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Suggestions for French Copper Cookware

BernieMSY Mar 8, 2011 05:38 PM

I am headed to Paris next week. Any suggestions for quality brands of French copper cookware? Where should I gomto obtain examples?

  1. kaleokahu Mar 8, 2011 07:18 PM

    Bernie: To go for the best, that means used. And *that* means the antique shops and street sales. By "best", I mean 3mm thick and above, handled in cast iron, not brass. If what you find in that thickness is flat and true (and the rivets sound), buy it--it can always (and forever) be retinned.

    The makers can be more elusive and obscure, because there are few that have stayed in business. Thickness rules, but if you can find any good Gaillard pieces, they are *very* good. Marks are less important to cooks than the overall quality. Anything marked "Made in France" (i.e., in English) was made in recent times. Sometimes no mark at all will signify top quality. Pans that have lids with the same marks are also something to look for, as are odd constructions (e.g., saucepans with *vertical* handles--very helpful in cramped kitchens)

    For new, there's E. Dehillerin, for whom Mauviel makes most of their copperware. When there, ask to see the "Extra Fort" to use to compare. If necessary, keep shaking your head and repeating "Extra Fort" until they bring out the good stuff. Unless it's a tiny pan, it should weigh north of 4 pounds. Anything bigger should be over 8 or 10, without lid.

    Another tip: Certain vessel shapes (e.g., fish poachers, roasting pans, braise boxes, turbotiers, pommes vapeur, pommes Anna, tarte Tatin) are MUCH cheaper to buy new in France than in USA. Pay the extra weight airline fee, knowing you have the best cookware that will last several (perhaps more) lifetimes.

    If you have email access w/photo capabilities, I would be happy to help you sort wheat from chaff. kaleokahu@gmail.com

    2 Replies
    1. re: kaleokahu
      aguy239 Mar 9, 2011 05:23 AM

      In case you are wondering, Dehillerin's store is easy to find, quite near Beaubourg. Here is the address: 18 Rue Coquillière, 75001. Tel: 01 42 36 53 13

      I seem to remember that they close for lunch (it's Paris after all!) so give a call to check their opening times. While there, pick up a couple of their knives, excellent value. And they have cute little pastry scrapers for a dollar that are great to keep in the kitchen drawer.

      Bon chance!

      1. re: aguy239
        Pedr0 Mar 20, 2011 09:22 AM

        E. Dehillerin is closed for lunch from 12:30 to 2pm.

    2. vikingwoman Mar 11, 2011 03:36 PM

      Hi Bernie,
      I have been a fan of Normandy copper, Havard is my favorite ; try to get a set of pots with matching flat lids with iron handles. Older made copper , tinned linned. Look for 3mm , iron handles and copper rivets.
      Best of Luck,

      9 Replies
      1. re: vikingwoman
        vikingwoman Mar 11, 2011 03:46 PM

        Here is the mark for Havard.

        1. re: vikingwoman
          kaleokahu Mar 16, 2011 07:29 PM

          Hi, Charla:

          Can you tell me if Havard is still making, and whether one can buy extra fort tinned pans? If so, where?

          Also, is there copper in France anywhere other than Normandy?


          1. re: kaleokahu
            vikingwoman Mar 17, 2011 02:01 AM

            Hi Kaleo,

            Yes but not the same quality/weight as 60+ years ago. The key is copper rivets/iron handles and hand wipped tin coating ,abit rough.

            For new today Pierre Vergnes is one I use. http://www.french-copper-cookware.com/

            I had several 2 and 3 litre saucier/tin lined made , took for ever but worth the wait and not cheap. Most everyone is now doing copper/clad.

            I have a friend in Normandy that goes to swap meets and buys nice items for me. Some items I retin myself.


            1. re: vikingwoman
              vikingwoman Mar 17, 2011 02:10 AM

              This is who I buy from. http://www.frenchcopperstudio.com/ The long handle lids are my favorite.


              1. re: vikingwoman
                kaleokahu Mar 17, 2011 12:17 PM


                Thanks. Too rich for my blood. I think I'll stick to scrounging. At least there's someone besides Hammersmith still making old-style pans.

                If you want to share your experiences re-tinning, I'd like to learn and try it myself. Common sense and a little plumbing experience tells me it can't be that difficult.


                1. re: kaleokahu
                  vikingwoman Mar 17, 2011 06:52 PM

                  Hi Kaleo,
                  I too very seldom buy new items. I get my pure tin from http://www.rotometals.com/ usually 3 lbs(3x1lb bars) at once for shipping cost.

                  The real trick is a good broad heat source with kevlar gloves. Use clay on the outside top edge to keep the outside of the pot clear of solder. Good and clean inside with acid then add solder and wipe. Watch the video clip on the the website I gave. Then you need a good slow speed buffer and compound as there is heat colouring of the outside of the pot. Learn and practice on a small cheap copper pot til you get the hang of it.

                  It very satisfying to retin yourself when you see a little copper showing through.

                  Drop me an email if you have further questions vikingwoman@shaw.ca


                  1. re: vikingwoman
                    kaleokahu Mar 17, 2011 07:22 PM

                    Thanks, Charla. Will do. Do you use pure tin or a silver and tin alloy?

                    I have a wide, triple ring LP crab boiler. You think that is enough? I also have a 30K Btu weed burner on a wand if it needs a boost.

                    What do you use for flux? Just fluxed clean muslin for the wipe?

                    I have some small Bazaar Francaise 666 gratins to practice on.

                    1. re: kaleokahu
                      vikingwoman Mar 20, 2011 12:55 AM

                      Pure tin is what I use. Not sure what is a crab boiler? It is good to use fire bricks to keep the heat in to the area you need. Not sure either about a weed burner ;; is that a Tigger tourch? If so it is too localized a heat and could warp your pan. Also you need a fairly hands free heat source.

                      Acid paste will do after a good bushing so it bright metal before the flux. Pure cotton for the wipe. Make sure to have forge tongs for small items. And do not forget the clay on the top outside edge.

            2. re: kaleokahu
              vikingwoman Apr 8, 2011 06:29 PM

              Hi Kaleo,
              Just got around to taking a few photos of my saucier pots. A 2 and 3 litre saucier. They are what I consider the proper shape and one showing the tin wipping streaks that know you have the real thing.

          2. b
            BernieMSY Mar 15, 2011 01:14 AM

            Thanks everyone.I'm here in Paris now and I am off To Deherillin in a few minutes.I'm hoping to stumble on an antique store or two along the way. Gaillard and Havard are in my sights. Wish me luck.

            3 Replies
            1. re: BernieMSY
              knet Mar 15, 2011 02:20 PM

              Also in Paris and planning to get to Dehillerin on Fri/Sat so please do post and let me know if you find it a worthwhile excursion.

              1. re: BernieMSY
                algct Mar 15, 2011 05:31 PM

                Have had Deherillin 2.5mm equipment for over 15 years - great!

                1. re: algct
                  vikingwoman Mar 17, 2011 02:21 AM

                  I agree great! I have a number of Dehillerin 2.5mm oval pans/pots and love them.


              2. k
                knet Mar 16, 2011 02:36 PM

                Haven't yet been to Dehillerin ( found the subway route and plan a visit on Friday) but I did pick up a Mauviel clad saute pan today that I think I am in love with. I wanted to take it to dinner! I haven't the time to go exploring for other options as this is a work trip but I;ll be at Dehillerin this week adding a French cousin or two to my Mauviel and throwing all thoughts of how to transport back home to the wind!

                2 Replies
                1. re: knet
                  cutipie721 Mar 16, 2011 02:45 PM


                  Have fun!! I wish I can be there one day.

                  1. re: cutipie721
                    knet Mar 16, 2011 02:50 PM

                    I know how lucky I am to have a business trip to Paris! Thanks for the idea, might be worthwhile shipping home if I end up buying more stuff here!

                2. vikingwoman Mar 16, 2011 04:15 PM

                  Hi Bernie,
                  I would make a trip to Julia Child apartment in Paris that they had in 1948 and get someone to take a picture of you standing by the front door with the number at 81... http://www.travelpod.com/travel-photo... then some pictures of the area near there also do the same at Dehillerin's.

                  It will be pictures you will love in the future.


                  4 Replies
                  1. re: vikingwoman
                    BernieMSY Mar 18, 2011 07:17 AM

                    Thanks everyone.
                    I picked up a 45cm, 22 1/2 qt covered, two handled saute pan that I am thrilled with!

                    I stuffed it into my suitcase at the airport, after having left plenty of extra room before flying to Paris. No extra weight charges, either!

                    The price was less than 50% of what I would have paid in the USA!! Amazing deal!

                    My grandchildren will one day use this pan.

                    Here is a photo of it next to a 7 1/2 qt Le Creuset Dutch Oven

                    1. re: BernieMSY
                      kaleokahu Mar 18, 2011 09:45 AM

                      Hi, BernieMSY:

                      It's beautiful--and enormous at almost 18 inches in diameter. How much does it weigh? Tinned or bimetal? Two loop handles, right?

                      Happy cooking.


                      1. re: kaleokahu
                        BernieMSY Mar 18, 2011 02:26 PM

                        tinned, two brass handles and it weighs a lot!

                      2. re: BernieMSY
                        vikingwoman Mar 20, 2011 01:09 AM

                        Great Pot ! I love it. Keep good padding so you don't get any dents. I can already smell a nice pot roast with veggies,potatoes,onions and garlic in it !

                        Don't forget to get a large olive wood spoon and edge flipper to fit. Bamboo will do too.


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