The French passion for gastronomy and propensity for spending hours (hours!) around the table has inspired dining culture around the world. So naturally, France is home to some of the oldest and most beloved cookware and tableware companies, most of whom still manufacture all their products in the country. The six companies on this list most certainly do, and it’s clear from holding any of their products in your hand that it is a result of knowledge and skills that have been passed down through generations.
Here is a list of our top six French brands. You can find our curation of their items for the kitchen and table in our four London stores and right here on our website.
Established in 1830, Mauviel is one of the most recognisable names in cookware, and their pans have been lauded by professional chefs and home cooks alike. Based in a Normandy locale that translates to ‘city of pans’, Mauviel makes traditional copper pieces like hammered jam pans and tin-lined roasters, as well as more user-friendly copper—for example, copper lined with stainless steel that never needs to be re-tinned (M’150S range), or induction-compatible copper (M’6S). The company applies the same rigorous quality standards to stainless steel (M’Cook) and non-stick (M’Stone) pieces too.
If you have to choose just one piece? An impossible question, since Mauviel makes so many excellent pots and pans. But one great example is the Mauviel M’Cook Saucepan with Lid. Co-founder Justin once accidentally burned noodles to the bottom of this pot, and after a quick soak, the pan cleaned up so easily it was good as new. This is thanks to the high-quality brushed stainless steel interior.
Inspired by the simplicity in nature, Jars’ history spans more than 150 years. Seventeen is the number of times their beautiful stoneware passes through the hands of the ceramicists. That careful attention to those many processes produces tableware that combines imagination and elegance. Best of all? They are extremely hard wearing, able to resist cracks, fading, and the stress of dishwashers and microwaves. This is a result of an energy-saving manufacturing process that fires only once at 1285°C rather than the standard three times. Jars factories also recycle all the water and heat used in production, keeping waste and pollution to an absolute minimum.
If you have to choose just one piece? This is a bit of a cheeky answer, but the Jars Maguelone 16 Piece Dinner Set, mixed and matched in different colours. The organic shapes and muted palette make every meal feel special.
The reason ‘Staub’ sounds more German than French is because this company hails from the Alsace region that borders Germany and Switzerland, where all their cast iron products are still manufactured. Staub cast iron pots and pans are finished with three layers of textured black enamel that’s sprayed onto the cast iron for lifetime-lasting durability. Unlike traditional cast iron, they do not need to be seasoned and can be washed normally.
If you have to choose just one piece? The Staub Round Cocotte. Our most popular size is the 26cm, which makes enough food for up to six people. These cocottes have all the benefits of Staub’s thick cast iron, which translates to better browning, faster reducing and hotter frying, as well as their patented lid. The lid has bumps under the surface that create a self-basting mechanism that retains flavour and moisture exceptionally well, making it the top choice for making wintry stews and anytime curries, as well as bakery-style bread.
De Buyer has almost two centuries worth of experience in making a wide variety of tools for cooking and baking. In 2009 the French Ministry for the Economy, Finance and Industry presented de Buyer with the Entreprise du Patrimoine Vivant (Living Heritage Company) Award, which recognises the company’s artisanal traditions and industrial excellence. In other words, the government of France agrees with our overwhelmingly favourable product testing results.
If you have to choose just one piece? De Buyer’s Mineral B Carbon Steel Frying Pan is easier to manoeuvre than a cast iron pan, but has the same level of heat retention. This results in a perfect ‘Maillard reaction’, which is the fancy way of saying ‘a perfect sear’.
Made from snow white porcelain, there’s simply no going wrong with Pillivuyt’s classic tableware. These pieces keep their lustre even after frequent dishwasher use. We know this first hand because our team uses Pillivuyt dishes in our office every day! They are also extremely resistant to thermal shock, which is what happens when a plate cracks after going from a very cold place (like the freezer) to a very hot place (like the oven) too soon. And yes, you can use Pillivuyt porcelain in both those places.
If you have to choose just one piece? The Pillivuyt Mehun Milk Jug can be used to serve any cold or warm drink, and during Christmas or Sunday roasts, it makes a great gravy boat too, since you can keep it warm in the oven before serving.
Headquartered in Savoie, France, Opinel is most famous for their folding knives, which Borough Market Store Manager (and resident Frenchie) Anne says people simply refer to as ‘an Opinel’. Opinel has taken this concept in clever directions, from a folding knife specially designed for mushroom foraging to one that’s picnic perfect (see below).
If you have to choose just one piece? The Opinel Corkscrew & Pocket Knife cuts fruit, cheese and other foods easily, and includes an embedded corkscrew for opening wine. Two essential picnic tools in one!