I created the shop concept and the website in 2011, during our first year of relocating from the States to Normandy, in France. Prior to moving here, my husband and I had a French antique business, and I wanted to continue shopping for, and sharing, vintage items and antiques that I found at weekend flea markets and brocantes. Eventually, the shop evolved to include ‘French Lifestyle Essentials’, which are some of my favourite things that I use, and live with in my home; linens, kitchen tools and tableware, housewares and items traditionally found in French homes. The shop name came from our Sunday excursions to small countryside second-hand markets here, known as ‘brocantes’, hence the name ‘Sunday Brocantes’. We added the brand name ‘Rabbit Hill’ after finding our ‘maison de rêves‘, our dream farm home in 2013.
The online shop, Sunday Brocantes, is open once a month, on the first day of the month (or close to it), remaining open for 24 hours. Although most of the buyers reside in the USA, I sell to buyers, and ship to worldwide destinations including; Canada, Australia, Japan, Italy, Turkey, Malaysia, and Poland. My buyers are people that love French vintage, and the French lifestyle. Some dream of shopping at a flea market in France, or taking a trip here, and many wish to have elements of the French culture and life in their own homes.
Having the online shop combines my passions for styling, photography and writing. I adore photographing the items for the shop, researching, and writing the descriptions of the pieces that reflect stories of the French life and history. I have always been involved in visual arts and décor, and this lends itself to my ability to style and provide inspiration to those wanting to add authentic French touches to their homes. When we found our home in Normandy, it immediately brought all of my ideas for the brand of the shop together; rustic simplicity with old world elegance, the French ‘farm life’ or ‘vie campagne’, and soon after we settled, we began offering vintage shopping tours. Last Spring, I began hosting markets tours and cooking workshops in my kitchen here at Rabbit Hill, in Normandy, which are perfectly suited to foodies and Francophiles, and offer an authentic experience of French country cooking, its lifestyle and traditions. The courses run from a half day up to four days, and will include trips to the local markets for produce and goods, shopping at speciality shops, menu planning and cooking, a visit with our farm family, and maybe even a visit to a flea market…or two! For further details on the workshops visit Sunday Brocantes Workshops.
My hobbies include everything to do with our little farm, where we care for Alpine goats, chickens, Toulouse geese, and a small lavender field. I sell organic lavender in the shop, and soap made from our goat’s milk. One of the things I love most about having the shop is connecting with creative and inspiring people, and it’s even better when they sign up for a cooking workshop and come visit Rabbit Hill, so we can meet in person! I mainly collect vintage culinary tools that decorate, and are used in my kitchen…such as cutting boards, copperware, knives and porcelain. One of my most recent passions is buying and restoring copperware, and my husband and I search for high quality copper pieces, and restore it for use in the home kitchen. We only look for top vintage brands like Mauviel and Villedieu les Poele in Normandy, or cookware made for famous kitchen shops like E. Dehillerin, the 190 year old kitchen supply store on the Rue Coquilliere in Paris. The cookware must be made in France, stamped, marked, and our favourite finds are when the pot or pan is marked with the initials of the chef or restaurant where the copper pot was used. All of the restoration and tinning is undertaken at Rabbit Hill.
Cat Bude On Sunday Brocantes
I am very happy to stay on this path, creating the workshops, and sharing our lifestyle here through the online shop. There are so many areas of France that I have yet to explore and hope to do so in the future.
By Stephanie Bateman Sweet The Lifestyle Editor
Photographs © Cat Bude