WHAT VALUES INSPIRE US?
A poor quality product only creates frustration. We feel “taken advantage of” and deceived. One year, our 3-year old son received a low-cost plastic bulldozer for Christmas. Though beautifully packaged, it was a nice toy but of terrible quality: almost immediately out of the box, it stopped working – to his dismay and ours. A thought crossed our minds, perhaps a bit silly: are the companies which made these toys just laughing at us? Are they making toys to satisfy our ever-growing consumption demands, without any dedication to the quality of the product, almost “sabotaging” its original concept? With Vacances Françaises, you won’t find sophisticated, overly-fancy gimmicks or reproductions. On the contrary, you’ll find toys and games which have stood the test of time, and are only enhanced by the patina and memories infused into something well-loved and used through the years. A simple set of hand-crafted wooden dominos from Jura that your children will want to leave to their own grandchildren (complete with the stories behind them!). Our prices for such timeless items start at 1€ for something as simple as a wooden spinning top. Kids love it! Didn’t we all?
Making the Ordinary Extraordinary
The products we select at Vacances Françaises correspond to simple gestures, rituals and traditions that enhance daily life. They are authentic, low-tech products, which reinforce manual use. Wouldn’t you prefer washing your hands with a pure vegetable soap from Marseille (you have 30 flavors to choose from and sample!), perfuming yourself with original scents from Grasse, walking around the house in real espadrilles from the Basque country (as natural and light as they are comfortable), drawing on real, pressed vellum paper from Paris, drying your hands on an original cotton dish towel from Armentieres in the north, dining on a beautiful linen tablecloth, wearing a luxurious cotton T-shirt made with love in the Dordogne, making your meals using a chef’s knife with an intricate, hand-crafted olive-wood handle, and steel hand-forged in Thiers? All of these products, not only because they are beautiful and useful, but have a singular texture and weight-in-hand that identify their quality, will de-stress and inspire you. These distinctions are not only the hallmark of great quality, but also the characteristics sought-after by connoisseurs the world over.
Texture, Genius and Beauty
Our products will make you feel good because they all embody three secrets: their uniquetexture, the genius of their craftmanship and the beauty of their design. Linen, wood, copper, leather, cotton, vellum, brown paper, wax : most of our products are distinguished by the texture of their material, pleasant and familiar to the touch. They are sturdy and indestructible in use and are, truly a long-term investment. Finally, they are beautiful and each embody French style and artistry.
Surely haven’t we arrived at consumption’s end result, that favors quantity over quality? Standardization to the detriment of originality? Is now not the time to consume not just less, but more intelligently? The richness of France lies in its diversity, in its “theatrical cloak” in the words of the noted academic Michel Serres. Isn’t it timely now, to appreciate and value the simple integrity of time-tested artistry and skill? Did we make any mistakes by re-locating and therefore diluting this know-how? Not only have jobs been sacrificed, but also knowledge, gestures, and “savoir-faire”, threaten to disappear as well as the foundation of a country’s cultural diversity. What jobs will we pass on to our children if we don’t promote the thoughtful preservation of this kind of local expertise? Believing in progress is not in denying its roots, rather in learning from it. This means preciously preserving the best of the past, and thoughtfully integrating it with the present.
Ethics and Solidarity
Vacances Françaises is an endeavor dedicated to ethics and environmental sensivity: planting the seeds of good around us, making people happy by providing them with honest, beautiful products at reasonable prices and in doing so, providing work to those who need it and who love what they do. I remember the fair trade trend in the 90’s. Now more than ever, we need local fair trade! By purchasing a product made in France you demonstrate solidarity with local craftsmen and women who manufacture in “the Hexagon”.
Pleasure and Optimism
This movement literally breathes joy and optimism! The optimism of mutual solidarity and unity to share the inventive creativity and history of this beautiful country. That’s the fundamental reason why this website is called Vacances Françaises. Holiday time is a period that renders us more reflective and also introspective. A time when we pause to make, create and absorb more; thinking of our families, friends and those around us on a larger scale. It’s a time to meet new people, a time when our senses are awakened, when our spirits are uplifted and more receptive to life. According to Ted Stanger, author of the book A French Obsession: “Somewhere in their hearts, the French know that holidays and leisure are more than just a brand, such as regional products or luxury industries. They are their real vocation, their destiny. ”
Corinne Gruat & Patrice Civanyan