all over. The largest cruches were brought to the spring or well to collect the daily water for a household. Smaller ones were often tied to a horse or the farmer himself to bring water to the fields on hot days.

 

French Country pottery

 
Similar to a cruche is a gargoulette.  Often dealers these days call them both, I think the difference is that the gargoulette has a long thinner spout so several people could take a drink from it without having to touch it with their lips. Don’t quote me, I’m not a 100% sure, let’s just say they are the water bottles of the past. Smaller gargoulettes would be worn on a belt to go out to the fields.

 
antique French yellow tian

 

TIANS

 

Wide mouthed and narrow at the base, these large French bowls or basins were originally made in Narbonne, France. These French Country dairy bowls were called a Tian or Jatte. This type of pottery bowl was made in the 1800s and into the early 1900s in France for letting cream rise to the top from a bucket of fresh milk. The large surface area at the top of the bowl allowed the farmer to skim the cream off the top.
 
These are getting more rare to find, they are glazed on the inside in the golden yellow of Provence, or green. The one that began my love affair with antique French Country pottery is black, which I have never actually seen anywhere again. {she’s a keeper!}
 
antique French calvados jug

 

STORAGE JUGS

 

There are so many beautiful country pieces used for storage of liquids. Large, these were used for storing oils, alcohol, and any other liquids used in households in the 19th century. The one below was used to store Calvados, that delicious apple brandy made in Normandy. They have such a presence…and are wonderful even without the Calvados.

 

French country antiques

 

There are so many other kinds of antique French Country Pottery, I can’t name them all! What I will say about them is that I’ve really never met one I didn’t like, at least, if not L O V E.

 

antique French Prevelles pitcher

 

Be creative with your collection of antique pottery from France. Other than using them in the kitchen, use all of them for flowers or branches from your garden. Serve olives, jam, those little French pickles cornichons on your next charcuterie board in some of the smaller versions. Use your large dairy bowls to hold fruit like we do here at FrenchGardenHouse, or as a centerpiece on your kitchen island filled with vegetables.
 
If none of this appeals to you, then create a grouping on your French buffet, on your dining room table, or on shelves. No matter what you do with them, these antique French Country pottery pieces will add a touch of French Country charm to your home.

 
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