One of our very favorite things about France is the festivity of meals. So — isolated as we are from France right now — we went on the hunt for our favorite oh-SO-French table cloths. You know, the ones we can find here. The ones that are as much as like the ones we can find in an open-air French market as possible.
And, trust us, if modern American design magazines have led you to believe that French style is white on white, here’s a newsflash. It’s not.
The French LOVE color.
And they use it in all sorts of delightful and sometimes surprising combinations. Blue and yellow. Purple and green. Yellow and pink. Pink and bright green. Color is all around them in nature and they love to bring it indoors in the colder months of the year. You will find this almost always reflected in tableware.
There simply is something toasty warm and trés French about a tablecloth on the bare table. Not fancy, festive.
And unlike the style in most American homes, instead of using a solid tablecloth with different patterned napkins, you are much more likely to find the reverse in France.
A colorful patterned table cloth is more likely than a solid one for anything short of a totally formal dinner. And it’s paired either with a contrasting pattern on the napkins or solid napkins in bright colors that pull out part of the design colors.
Eating outdoors is a passion of the French. So a lot of their dining is gears towards eating in the open air.
Not only do cafes and restaurants have open air dining areas, but most homes do too. If the family has a large enough home, you often find a morning outdoor table and an evening outdoor table both in different locations and different lights. You particularly find this in the South of France where the climate is mild such a large portion of the year.
But outdoors does not mean a bare table. You seldom find a bare table top. Tables are almost always festively dressed. You find a myriad of colorful French table cloths all over the country.
French table linens of all sorts — particularly bright French table cloths — are our most delightfully fun “search” item as we stroll through open air markets in the mornings. Each region has its own traditional patterns and unique color combinations.
And trust me, it’s not white on white.
So here are our favorite oh-SO-French table cloths that you can find right here in your own home, thanks to Amazon…
The typical Provence-style French table cloths in the South of France.
#1 Bright Red and Yellow from Provence
This dining cloth is a 70-inch round especially designed for use outdoors. It’s a brightly colored Provençale table cloth called Tournesol available on Amazon that is water resistant. Primarily in red and the bright yellow shade so popular in Provence, it’s totally provacative and typical of a festive outdoor table in the South of France. And it’s under $35.
We would suggest at least two sets of napkins for it to give it two different feels. We would use this set of Red Lisa Provence cotton dinner napkins from Le Cluny with tiny yellow pattern on a bright red background and this set of green houndstooth cotton dinner napkins from Native Fab, both available on Amazon. As you grow your napkin collection, you’ll find they mix and match well with other tablecloths as well. And these two sets of napkins give a great deal of variety to one tablecloth.
But you’ll see they both match with other of our favorite clothes, too.
#2 Cerulean Blue from Provence
If your personal palate leans more towards blue, another traditional cloth evocative of Provence is this 68-inch round called Lisa Blue from Le Cluny. It’s coated cotton, but designed to be used both indoors and outdoors. That special shade of Cerulean Blue, so popular in Provence makes a striking background with the stylized floral in various shades of gold and yellow with outlines of navy and tiny hits of orange and red.
We has this tablecloth and love it. And our go-to napkins for it are this set of bright yellow, red, and blue striped napkins called Piazza from Traders and Company available on Amazon. Our switch-up set is this set of yellow and white striped cotton napkins from Saro Lifestyle, also from Amazon. Or to totally switch it up, we also use these Red Lisa Provence cotton napkins from Le Cluny. Know for lots of interchageable style, Le Cluny is wonderfully mix-and-match friendly.
#3 Brilliant Orange from Provence
Another bright choice very typical of Provence is this Orange with Lemons tablecloth from Provence Imports available on Amazon. This one comes only in a 70-inch round. It is polyester and machine washable — definitely designed for outdoor use.
These solid lemon yellow fringed cotton napkins from Cotton Clinic on Amazon would be perfect to pick up the yellow color in the lemons. They come in in a pack of 12 dinner-size napkins and are under $20. But probably a more typically French treatment would be these yellow plaid dinner napkins from Urban Villa Store also on Amazon. And you’ll find these a a plethora of colors, a couple of which would go well with this tablecloth as well — such as either these green and white napkins from Glamburg called Dot or these green houndstooth napkins from Native Fab, both available on Amazon.
The perfect centerpiece for this look would be a simple bowl of lemons or lemons mixed with oranges.
But of course, other areas of France have their own style and preference for table linens.
Other styles of French table cloths that predominate in Central and Northern France.
#4 Classic Nord in more muted Blues and Pastels
This lovely 63-inch round Maison d’Hermine Faïence on Amazon is under $40, but it comes in other shapes a sizes as well. A very traditional style more associated with northern France, it comes in a several different sizes for round, square, and rectangular tables.This kind of cloth is traditionally used year round in France, but the colors suggest spring and summer more than colder months to us.
This delightful design looks like blue and white tiles in the back ground with delicate strew flowers in almost transparent pink, yellow, and blue, with tender green leaves. It’s a perfect table cloth for white dishes, blue and white Delft patterns, or almost any brightly color set of pottery or china.
We find these blue houndstooth cotton napkins from Native Fab a delightful table mate for this cloth, available on Amazon. But you could also use the green pattern we have linked to for other cloths (above). And for a slightly more formal variation, these hand-stitched but machine washable pink cotton-linen napkins from Solino Home Store are an elegant pairing, also available on Amazon. And for a bit more of pizazz, we suggest a set of these
#5 Classic French Garden
In more fall colors is this delightful tablecloth from Villeroy & Boch in a pattern aptly called French Garden, is a classic French look. It comes in three sizes, a 68X96 rectangle, a 70-inch round, and a 68-inch square. If you want them, matching placements, napkins, and even dish towels are available. Any of these would make great Christmas gifts if you are planning ahead.
#6 The Iconic French Birds
I have to admit, my personal absolute favorite is this Birds on a Wire tablecloth from Maison d’Hermine Faīence available on Amazon. It reminds me of one my grandmother had on her table that I loved. A very traditional French design, it comes in a wide variety of sizes and shapes, all 100 percent cotton. Prices vary by size and shape.
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