where julia shopped

Marian ParsonsAll Things Home, Favorite Things, Kitchen, My House69 Comments

One of the things on my to-do list when visiting Paris was to buy a copper sauce pot, either a useable antique one from the flea market or a new one from E. Dehillerin, the kitchen supply store that was Julia Child’s favorite.

The copper at the flea market was mouthwateringly gorgeous, but it was way out of my price range.  Most of the pots were in sets that were thousands of dollars and many of those needed to be re-tinned to be functional.    Beautiful as they were, I decided to wait to purchase a new one.

And I am so glad I did.  I found the perfect copper pot…

MISS MUSTARD SEED TV

Shopping at E. Dehillerin was quite the experience, though!

After a morning cruise on the Seine and a couple of hours at the Louvre, we walked over to E. Dehillerin, which was “just a short walk away”.  Well, it turns out that anything that looks like a short walk in Paris usually isn’t!  We were already tired and it took us about 30 minutes to get there.  I learned that having specific destinations to seek out in an unfamiliar city exposes you to streets you might not see otherwise, though.  The walk took us away from the more common tourist destinations and we were weaving through commuters and locals walking their dogs more than tourists.

I finally spotted the store across the street, recognizing it from their website…

I felt my stomach flip with excitement and it began to bubble over when I saw the copper displayed in the window.  This was it.  I was going to get my copper pot here, in Paris, where Julia Chils and Ina Garten and other famous chefs have bought their cookware.

Oh, how I wish I had taken a picture of the inside of the shop, but it was so tiny and, even though there were only 8-10 shoppers in the whole of the store (us included), it was crowded.  This wasn’t a beautifully styled Williams Sonoma or Sur La Table.  It was a culinary warehouse with dusty display pieces hung from the ceiling and pots and pans filling a peg board in graduated order.  It was narrow aisles with stacked bins that looked more like a good-ole-boy’s hardware store.

Feeling a bit underwhelmed and disoriented, I turned my attention to the copper pots.  These are why we walked all this way.  There were three rows of graduated pots and not one sign to distinguish one row from the other.  There were also no price tags, but just stickers with SKU numbers.  And, instead of looking like shiny, new pots, these looked used and tarnished.  Was this the vintage cookware section? 

I noticed someone flipping through pages of a binder, secured to what is best described as a built-in pulpit.  I figured you must have to look up the price based on the SKU.

For a few minutes, I felt irked and the stuffiness of the store only coaxed that emotion to the surface even more.  Why did this have to be hard and confusing?  Why couldn’t the pieces just have price tags and proper signs and displays, so I could just grab what I want and buy it?  

And I realized that I was carrying my American expectations into a very old Parisian store.  If I wanted to experience this culture, I needed to embrace their process.

I decided the best course of action would be to talk to a store employee, so I could be guided through how to purchase a pan.  I asked a friendly gentleman who was standing by for just this purpose.

He started off by letting me know I could shop their store online and have anything shipped home.

“Yes, I know I can buy these online, but I came here to buy a copper pot here, in Paris, in this store.”

I could see a spark of amusement in his face and a recognition of the fact that it was less about the copper sauce pan and more about the experience.  This copper pot would be my souvenir.

He turned to the rows of copper pots hanging on the wall and then the magic of the store began to unfold.  He excitedly told me about the differences – which ones were tinned lined, stainless steel lined, and why you might want one over the other.  He passed pans to me to appreciate the differences in size and weight.  And we walked over to the book to look up the prices of the pots that drew my interest.

What I loved about this man, who acted more like a host welcoming me into his world, was that he spoke English to me when needed, but otherwise spoke French, using inflection and body language to help me understand.  He was going to meet me where I was in his store, but he was going to make me take a few steps to meet him as well.  It took more time, but it made me feel like I was buying a pot in an old store in Paris, France.  Had I walked into a brand new kitchen store, picked a pot, and scanned it at a self checkout, it just wouldn’t have been the same.

I selected a Mauviel 6.3″ traditional saucepan that was lined with tin.  It was a good everyday size and it wasn’t too large to pack in my suitcase.  (This is the one I picked.)

The host removed a rope guarding the stairs to the basement and started to descend. He motioned for me to follow him, “Come with me to get your pan.  You, too, mom!”

My mom and I followed him down a curvy split staircase into the basement.  It was a low-lit space akin to a wine cellar, but instead of racks filled with bottles, there were shelves filled with cookware.  He led me to the section with the tin-lined copper pots and pans.  “Now…you pick yours.”  There were a few identical pans strung together on a long chain.  I took a handle into my palm and wrapped my fingers around it.  “This one.”

He smiled, unlocked the pan from the chain, and carried it back up the steps for me.

Here is where the process required further explanation.  The pan, lid, and a couple of my other purchases (I also bought a small whisk and a wooden spatula) were brought to a table where the host hand-wrote a slip.

I carried that slip to the checkout, which was about a foot away, to pay for the order.  My finds remained in a small pile on the table.

Once I paid for the goods and filled out the tax papers for reimbursement at the airport, I took my “paid slip” back to the table to have my pieces wrapped and bagged.

The whole process was inefficient, but it ushered me around the store and forced me to interact with three different people along the way and, once I embraced the process, I found delight in it.  In the US, we’re so used to stores becoming more and more efficient.  Here, scan your groceries and bag them as you go, then ring up one slip at a kiosk, and you’re done.  Just order online and we’ll bring it to your car or, even better, right to your door.  You don’t have to engage with anyone.

Any annoyance I felt in the beginning was gone and it was replaced with satisfaction.  I was thankful for the experience and for the contact I had with each person in the store.  I thanked everyone on the way out, especially the “host”.  I wanted to ask for his name or take a picture with him, but I didn’t.  I just walked out the doors and posed in front of the shop, holding my bag, so my mom could document the moment.

I was planning on taking pictures of the pan in our Paris apartment, but everything was thoroughly wrapped as if they were going to be dropped out of a fourth story window.

So, they stayed wrapped until I got them safely home and I’m sort of glad for that.  It was like unwrapping a present I knew I was going to get, but I forgot all of the details.  The hammered copper shimmered and it felt heavier than I remembered.  I set it on my beefy range and it looked right at home.

Yes, you can buy Mauviel pots and pans anywhere, but this one is stamped with “Dehillerin Paris”, so I will always know it is the souvenir from my trip to Paris with my mom.

The beauty of this pan and the excitement about using it encouraged me to get some of my vintage and antique French copper pieces polished and re-tinned, so I can use them as well.  It seems a shame to have them hanging on the pot rack when they could be put to use.  I shipped out a box today and I’ll let you know how they turn out!

where julia shopped

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69 Comments on “where julia shopped”

  1. It’s a beautiful pan and will bring so much joy and many memories each time you use it! That is the best type of souvenir I think! Do you follow @cat_in_france Marian? She is an American married to a Frenchman living in a gorgeous farmhouse in France. She has a monthly shop with gorgeous antique copper pieces that her husband re-tins and cleans up. Loving your posts on your fabulous trip!

  2. First, what a gorgeous copper saucepan and it looks right at home on your stove. The story behind the pot is even better and we as Americans have taken so much of the human element out of every thing we do. So many young people today have no social skills because they communicate only through texts. So its nice to hear that are still some old school places like this that are still doing business like they were years ago. Viva La France!!

  3. Oh, Marian, that pot is a work of art! It’s just beautiful, and I can tell just by looking at it in your pictures that it’s a high quality piece that has “heirloom” written all over it. It’ll last a lifetime and then some! What a wonderful souvenir of your trip to Paris!

  4. Marian, I loved this story! I’m so glad you had that experience, with your French “host”, taking you down to the basement to choose which pot your would adopt as your own! There’s just something about the French, the pride they take in their crafts and their shops – they will not allow it to be rushed, to not be appreciated. I actually had a similar experience in an art pastel shop in Paris, La Maison du Pastel. The co-owner is actually American, but the tiny shop is hundreds of years old, set back from the street inside a courtyard (so that you would miss it if you didn’t know to go through an archway and look around the corner), and it’s only open for 4 hours a week! All of the handmade pastels are in really old wooden boxes that have to be brought down from their slots – I almost felt as if I were choosing a wand at Olivander’s Wand shop! I had gone in with a good idea of the colors I wanted after looking at their website, but of course colors look different on a computer than in real life. My hostess listened to what I wanted (a brighter blue here, a more earthy yellow there…) and together we created a palette of 15 pastels that were from the same establishment as those used by Edgar Degas! It’s all about the aura of place. About doing something that has been done long before you, and will continue to be done for decades or centuries. What an awesome story you now have. There’s nothing like it!

  5. Wow!!! I love your pot. I had that shop on my list of things to do, but we didn’t have time to shop for clothes, perfume or beautiful copper pots. We would get up early and before I realized it was time to go to bed and rest my feet for the next day. The copper pot looks wonderful on your stove too.
    Joyously,
    Betty

  6. This is my dream, I love copper pots, I’m a little envious, but I also want to buy one in Paris. My daughter’s husband when he retired from the Marine Corp bought his wife a set of Copper Pots, like a thank you for living this life with me. When they were living with us, but traveling, they arrived at my house…I opened the large box and one of the many boxes inside…I had to touch and feel them. I think I sat at the kitchen table and just stared for quite a while. I have a few I use, but dang I want a set. Enjoy. 🙂

  7. Marian, what a beautiful copper pot and your story is just as lovely! I so enjoy your writing – another of your artful talents – of a sweet memory and treasure shared with your Mom in Paris.

  8. What a charming tale! Thank you for sharing it with us. Will you also share where you sent your pots to be relined? You have inspired me to have my uncle’s collection spruced up. Thank you.

    1. Yes, I definitely will! I wanted to have mine done first to make sure I like the way they turn out, but I’ll share all about it!

  9. Oh that is the most beautiful copper anything I have ever seen! I love the staircase, just imagine who’s all been walking up and down them over the years!

  10. I love your story. What an experience. Thank you for sharing. What a gorgeous pan !

    I started following you when you put up your yummy backsplash (which I am copying). Thank you.

  11. So cool to hear about the experience so we can appreciate it along with you. Almost wish you could have gotten to take the hand written sale slip home with you. Knowing you, you would frame it and it would look darling! Gorgeous pan!

  12. Oh yes, the experience of buying in Europe is part of the magic. I recall so many little purchases in Italy where they took my e.g. miniature Pinocchio (about the size of my thumb and pulled a sheet of already cut wrapping paper, laid the tiny toy on the paper and cut enough of the paper to wrap it up in a tiny packet and then seal it with a store sticker. Finally a little 2×2″ square packet for my purse. Yes, sigh… I’m also hoping you had success with your re-tinning as I have many copper pots from Damascus Syria that are now only for show, not cooking. In that shop in Damascus, they were just piled in a big cardboard box or two and the box was held together with thin rope! They survived the flight back to Bahrain so it appears every country know what it needed, somehow.

  13. I love the Deliheren store so much. I forgot which chef I first heard about it, maybe the late great Anthony Bourdain but he made a special trip to that store to buy the famous duck press in the front window. Apparently they are very hard to find but a one of a kind item. It does seem very inefficient when you are there and particularity hard to find but it is like no place else in the world.

  14. Love it!!! I feel like a kid waiting for mom to unpack all the goodies she brought back from her trip!!!
    Please share all!!! Can mom (your mom) share her goodies too?
    Everything sounds wonderful.

  15. Simply Beautiful! Love the copper pot and the story behind the purchase!! So glad you were able to shop, visit and enjoy the scenes and experience a little bit of the beautiful and historic places in Paris. It is simply a bucket list trip for anyone considering a trip abroad! I enjoyed my time there in 2000. 🙂

    I noticed the “M” on the handle of the pot…very appropriate for you “Marian” and “Miss Mustard” Seed. Priceless…

  16. My husband’s cousin is a retired, but famous cook and teacher in New York and she bought so much beautiful copper, huge pieces. She helped found the James Beard Foundation with Julia Child. She gave me some beautiful smaller copper pots and pans that I have to admit I’ve never used for cooking. They are new with the labels still on and I use them for decorating and vignettes. I’m not that great a cook so it works out, lol.

  17. I LOVED this post! And I also love that you got the pan that was stamped with the store. We trudged there when we were there last August…..just for the experience. Your wonderful reflections made me relive it all over again. Thanks! And enjoy that beautiful pan……

  18. Loved all of your postings about your trip. Thank you for sharing. It is like being there. I have been with my daughter and son-in-law, but your trip sounds amazing.

  19. Marion, thank you for coming to the realization that the French do things differently than Americans, particularly the older French establishments. Having been to France and other European countries over the years, I’ve seen American bad behavior when they don’t understand that French customs are different. They assume that the rest of world operates as the US does. If they would just remove that from their brain, they would find so many lovely experiences as you did at E. Dehillerin. Congratulations on the pot! A beautiful piece!

  20. What a wonderful story! I too have been to that shop and probably was helped by that same gentleman. I purchased a couple of knives and as he was wrapping them up for me he said (in that incredible accent, of course) “be sure these go in the belly of the plane”. Such great memories!

  21. Just lovely! I love it that you were tired but enjoyed the journey and felt invigorated by the host! I so wish for a pic of him. Is he online anywhere in someone’s pics?

  22. PS. Your nest trip should be to Montreal. It’s very “Frenchy” and so much closer to you!

  23. Merci beaucoup pour la historie amusant de la nouveau casserole du Mademoiselle Graine d’ Moutarde!

  24. Didn’t read all the other posts, but I noticed and thought perfect, to have an ‘M’ on the handle for ‘Marian’!
    It’s a beautiful pot!

  25. Oh, what a neat experience! I love that the host was clearly passionate about the cookware and that he took the time to explain the differences and everything! We are really missing out on that here in the U.S. And your pot is gorgeous! I’ve admired the Mauviel copper pots for a long time. If I ever find myself in Paris again I am going to have to stop in this shop to pick one up! What a fun trip!

  26. Pure magic and perfection in a treasure that will continue to bring you joy. I hope you will explain the difference in tin and stainless.

  27. I have enjoyed every step of your trip and every photo. It seeems a coffee table book would be an amazing thing to put together and share with the world as you have shared with all of your followers. Because i have watched your videos i know your voice so i can hear you speak as i read each word. I know there is so much more coming and look forward to what you share tomorrow.

  28. Your pan is a thing of beauty! If I ever get the chance, I would love to have this experience, too. Your story reminds me of Julia Child’s experiences she wrote about in My Life in France. It was about connection to the people, interaction and letting them know she was interested in them, their stories and their lives, which made all the difference in her enjoyment of living in Paris and acceptance by the people she encountered.

  29. I have two Mauviel pots. One is from Normandy where they are made, brought home by my best friend. The other was purchased by my son at Dehillerin. One day I hope to get over there myself and buy a third.

  30. What a fabulous story, Marian and a special memory! I got goosebumps! Purchasing the pan online just would not be the same! I wish you many happy meals with your Parisian copper pan!

  31. I love reading your stories about your trip. The pictures are wonderful & I love how they take care of their older buildings. Here, they would be ripping them down & putting up something square & loaded with concrete. I was reminded of that when I saw the picture of the stairs you had to walk on to get your copper saucepan. How wonderful to think of the hundreds & hundreds of people who walked those stairs or on their streets!! We should be loving & caring of our older buildings!! Keep the stories coming!!

  32. I love your new pot and loved the whole exciting story concerning buying it. Thanks for sharing your trip to Paris.

  33. I’ve enjoyed reading about your trip, but THIS story touched my heart. Thank you for telling it so well. Barbara in St Paul

  34. I’ve only been to Europe twice but I noticed both times that I’m impatient. I have to remind myself to enjoy the moments. Yes, it takes longer but it’s worth it. I found the people in Paris delightful and eager to help. Your pot is just gorgeous. What a wonderful souvenir. Your experience reminded me of shopping in Chanel. It was thrilling.

  35. Love France and the French. Love how they do things too. The pot is beautiful! Yes do explain the difference between tinned and stainless!

  36. Oh Marian,

    What a beautiful story!!!! The new saucepan looks superb on your stovetop. And you do write so beautifully! Thank you for sharing. I look forward to the rest of your adventure.

  37. What a great story! I’m sure the shopping experience makes the copper pot that much more special.

  38. Love your souvenir!
    Yes, please explain about the difference between tinned and stainless.🙋‍♀️

  39. All of my French copper pots need re-tinning. Please share where to have this done. Thank you. Your pot is exquisite as was your experience!

  40. What can one say but simply a beautiful story… You explain perfectly the sad truth of the American buying trends. You are such a sweet inspiration. Simply thank you

  41. What a wonderful, memorable experience!!!!!! I’d be like you…I want the pot from HERE! 🙂 . You mentioned being taken to streets and paths that were off the beaten path getting to the store…this is my favorite things to do when traveling. Get to the neighborhoods and be with the locals! The “pot adventure” story had me smiling ((that sounds a little bit off, maybe I should say “copper pot adventure”!!)) ha. Loved watching and reading about your adventure.

  42. That pot just absolutely takes my breath away, and the story of how you bought it too! What a PERFECT souvenier of the feeling and magic of your trip. 🙂

  43. Someone else may have said this already (I didn’t read through the 56 comments) — I love that the pan is stamped with an “M.” 🙂

  44. THIS POST!
    I just LOVE the description of the experience you had…it makes me want to get to Paris, and that store, now! I love it. I have loved many of your posts… but I just, really love this one!

  45. Such a wonderful story and memory for you! I had similar experiences when in Scotland. One of my favorite things to do (whether at home or away), is talk with strangers. Drives my husband nuts, but I meet so many interesting people. If people just take the time to try to understand (or, at, tolerate) the culture they are in, it makes everything better.
    I rarely buy anything online and I don’t use self-check. I am the odd duck who prefers human interaction…although, I can and do get impatient sometimes. Thanks for the reminder tom slow down.

  46. Your pot is gorgeous! What a wonderful memory of your trip.

    Could you incorporate those steps into one of your paintings? Or just a painting of the steps.

  47. That whole experience sounds wonderful, and I love the pot. It would be nice if you could let us know the different uses for tin-lined and stainless steel-lined pots.

  48. What a gorgeous pan, and I would have loved that buying process. I really enjoy interacting with store keepers when they are friendly and helpful. I would love to know what you cook in it. This is a lovely memory for you, and a wonderful souvenir.

  49. On of my favourite places in Paris! It was hot and void of air conditioning when we were there in July, but I had done some reading ahead of our trip and was prepared for everything including the gruff sales help… surprisingly he turned out to be a wonderful part of the experience, cracking little jokes along the way with his heavy french accent. He like the rest of the store had a thick layer of dirt on him and I guess I had already committed to living like a Parisian for a week and this was something to embrace! We drooled over the pots then purchased some terrine molds and Opinel picnic knives, all wrapped in brown paper.

    Glad your pot comes with a story!

  50. The copper pot is beautiful!
    My family vacationed in Paris the end of August. While there, my 18-year old son took a few courses in baking (he aspires to be a chef) – and after the last course, we went to Dehillerin for some supplies. We spent WAAAY more than we expected, but he loved the pieces we did get..and we tend to spoil him a little knowing he’ll be moving out in a few years when he finishes college.
    I had NO idea Julia Child shopped there; that makes the pieces we bought that much more precious (to me anyway…I’m not sure he knows from Julia Child… 8~)

  51. What a great post. Yes, that’s the same feeling I get each time I shop in Provence. It’s the tradition, the pride the shop owners have for their goods and the experience of the excitement you still have once you get your treasures home. Shopping on line or in our US stores just can’t compare. Great score- the pot is beautiful.

  52. Oh this story made me smile! It brought back memories of my own experience there too… shuffling between people in the very narrow aisles. Laughing to myself that there were no prices! The big giant book. I purchased some tart pans as I couldn’t find what I was looking for in the Us. Wanted a copper pot but literally no room I. The suictase. I love our wooden spoon from there too, wish we bought more!

  53. Loved hearing about your visit to this lovely shop. I bought a couple wooden spoons there and my daughters surprised me with an apron bearing their logo. Every time I use them, it takes me back…

  54. Such a beautiful post. I adore the tins~ the colors are perfect and I too would have been happy to find them. The sheet is beautiful and looks fresh and in great shape. And the copper pot~ such a treat to have been where Julia shopped and to have bought it the Parisian way~. I well know the feeling of excitement of an outing and not finding anything … it looks like you found everything your heart desired. Thank you for sharing your journey Marian.

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