French Market Baskets

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About French market baskets
When food writer, cook and importer Catherine Bell lived and worked in Provence in the early 80’s she loved the way every French woman carried one of these baskets to the local market each day, filling them with bread, produce and cheese. Several came home with her and are still in use today.

A few years ago Catherine decided that she could play a part in ridding the world of plastic shopping bags and began a rather long journey to try and source these original, genuine French market baskets from Morocco where they have been made for generations, if not centuries. (Basket making is one of the oldest art forms and ancient civilizations produced baskets as containers for the gathering, storing, drying and transporting of food and other things. Traces of baskets have even been found in the pyramids of Egypt).

They are the ultimate sustainable shopping bag. Farmers in the Atlas Mountains produce the bags as a form of secondary income during the winter months. Using traditional methods, they weave strips from fallen palm fronds, which are then sewn together in ‘rounds’ (the more rounds, the larger the bag). Each one, which takes up to eight hours to weave, depending on the size, is unique – no two are quite the same. When new they smell of hay and leather but this wears off with time.

They are then transported to Fez or Marrakesh where they are fitted with sturdy leather handles from goat or cow (a by-product of the meat industry). These are both riveted and stitched to ensure they won’t ever detach.

Handles are either the traditional flat natural leather or round. In addition to natural leather these round handles come in a selection of fashionable colours.

Lightweight and strong, the larger baskets are ideal for supermarket (goes straight from trolley to boot) or farmer’s market shopping, as a beach or pool bag, a weekender or washing basket. They also make perfect picnic hampers. The small and baby baskets make lovely gift hampers or storage baskets at home – for toys, vegetables, knitting or magazines.

They make a perfect present – in their own right or filled with treasures. They are both elegant and rustic – after all they are an essential accessory for every Parisian woman.