Round Top’s New French Connection: Texas’ Antiques Mecca Partners With a Twin City in Provence
If Round Top ever had a double, it would be L’Isle sur la Sorgue — described as the Venice of France.
Among the most exciting developments of the Round Top Fall Antiques and Design Show was a transcontinental press conference that promises a Texan-French cultural-and-commerce alliance. The sister city twinning announcement was filmed at The Halles in Round Top and across the pond at its counterpart in the charming French Provence medieval hamlet of L’Isle sur la Sorgue. The European press event took place at the town’s largest venue (referred to as a village), where Antiques Art & You organizes a biannual antiques show that shares many affinities with Round Top’s antiques shows. Both towns are transformed into meccas where shoppers, some 100,000 strong each show, sleuth finds from booths and stalls sited in fields, farms, barns, market buildings, streets and squares, arrayed along each region’s beautiful countryside rich with history.
If Round Top ever had a twin, it would be L’Isle sur la Sorgue — described as the Venice of France — with its picturesque canals along the River Sorgue, activated by antique waterwheels and lined with shops, galleries and cafes, this scene springs to life twice a year when shoppers from across Europe (as well as American treasure seekers) flock to the Antiques Art & You Festival. And like Round Top, L’Isle sur la Sorgue can claim to be at the epicenter for its continent, a de rigueur stop in the antiques and upcycling pilgrimage route that includes London and Paris.
While this twinning relationship is in its infancy, it’s promising, note the principals, Jim Kastleman, chairman of Round Top Publishers and president of PaperCity magazine, and his mirror image in L’Isle sur la Sorgue, Jacques Chauvin, operator of Antiques Art & You and the Upcycling Festival. Chauvin says of the new accord: “Beyond the folkloric and symbolic aspects between our two countries, our two regions, and our two events, I think this twinning will generate a real business opportunity because the expectation, from buyers and sellers for antiques, with a strong history, is huge.” Pointing towards the possibility of an exchange between Texan and French dealers and shoppers in the near future, Chauvin adds, “There is a real interest for antiques and ancient objects coming from Texas and the USA. European buyers like very much the U.S. country style.”
On how this French connection came to be. Kastleman initiated the exchange, which developed organically after a meeting last June with the French Consul General in Houston and the senior team led by Bettina Gardelles, cultural cooperation attaché; Amandine Castillo, cultural coordinator; and Jane Buckner, press and communications officer. The next step happened rapidly. “PaperCity has enjoyed a long relationship with the Consulate office — we’ve collaborated on traveling French exhibits and other endeavors for nearly 25 years,” Kastleman says. “I simply reached out for a visit to get to know some of the new faces in the office. I started talking about Round Top, and how many French and other European antiques were represented. Bettina Gardelles immediately made a link to L’Isle sur la Sorgue. Within days, she had reached out to the fair operator and owner of one of its largest venues, Jacques Chauvin. He, in a very determined way, pursued Zoom meetings and proposed the twinning.”
The French team announced the collaboration at their twice-a-year antiques bonanza, synergistically aligned with the last weekend of the Round Top Fall Antiques Show. A prerecorded Zoom press conference was shown at The Halles, Round Top Publishers’ innovative events venue, between Chauvin and Kastleman, joined by Halles designer Lauren Wills and Ruth Gay, owner of Houston-based Chateau Domingue (a Halles exhibitor), who has spent extensive time in L’Isle sur la Sorgue and speaks fluent French. See the end of this story (below the video) for the the questions translated into English.
Meanwhile, stay tuned. Expect the first edition of this Texan-French antiques-and-design twinning to unveil during the Round Top Spring Antiques and Design Show (March 17 to April 3, 2022) and the L’Isle sur la Sorgue Antiques Art & You Festival (April 15 to 18, 2022).
1. Hello Texas! Hello Jim! Hello Round Top! How is the Fair going?
2. Is this edition a success?
3. How many visitors? How many exhibitors?
4. Here in France, it is amazing. It is the 2nd day of the Fair, and it is already a success. France & Texas, our events, this collaboration, what do you think about this initiative?
5. Beyond the folkloric and friendly aspects, do you think there is a business opportunity?
6. As you know, some antiques and designers are already preparing their trip to go to Round Top’s March 2022 edition. Are you ready to welcome them? On our side, we will be very happy to welcome them in Provence.
7. It is a pleasure to dedicate this evening’s party to folk and country music to celebrate this partnership.
Antique & Design Shows
Winter January 20 – 23
Spring March 17 – April 3