If you’re on a vacation (or a “holiday” for my UK readers) to Europe, you may happen to have the opportunity to purchase some copper cookware while visiting France. If your not so lucky, please don’t fret. Premium cookware is also available via the internet – check out my guide assist you. I was lucky enough to load up (on mostly second hand pieces – I love my tinned lined pans!) when my husband was stationed at the NATO headquarters just across the border in Belgium.
Copper cooking vessels line a wall of an old Chateau in Normandy.
Copper pots, pans, and other vessels are also commonly available both second hand and new in the other western European countries but I really don’t have any experience with these locations (at least as far as cookware goes) so I’m sticking to France. Perhaps some of you may know various locations? If so please feel free to add your input below.
The first and most obvious location to check is the world famous (at least in cooking circles) E. Dehillerin Boutique located at 18 et 20 rue Coquillière 75001 in Paris. I would highly recommend bringing a native French speaker with you. Tip – make friends with a Dutch person – most of them speak four or five languages. Most of the clerks at Dehillerin speak a little English but they don’t like to and don’t try to pass off some iffy French you learned in high school. The French stereotype runs strong at this store. That being said, it is definitely worth a visit.
Another piece of advice – don’t try during lunch as they are closed. You’ll find that as you work your way from north to south in western Europe the “living to work and working to live” philosophy does a 180 with the French somewhere in the middle – the do however take meal times vary seriously.
E. Dehillerin’s Storefront
While at Dehillerin’s, if you like tinned rather stainless steel linings, insist that you can look at their Extra Fort examples. These will be the thicker pieces – 3mm thick and most of them were probably made 30 or more years ago – usually these were crafted by Mauviel but stamped with Dehillerin’s mark. You will probably need to use a little cajoling and influence to get the clerk to actually do this – they will often try to sell the newer, thinner stuff. I don’t know if there is higher commission on these pieces or if they are hording some of the older, thicker pieces that they can’t easily replace.
Inside of E. Dehillerin
Another shop that is nearby (and I believe they have multiple locations – I’m not sure as my French is lousy), is La Bovida. The store that I’m familiar with is located at 36 Rue Montmartre, 75001 Paris – in the same district as E. Dehillerin. The too have a pretty decent inventory which includes a few lesser known makers that aren’t available at E. Dehllerin.
La Bovida’s Storefront in Paris
Another copper cookware mecca worth considering is the Village of Villeneuve in Normandy, the traditional home of French coppersmiths, and where a small cottage industry still exists.
Villeneuve in Normandy
The absolute best way – if you like tinned copper instead of stainless , if you’ve got the time, and if you don’t mind used pieces – is to get out amongst the flea markets, junk shops, and antique stores and dig around. This is where the real gold lies and the real savings begin. It is possible to find some of the old, nice and thick copperware. You can look for makers such as the now defunct, Gaillard, whose pieces are legendary but don’t be afraid to buy some unmarked pieces. Most vessels were never stamped or if they were, they were stamped by the seller and not the maker. Look for thickness and craftsmanship instead.
Copperware at a fleemarket in Nice, France
However, if you are looking for other forms of cookware such as porcelain coated cast iron, it is definitely cheaper to get it in the US or your home country – especially once you factor in VAT (20%) and additional luggage fees. Also, if you looking for the more common type of copper cookware and are set on stainless lined (which are quite good), you may not save too much money and it may just be easier to purchase a set from somewhere like Williams-Sonoma or for the least hassle, just order from Amazon.
I was lucky enough able to load up on the good stuff thanks to free shipping for the family’s household goods thanks to US Army.
Good Cooking and Good Eating
About Lynne Jaques
Lynne is a stay-at-home mother of two boys. As a former US military officer and the spouse of an active duty US military member, Lynne enjoys traveling the world (although not the moving part!) and finding new cuisine and methods of preparing food. She also has the habit of using parenthesis way too much!