The Cottage Journal - Christmas 2019

 

The Cottage Journal
Garden Pleasures
Text by: Tovah Martin
Photography by: Kindra Clineff

 

Les Fleurs

A New England flower shop speaks to your soul with an Old-World accent

“This quaint flower shop may call New England home, but it’s got a French flair that can’t be missed.”

 

It’s December. The wind is gusting menacingly, and flurries are forecast before nightfall. But when you slip through doors flocked in magnolia garlands into a little shop in Andover, Massachusetts, you’re no longer in the frigid coastal New England town. For a few magical minutes, it’s the holidays and you are strolling the streets of Paris.

Everywhere you turn, Les Fleurs is decked in vintage woven baskets and wine crates with the names of legendary vineyards faded by time. The patina on old buckets is complemented by armloads of dried magnolia twigs and the soft lacework of fern fronds as live plants mingle with the harvest of last year’s glory. Here and there, you find vintage ornaments owner Sandra Sigman gathered in markets when she last visited Paris, but every bit of bling was long ago muted by the fingers of time. The more deeply you explore the treasure laden nooks of the shop, the more details you discover. You could spend a lifetime in this shop — Sandra certainly does. It’s her little bit of Paris in New England.

Walk into Les fleurs and you might find Sandra Sigman in her shop, bustling around, pulling stems from different buckets, creating an arrangement with meaning. "Whether it comes from nature or a French craftsman, every item in this shop has a story," she says as she tucks the finishing touch into a groom's boutonniere.
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A part of Sandra is always in Paris. She lived there for two years in the 1980s as a young figure skater with a Holiday on Ice troupe. By night, she skated professionally, which left daytime for exploring the city. Because her mother was florist, she frequented little florist shops, eavesdropping over shoulders, watching the shop girls work their bouquets, describing their techniques to her mother by phone and letter. When she grew homesick and returned to her little Boston, Massachusetts suburb, Sandra decided to follow the family dream and open a flower shop in a nearby town. “They need a French florist,” she thought when she found the storefront on the corner of a busy street in Andover. Tragically, her mother lost a battle with breast cancer a month after the shop opened. To this day, Sandra dedicates every bouquet she builds to her mother’s memory.
Andover fell in love with LesFleurs. Especially when the holidays are approaching, the bustling town finds a few spare minutes to be transported to another land and a time long

ago. Sandra prepares for the holidays many months ahead, making trip after trip to France and sending her finds home. As the holidays approach, she closes the shop for a weekend to decorate. “I empty the shop out entirely to build a new scene for the holidays. On the first day, I work alone with a couple of strong men to lift and place the background of trees and branches, stacking containers and baskets that will be filled with goodies.” Each section of the store has a theme that might start with snippets of vintage ribbon or a birch branch, building on the inspiration. The next day, the staff returns, and “like little elves,” they work furiously to fill in vignettes. Muted ornaments overflow from urns and bulbs spill from opaque apothecary jars, waiting for customers to scoop them up and take them home. Twigs, branches, and moss mingle with antique homespun linens. And the famous flower bar waits with huge bundles of roses in burnished shades and tempting bunches of rare blossoms begging to be brought together into an arrangement.

 
TEXT BY TOVAH MARTIN
PHOTOGRAPHY BY KINDRA CLINEFF
 
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Save the date for our annual
HOLIDAY OPEN HOUSE


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