French Tea Towels Make Ideal Gifts

Published: 15th February 2011
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Tea towels have a special tradition in France. As with so many other mundane items, the ingenious French have raised the humble kitchen towel to an art form.

Most commonly used simply to dry dishes and wet hands, the tea towel has countless uses in the kitchen and home: wiping up spills, lining a tea tray or picnic basket, acting as a quick potholder, making a decorative wrap for a wine bottle, and simply adding a colorful accent to a kitchen. With society’s new concern for less waste and more reuse, washable cotton towels make more sense for the environment than using roll after roll of paper towels. Quel Objet offers over 70 different tea towels, from three different French sources, each exemplifying the sophistication and quality for which Quel Objet is known.

Jacquard weaving allows the creation of intricate patterns in fabric. Tissage Moutet has used this technique to celebrate aspects of French life, history, geography, its flora, fauna, literature, and more in glorious color, and often with a wink and a smile. These make a truly unusual and useful gift. And Quel objet has created the perfect hostess gift in its boxed set: four tea towels rolled and displayed in an attractive metal box, with a clear plastic lid, and it’s fun to choose either by topic or color.

Recently Tissage Moutet has come out with "tapons"—little towels—in adorable patterns of storybook characters and French lessons for children. The small size and cute designs make them appealing to children as placemats, napkins, bibs, and to the mom for their myriad uses and practicality.

In addition to its woven jacquard tea towels, Quel Objet carries two lines of printed towels. The Ile de Ré is an island off the Atlantic coast of France, famous for its luminous light, its lush bounty of shellfish and garden produce. Georges G. has taken the paintings of one of the Ile de Ré’s well-known artists and had them reproduced on tea towels; they are so exquisitely printed that each looks individually painted by hand.

And a great hit with wine connoisseurs are tea towels printed with reproductions of actual French wine labels. These make the perfect gift for your favorite oenophile.

A tea towel might not be the first thing that comes to mind when trying to find a gift, but for anyone with a kitchen, or children, or who likes wine or travel, these make unusual and very welcome gifts.

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