Françoise and Philippe Fleuriet have a passion for vintage French interiors that runs deep within the fabric of their home. Their vintage style bed and breakfast is tucked away in the Charente region of France, just a short drive from the town of Cognac where the amber tipple has made this sleepy area famous worldwide. The Fleuriet’s little corner of South West France reflects the unspoilt way of life here; gentle, laid back with a nod to a bygone era that’s impossible not to fall in love with.
The Fleuriet’s Rouillac home is open, warm and welcoming with a unique sense of French style. For the past 25 years, Françoise and Philippe have collected beautiful French antiques, furnishings and objects, started a successful artisanal vinegars, soups and conserves business and brought it all together to create a home that is as full of history as the walls that surround it. Their vintage style bed and breakfast accommodation provides a romantic retreat for two, and, as echoed in the main house, is bursting with romantic vintage French charm.
Can’t wait to have a look around? Off we go…
The Fleuriet family art for curating vintage French objets cleverly allows you to appreciate each item in their home in its own merit. The passion for styling their French interior is one that is shared equally by Mme and Monsieur, placing their favourite items in prominent places to draw the eye in and let a little story unfold. It feels homely, interesting and with a million and one beautifully aged items to look at, gives you plenty to talk about around the dinner table.
Philippe has his own particular ideas about how to pull off the vintage look without over-cluttering,”I usually always put items together of a similar style to tell a story and always, always use odd numbers of objects.”
Surprisingly, he is a fan of modern interiors as well as traditional,”I used to live in a city loft space in my youth and love modern French interior design. That said, there’s nothing quite like seeing the knife marks in an old chopping board or the warm hues of a traditional farmhouse table.”
Pots and pans and a traditional Canche oven ensure functionality and style combine harmoniously in the large farmhouse style kitchen. In renovating their property from scratch, Philippe and Françoise have tried to let the traditional style of the house guide them, saving doors where possible and putting back original features like stone fireplaces where they should have been. He likes the way that a house’s imperfections can tell you a lot about the history. “A blocked up window or dark room can be very telling in the history of a house, maybe a room needed to be dark to keep cool or it was too expensive to have windows due to taxes.”
The house was has been a hostelry for many years in different shapes and forms. The old farming town of Rouillac has been host to a large animal and livestock fayre once a month for centuries. In the basement, bed and breakfast guests could put their animals to rest at night while taking a meal and a room upstairs. The link to nearby Cognac is one which Françoise and Philippe bring into their living room decor with ancient bottles, enamelware and publicity.
From the state of the art commercial development kitchen in the main house, the Fleuriet’s have been making artisanal French vinegars from Pineau des Charentes for the past 8 years. The range now includes such delicacies as Ginger conserve for sushi and handmade soups like butternut and courgette. From the potager (vegetable patch) the family use their own produce where possible to create their artisanal soups at Atelier de Conserverie Fleuriet; they export around 25% of the prettily packaged produced to high end delicatessens and epiceries in the US.
Deep within the ancient walls of the Fleuriet’s impressive French farmhouse, a romantic French country cottage gite called “La Petit Maison” sits at the bottom of the garden, the perfect French hideaway for two people. There’s a pool for use during summer months plus use of the pretty, secret gardens that have been planted to resemble a traditional cottage garden style from this sunny area. Philippe and Françoise took the time to find the exactly the right paving and planting for outside to ensure nothing looks out of place.
Step into the vintage style kitchen from the outdoor summer terrace and the charm of reclaimed style instantly seduces you. The kitchen, like in most French interiors forms the heart of the house.
What makes Françoise and Philippe’s outstanding vintage style bed and breakfast so interesting is their ingenious ability to curate their French brocante finds in an interesting and appealing way. It’s about getting the right amount of age with modern comforts like a great bathroom and well equipped kitchen. There’s nothing over cluttered nor over complicated about their interior style, just a gentle appreciation of the French heritage they adore that shines from room to room.
Katie Anderson lives in a tiny village in South West France where she says “everyone knows my name and old ladies ride tandem on tractors with their pinnies tucked into their knickers”! She blogs about jolie French things at www.lovefrenchstyle.com