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Quoi de neuf: Shopping in January

New products, designs and ideas from around France

Go Mad for a galette

Meaning “Good things” in Breton, Traou Mad is the name of a thick shortbread invented in 1920 by Alexis Le Villain, a baker from the pretty, artist-magnet village of Pont-Aven in Finistère. 

In the 1950s, his daughter Marguerite turned this local success into a company and while the basic buttery recipe has remained unchanged in 97 years – even despite the recent beurre shortage – the company’s product range is wider these days, including both thick and thin galettes.

The village of Pont-Aven is best known for the artistic movement that emerged in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, including regular stays by Paul Gauguin (he first arrived in 1886), Emile Bernard, Paul-Emile Colin and Paul Sérusier.

This artistic heritage has been cleverly harnessed by the Traou Mad de Pont Aven biscuit makers, whose charming tins and boxes make ideal gifts for visiting art pilgrims.

If you cannot make it to the sedate riverside location, do some shopping online – this decorated metal box contains 18 crunchy biscuits in 
packets of two. Price €11.95.

New look for the oldest drink

It may be the oldest alcoholic drink in France – the first reference to it in writing dates back to 1310 – but Armagnac from Gascony has never felt like a more modern liquor.

Emerging from the shadows of Cognac, it has undergone something of a reinvention of late – more so in marketing and rebranding terms than production techniques.

One producer to have modernised the drink’s image in a bid to boost consumption is Laballe, maker of the eau de vie in the region of Bas Armagnac since 1820. Now under the guidance of Cyril Laudet, from the 8th generation of the same family, the brand allies contemporary touches with traditional taste.

This 50cl bottle of 12 Rich, 44.2%APV, costs €52.

Slip these on

It takes real confidence and grand ambition to ‘reinvent the textile tradition in France’ – the stated aim of le Slip Français founder Guillaume Gibault in 2011.

Six years later, this underpant-making pioneer, online retailer and prominent advocate of the ‘Made in France’ ethos – which ensures that every aspect of production happens in France – goes from strength to strength, with shops opening all over France (Paris, Aix-en-Provence, Toulouse, Lyon).

Design and comfort match the job-creating, ‘keep-it-local’ ethos and they also sell socks, hats and slippers. Model shown: €35.

Plate class

The Gien faïencerie (earthenware factory) on the banks of the Loire in Loiret sits at the very top table of French crockery makers. Now, thanks to a collaboration with supermarket chain Monoprix, a new range of their stylish plates can be yours for a snip of the usual price.

Gien’s collection Fleurs Noires (Black Flowers), part of its limited edition line ‘G By Gien’, comprises beautiful black and white drawings of irises, hydrangeas and roses that were discovered in the company’s archive, before being reworked for a modern audience. The result combines poetic elegance from yesteryear and contemporary spirit. Even the box is chic – it is fashioned from Jura poplar wood. Six small ‘mignardises’ plates from €54.

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