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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 you’re not so lucky, please don’t fret. Premium cookware is also available via the internet – check out my guide for assistance.
I was lucky enough to load up (mostly) secondhand pieces – I love my tin-lined pans! – when my husband was stationed at the NATO headquarters just across the border in Belgium.
Copper pots, pans, and other vessels are also commonly available both secondhand 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 have some knowledge to share in other locations? If so, please feel free to add your input below.
Shopping in Paris
The first and most obvious place 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.
A Tip: Make friends with a Dutch person – many of them speak four or five languages. Most of the clerks at Dehillerin speak a little English, but I wouldn’t try to pass off some iffy French you learned in high school. In my experience, the French stereotype runs strong at this store. That being said, it is definitely worth a visit.
Another Piece of Advice: Don’t try to visit 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. They do, however, take mealtimes very seriously.
While at Dehillerin’s, if you like tinned rather than stainless steel linings, I insist that you look at their Extra Fort examples. These will be the thicker pieces – 3 millimeters 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 employ a little cajoling to get the clerk to show you these – they will often try to sell the newer, thinner stuff instead.
Mauviel M’heritage 9-piece 2.5mm Copper Cookware Set with Cast Stainless Steel Handles, available on Amazon
I don’t know if there is higher commission on these pieces or if they are just hoarding some of the older, thicker pieces that they can’t easily replace.
Another shop that is nearby is La Bovida. (I believe they have multiple locations but I’m not sure, as my French is lousy!) The location that I’m familiar with is located at 36 Rue Montmartre, 75001 Paris and it’s in the same district as E. Dehillerin. They, too, have a pretty decent inventory, which also includes a few lesser-known makers that aren’t available at E. Dehllerin.
Outside the City
Another copper cookware mecca worth considering is the Village of Villeneuve in Normandy, the traditional home of French coppersmiths, where a small cottage industry still exists.
The absolute best thing to do when you are here – 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 here. 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 of the older vessels were never stamped, or if they were, they were stamped by the seller and not the manufacturer. Look for thickness of materials and good craftsmanship instead.
Not on the hunt for copper? 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 the VAT (20%) and additional luggage fees.Also, if you are looking for the more common type of copper cookware and are set on stainless lined like the set pictured above (which is quite good), you may not save too much money. It may be easier to purchase a set from somewhere like Williams-Sonoma, or for the least hassle, just order from Amazon.
In my own case, I was lucky enough on my travels to be able to load up on the good stuff, thanks to free shipping for the family’s household goods via the US Army.
Wishing you 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!