A Visit to the Mauviel Copper Cookware Factory

I’ll never pass up a chance to go to a factory, whether it be to see how American stand mixers are made, or French enameled cookware. I’d never seen copper cookware being made, though, and jumped at the opportunity to hop on an early morning train to Villedieu-les poêles to visit the Mauviel copper cookware factory. (The only thing I didn’t jump at was the bleary 7:30am departure time, from the Gare du Montparnasse.)

A few hours later, after a restorative café express, once inside the factory, everywhere I looked, there was copper cookware in different stages of production, stacked around the rooms. “Factory” conjures up images of giant buildings with thousands of people toiling away. But the human-sized building where Mauviel cookware is made is surprisingly small-scale; fifty four workers working various shifts, bend, press, fire-up, hammer, rivet, and polish their gleaming copper pots and pans, before sending them out into the world.

Before I lived in France, I remember going into E. Dehillerin in Paris…maybe thirty or so years back? I don’t recall the year, but I do remember I flew PEOPLExpress and the flights were $99 each way. With the money I saved on the flight, using my kitchen line-cook wages, I splurged on a few pieces of Mauviel copper cookware.

The clerks wrapped and carefully boxed them up; I planned to carry them back to my hotel on the métro, then take them to the airport with me when my flight left a few days later. I got probably seven feet out the door of the store and realized I couldn’t haul them any farther. So I got in a cab, and took the case of cookware to the airport, checked it into a consigne (luggage storage area) there, then picked it up before my flight to bring home. (Back when luggage allowance was a lot more liberal.)

On the flight home, we had a very scary experience with excessive turbulence. People were screaming and falling out of their seats, and a few got sick in the aisles. Many thought we were going to crash, but all I was worried about was about my gleaming copper cookware, down in the hold. Someone on the plane later wrote an article about the experience, although I can’t find it anywhere online, but it was about how he “found God” during the turbulence. Whatever higher power that was looking out for us, both I – and my copper cookware – survived the flight.

I’d bought two copper roasting pans, a few oval gratins dishes, and a tarte Tatin pan. A fortunate friend got one of the copper roasting pans as a wedding present, and someone I worked with scored one of the copper gratin dishes, which I hope both of them still have. My pieces are packed away somewhere because I thought it kind of odd to transport French copper cookware back to France. (And luggage fees don’t make it as economical as it was back then.)

I finally went back to where it all began, in Normandy, where pots and pans were in all stages of production, starting from sheets of raw copper, hammered, shaped, and bent into things like jam pots (above), and potato steamers, (below).

Mauviel has been making copper cookware since 1830. Valérie Gilbert is the seventh generation of her family to run the company. I’d met her at a luncheon in Paris a few weeks ago and she kindly let me spend a good part of the day roaming around the factory with her, and on my own.

Not only do they make copper cookware, but they recondition and repair it. A giant, heavy braisier had been sent to them to be refinished, and I have to say, that pot was incredibly heavy. I don’t know how the man (who had a few years on me) hefted it and held it against the polishing wheel for as long as it took to shine ‘er up. But I will never complain about my job again.

Like a number of businesses in France, Mauviel isn’t just a company. At the risk of sounding like a logo, it’s a tradition. France has a long history making copper cookware. The town, Villedieu-les-Poêles translates to “God’s City of the Pans.” The residents are often referred to as les sourdins, or “the deaf,” because so many had lost their hearing over the years, working in the loud factories where copper was hammered and pounded. The town also has a fonderie that makes bells, and Cornille Havard made the cloches for Notre Dame church in Paris.

Like everyone at the factory, Valérie is involved of all aspects of the business and inspects various pieces that come off the assembly line, and even pieces that come in for repair or reconditioning. Having inherited the family business, it’s clear that this is her life and she takes a personal interest everything that goes in and out of the factory.

You have no idea what goes into making something until you see it made. So much manufacturing has left for less-expensive places, that you appreciate it even more when you see people working at their craft so diligently, especially in a country that’s often accused of having a slack work ethic. Everyone in the factory that I met was friendly, and worked diligently at their tasks. While I was on my own, everyone was incredibly nice and open about what they were doing. Theses people are the best at what they do, and were happy to explain whatever they were doing, or show me the process the pieces of cookware go through.

Above is the beginning of a turbotière, one of those words (and pieces of cookware) that could only exist in French. It’s a copper pot for poaching turbot. It starts from a sheet of raw copper, which is folded into a rough suggestion of the final shape.

The sides are soldered together, then the rim is hand-hammered closed.

Once everything is bent and smoothed into shape, then it’s sent to be polished and wrapped for shipping.

Every piece is inspected as it comes off the line. And when I say “line,” I’m not talking about a mile-long conveyer belt. Here, it was a dozen or so at a time, with each piece being held under a riveting machine, to have the handles attached, as it came off the belt.

Mauviel is one of the last companies in France to make copper pastry pots and pans, including tarte Tatin molds (which is the one piece I wish I had brought back to France with me…), sugar pots, and sabayon pans with rounded bottoms and handles to heat and whip the frothy sauce up. But if anyone wants a specialty piece, they are happy to produce them. Many chefs request special platters and serving pieces, and when I asked Valérie, “How few will you make?” She said, “We’ll even do just one!” I was thinking how fun it’d be to design a copper tarte Tatin pan that was my own-branded piece of cookware. Then I came back to reality.

But what really impressed me was seeing these enormous pieces of copper cookware, that came from the Élysée Presidential palace in Paris, that had been sent in for réétamage (retinning). They were spectacular and just trying to pick one of them up was a chore. I could barely lift what we used to casually called a ‘rondo’ when I worked in restaurants, which is the name of piece above, which I learned is actually rondeau, in French. C’est comme ça.

In addition to the bounty from the Élysée palace, two stock pots had just arrived that were stamped with the date they were made – 1866 – which had been sent in for rehabilitation, too.

The bronze handles alone were gorgeous, but the girth of the pots was equally impressive. Another bit of French that was added to my vocabulary was martelage – the act of hammering.

The hammered exterior on copper pots isn’t just for decoration but done to larger pieces of copper cookware because it makes them tougher. This is what made most of people way-back-when lose their hearing, but now there are warning signs in place.

What got me most excited, though, was watching the new copper pots being tinned.

The pots are painted with blanc d’espagne, a special coating to protect the outsides, which tin won’t stick to. Then a handful of irregular metal pellets are tossed inside, before the pot is ready to “cook” over an open fire.

Tinning (étamage) of the pots is quite a bit of work. And in addition to seeing the most muscular forearms I’d ever seen in my life, it was amazing to watch the tin melt and make a shiny coating inside the pots:

Final tinning of copper pot- amazing craftsmanship! @mauviel.1830

A post shared by David Lebovitz (@davidlebovitz) on

Seeing that was one of the best things in my life. I could have spent a few days watching him melt the metal and coat the pieces of cookware.

Like turbotière and martelage (don’t worry, there won’t be a test at the end of this post) another word I was pretty sure I heard was canelisé, the action of putting the ruffles in canelé molds. The sweet little cakes from Bordeaux were invented to use up the leftover egg yolks, after the whites had been used to clarify wine. So someone came up with the crusty little treats to make use of those jaunes d’œufs. Here’s how they’re initially molded:

Making cannelé molds

A post shared by David Lebovitz (@davidlebovitz) on

I didn’t get to see the ruffled part being made because they were testing and inspecting the molds, and the dies used to make the molds, but when I circled back to someone at the factory about the word canelisé a little while later, no one had any idea what I was talking about. (Good thing there’s no test at the end of this post! But I can also blame it on my 5:30am wake-up call…)

In addition to copper cookware, Mauviel also made pro-quality stainless-steel cookware.

As a gift, they gave me this lovely little saucepan that was coming off the line, and stamped my initials in it.

By late afternoon, it was time to say goodbye and head to Mont Saint-Michel for dinner. I was exhausted but had a hard time sleeping that night, thinking about all that beautiful copper cookware coming off the line. And wondering how I could get my tarte Tatin pan (and oval gratin dish) back over here.

Mauviel 1830
47, route de Caen
France

  • The factory outlet store is open 8 to noon, 2pm to 6pm, Monday through Friday. You may wish to call before visiting to confirm opening hours: 02 33 61 00 31.
  • At present, Mauviel doesn’t offer factory tours but you can visit the factory outlet store, which is adjacent to the factory
  • For inquiries about retinning copper cookware, they advised that you can email the factory <mauviel AT Mauviel.com> (replacing the AT with ‘@’) or call the number above. (I’ve given some addresses that retin copper cookware in the U.S., in the links below.)

Related Links

Mauviel USA

Mauviel Factory Outlet Store (in Villedieu-les-poêles)

Cookware Shops in Paris

Atelier du Cuivre (Shop in Paris that sells and refinishes copper cookware)

Mauviel Copper Cookware is available at Williams-Sonoma, Sur La Table and Amazon.

Two places in the U.S. that do retinning of copper pots are East Coast Tinning and Rocky Mountain Retinning. (I’ve not used either business and have no connection to them.)

Bachelier Antiquités (Sells vintage copper cookware, at the Clingnancourt Flea Market in Paris)

Paris Flea Markets and Thrift Stores

Antiquing Outside of Paris

 

 


Never miss a post!

109 comments

  • March 28, 2017 1:50pm

    You should buy all new Mauviel and give the ones in the U.S. to friends and family there. (Good excuse to get some and to put your old ones to good use, no?)
    This is a fantastic tour. The biggest surprise was that martelage is for strength and not just for aesthetics.
    There are copper pots at vide greniers all the time; they last forever. Another made-in-France cookware line, Cristel, has the motto: Buy once for life.

  • Mickey
    March 28, 2017 1:58pm

    So beautiful, all this copperware. I use a copper bowl for whipping egg whites! Forgive me my ignorance, but why are most pots and pans tinned on the inside? (Why not keep it as it is: copper?) Thanks David!

    • Russell Herman
      March 28, 2017 6:46pm

      Copper is highly poisonous with most foods!

      • Ed Escobar
        March 29, 2017 3:52am

        Actually, saying copper is mildly toxic would be more accurate, but mild toxicity over time builds up and can cause serious damage.

  • Cynthia Rieth
    March 28, 2017 1:59pm

    One of my favorite memories of my first visit to Chenonceau(?) in the ’70’s was the kitchen with all it’s gorgeous gleaming copper cookwear!

    • Kay
      March 28, 2017 7:55pm

      That kitchen! I was in awe.

  • March 28, 2017 2:01pm
    David Lebovitz

    ToF: I’ve come across copper cookware at vide greniers (flea markets) in France, too, but invariably the lining is worn out. I asked Valérie how much it costs to retin a pot and she said to plan on spending about one-third of the original value of the pot. I have a few vintage pieces and next time I go, I’m bringing mine in for retinning. (Because they’re very heavy and the postage would be insane.)

    Mickey: I believe it’s because copper is reactive when used with certain ingredients, so that’s probably why they are tinned.

    • jilly
      March 28, 2017 5:18pm

      And tin is food safe? It clearly must be but it seems like such a soft metal. But as long as it’s not aluminum. I’ve stopped eating jams and jelly’s unless they’re homemade because the taste of aluminum from the commercial pans they’re cooked in is just overwhelming. And I hate to think what it does to people’s bodies…but tin must be better?

      • EMR
        March 29, 2017 1:40am

        I was thinking the same thing *jilly*! I have always believed that tin IS aluminum. My Mother had aluminum pans growing up but got rid of them when my brother, who is a Dr. told her they weren’t safe to cook in, especially acidy foods, such as tomato sauces (she is Italian).

      • March 29, 2017 4:00pm

        Tin is very safe to use, and you are right, it is a very soft metal. Tin starts to blister at approximately 460F, if it blisters it needs to be retinned.

    • sheila mooney
      March 29, 2017 6:58pm

      Hello! The man at Dehillerin who retinned my pots told me that if one did not let the food *cool* in unlined copper (or pots with worn linings), there was no problem. He may be right, but I feel safer with the tin. I have always wondered: is it better to get copper lined with stainless steel (which reduces conductivity, no?) or with tin, even tho’ they need retinning every 5/6 years or so, depending on use…? Great article, thank you very much!

    • Mickey
      March 31, 2017 6:39am

      Merci! That makes sense. I do know not to mix cream with the whipped egg whites in the copper pot: it will turn green(ish) apparently!

  • erin
    March 28, 2017 3:48pm

    What a wonderful post! I have long-admired Mauviel pots and pans. Although I do own a few stainless pieces, it’s their copperware which is truly a work of art. Thank you for the virtual tour!

  • Gloria
    March 28, 2017 4:05pm

    Wonderful wonderful post! Thank you!

  • Jacklyn
    March 28, 2017 4:17pm

    So special…true artisans!

  • Priti Kohli
    March 28, 2017 4:29pm

    David, that was surely a most memorable experience! After reading your post I went and fondly looked at the few treasured Mauviel pots that I have with an even warmer appreciation of their history! Thank you for sharing your visit!

  • March 28, 2017 4:36pm

    Fabulous photos! I have deep pan envy.

  • Gayle
    March 28, 2017 5:22pm

    As I was reading about the process, I found I kept saying, “that is SO cool” over and over.

    Great post…SO cool! :)

  • Josie
    March 28, 2017 5:24pm

    Such a magnificent story/visit….the workmanship…one cannot imagine such labor by mortal man, in this day an age..that is tremendous work….so European…so missed here….looked like a Russell Crowe look alike, too :):)..Just beautiful. Truly a work of art. Thank you…

  • March 28, 2017 5:26pm

    Oh, what I wouldn’t give to have been there with you, David. I love Mauviel cookware. My favorite ones are my 20 canele molds, the first Mauviel product I ever purchased.

  • Ruth
    March 28, 2017 5:30pm

    I just used East Coast Tinning for retinning several copper pots and they did a wonderful job and were easy to work with.

    • Bobbie
      March 29, 2017 2:56pm

      I can second the recommendation for East Coast Tinning. They did a great job on a piece for me last year. They have also started to offer vintage copper cookware on their website for sale.

    • March 31, 2017 7:39pm

      DL, Thank you for the mention! …and a great piece on Mauviel.

      …to Ruth and Bobbie, thanks for the kudos!

      Jim
      East Coast Tinning
      401-965-4569

  • Susie
    March 28, 2017 5:33pm

    Love your post. I was drooling all the way through! Makes me want to get online and order a copper something!
    Love your sense of humor and you always have me laughing when sharing your experiences (with you not at you )

  • rockyrd
    March 28, 2017 5:36pm

    thank you. wonderful tour. I have many copper pieces and some old ones that I do not use as they need retinning. I have also purchased some with nickel and stainless on the inside but I don’t think they cook like the tin lined ones. loved your videos too. now I know why those little canele molds are so pricey. lots of work.

  • Vicki Perkins
    March 28, 2017 5:40pm

    Oh David,
    I have followed you for a number of years and this is one of my very favorite posts! I have pieces that I purchased at Dehillerin in Paris and Sur la Table here at home. Thanks for documenting this wonderful company.

  • jacqui
    March 28, 2017 5:43pm

    The potato steamer is an especially wonderful piece..how lovely to just display it.

  • Toupie
    March 28, 2017 5:48pm

    The best post yet! Eons ago, I bought and brought home from Dehillerin a med. sized turbotière. Never found a turbot to put in it, but it was great for a huge batch of Diana Kennedy’s Barbacoa de Pollo, but baked in my oven.

    Merci! Toupie

  • CG
    March 28, 2017 5:48pm

    Great post and photos! Does the factory outlet carry first quality items or are they “seconds” with flaws, etc. Thanks!

  • March 28, 2017 5:52pm

    Beautiful works of art!! The sheen.

  • John L
    March 28, 2017 5:52pm

    Hi David,
    I think I’m the person that scored the gratin dish! Great article and photos.

    • March 28, 2017 5:59pm
      David Lebovitz

      Ha! Is it too late to get it back?

      • John
        March 29, 2017 6:20pm

        I’ll trade you the gratin dish for a tour of Paris!

  • Bee
    March 28, 2017 5:54pm

    I enjoyed this report of your visit to Villedieu-les-Poêles, which brought back happy memories of two visits I made there over the years. I still remember the mother and son team who worked in the shop in town and told me (an American), with great gravity, not to put my copper pots in the dishwasher! The fonderie you mentioned is also an interesting place to visit. I was there to see a sculpture they were making in bronze for a WWII monument which honored the 101st Airborne for a battle at a nearby bridge in which my uncle participated in June 1944. He survived and was honored with the Légion d’honneur. But I especially enjoyed watching the artisans make a huge bronze church bell. They still use the same technique used in medieval times (which involves a large form made from straw and manure). I bought a small hanging bell there to use as a doorbell on the outside of my house here in the middle of nowhere in Northern Vermont, where we still have a foot of snow on the ground! I miss France and all the time honored crafts which are still in production.

    • March 28, 2017 6:01pm
      David Lebovitz

      I really wanted to go where they make the bells, but I spent so much time at the factory (I didn’t want to leave!) – however had to get elsewhere that night. I really liked the town of Villedieu-les-Poêles and will probably go back and spend a few days there, and visit other places.

      • Patricia Sourdin
        March 28, 2017 10:31pm

        This is great and very timely! We are going in June – my family are Sourdins that emigrated to Australia a long time ago. Are the factory shop prices good? Been following you for ages and spend several months of the year in Paris so really appreciate your blog about things around Paris.

  • Lamadoodle
    March 28, 2017 5:59pm

    What a wonderful post!

    I was privileged to visit & have a factory tour many years ago when I lived and worked in the region.

  • Julie Iantorno
    March 28, 2017 6:06pm

    30 years ago I used to assist in cooking classes in The Perfect Pan in San Diego. I would get paid with gift certificates to use in the store. I saved them up and purchased a number of pieces of gorgeous French copper pots. Last year we moved and I now have the pots in a cabinet in my office. I took a photo of the pots and sent it to all my children telling them that if I should suddenly die, under no circumstances should they throw out the pots. No instructions on the art or jewelry, just the hand made French copper pots.

  • Annette
    March 28, 2017 6:09pm

    Thanks so much for this post — it’s so cool that you were invited into the factory! Midway thru reading, I ran to check the brand of my copper saucepan purchased at E. Dehillerin, and am thrilled to see it’s Mauviel! But I’ve been afraid to use it, because the salesman told me to take great care to not get the pan too hot or the tin lining would melt off! I WANT to use it (tho it looks great hanging in my kitchen)…so just how careful do I need to be??

    • Kay
      March 28, 2017 7:52pm

      Never put it on the fire without something in it, use low to moderate heat, and make sure the pot stays below 400 degrees.

      • Annette
        March 28, 2017 10:20pm

        Merci beaucoup, Kay!

      • Danièle R
        April 2, 2017 1:24am

        Thank you so much for the information. Wil try it this weekend!! Danièle

  • March 28, 2017 6:16pm

    I would love to stop at the factory on my way to Mont Saint-Michel in May, but I just realized I have an induction cooktop. The pots won’t work, will they? I guess I could always buy something for the oven. C’est dommage.

  • Steve L.
    March 28, 2017 6:34pm

    Super post! Because I was in the right place (Dehillerin) at the right time (exceptionally strong dollar) I have a lot of Mauviel copper cookware (though almost all stainless lined with cast iron handles). Superior product, makes a real difference in the kitchen (although I’ve never quite figured out how I’m supposed to use the pommes Anna pan). Enjoyed this opportunity to see inside the works.

  • Janet in NC
    March 28, 2017 6:37pm

    One of my favorite posts ever. What an incredible experience, tinning – who knew! As a granddaughter of an Irish-American silversmith, I share your interest and excitement in the process and mastery. Much thanks for sharing!

  • Karin Lecuyer
    March 28, 2017 6:47pm

    I found two used copperbowels with handles ,what is the best way to make them shine again ?

    • Kay
      March 28, 2017 7:58pm

      Maas polish and elbow grease. You can also use Bar Keepers Friend, and some people swear by lemon juice and salt.

    • March 29, 2017 4:04pm

      You can find special copper cleaner on our website called CopperBrill. Ketchup works too! :)

  • Steve L.
    March 28, 2017 6:50pm

    Forgot something: that piece from 1866 appears to be stamped “L.N.” and St. Cloud. Perhaps it came from the kitchens of the Chateau de Saint Cloud while Napoleon III (aka Louis-Napoleon) was in residence there. The date is right.

  • Susie
    March 28, 2017 6:52pm

    David…I loved this post!! And it triggered the most wonderful memory that happened to me during that awful time in our history, 9/11. I was in France at the time and planned to shop for copper pots at Dehillerin. I was all geared up for an intimidating experience. The gentleman who greeted me as I entered the store could not have been more kind. In the end, he took me down into the basement,….brick walls lined with sagging hand hewn wooden shelves piled high with copper pots and pans. Rows upon rows of gleaming copper…he left me down there to browse. And then returned to carry upstairs a tarte tatin pan, a double boiler for melting chocolate, a sauté pan, and a gratin pan. He carefully wrapped it all and as I stood at the counter, I read, in English, a message of sympathy “to our dear American friends” written on lined yellow paper and taped to the counter top. He graciously escorted me out the door…and, yes, I had to call a cab to get me back to the hotel with the load of pots. I’ll never forget his expressions of sorrow and empathy for what had happened to America…still using the pots sixteen years hence. Cannot remember how I got them home on the plane.

  • Gina Bisaillon
    March 28, 2017 6:54pm

    I love copper ware! I own one of those French jam basins – purchased in 1972 when I opened my first restaurant. At the time, I could afford to outfit the kitchen not only with all the copper pots I wanted, but also with a custom-made copper exhaust hood! Later, when I lived in Mexico, I visited Santa Clara del Cobre, where the copper shops are. I still have a giant turkey roasting pan I bought there.

  • Bev
    March 28, 2017 7:02pm

    Were any of those photos of Tarte Tatin pans? I would have loved to see one (and maybe I did, but just didn’t recognize it).

  • Eileen Oshiro
    March 28, 2017 7:06pm

    David, this is my favorite post/visit you’ve ever done! I’m lucky enough to have a few Mauviel pieces from Sur La Table, and picked up the cannele molds from Dehillerin a few years ago. If I ever get back to France, I need to go to the Mauviel factory. Thank you!!

  • Gisella
    March 28, 2017 7:16pm

    Those shiny kitchenware all lined up look pretty. And this post is very educational. I didn’t know about that “martelage” process to strengthen the metal. Nice one!

  • manu burghart
    March 28, 2017 7:17pm

    thank you dear david for this wonderful tour. i am a regular reader -never miss one of your posts and i am proud owner of mauviel copper as well as mauviel stone series. the copper casseroles i use the most are the small sauciers 14 cm diameter.i use them all the time during a day and i would not care how much they cost – specially after reading your post how they are made and reading all the wonderful memories from passionate cooks.merci

  • Marilyn
    March 28, 2017 7:31pm

    Wonderful post, so interesting. I always look forward to reading your blog.

  • Garden Goddess
    March 28, 2017 7:37pm

    Awesome post! I would love to read more like this with all of your fabulous photos. I’ve been lusting after a new set of copper cookware for quite a while now.

    What about coming back to the US on a visit and taking a trip to the Lodge cast iron factory and the Nordic Ware bundt pan factory? Well, it was just a thought…

  • Kay
    March 28, 2017 7:48pm

    Fascinating.

    I’ve used East Coast Tinning. They did a good job. They also sell antique copper pots and pans and make their own new ones. All very pricey.

    Occasionally I find copper cookware at Marshall’s, including a Mauviel round bowl for beating egg whites, a Ruffioni Dutch oven with beautiful brass handles and lid grip, and a variety of Alsatian made pans, hand hammered and very thick. Very reasonable, compared to their retail prices.

  • Tiho
    March 28, 2017 7:50pm

    Now you can say, that you’ve been in Heaven, David! ;-)

  • Christina Imm
    March 28, 2017 7:53pm

    Wonderful post! I began my copper pot collection in Villdieu-les-P, continued it at Dehillerin, and have little by little replaced the tinned pots and pans with Cuprinox stainless lined, heavy duty pans. Is Cuprinox made at the same factory as Mauveil?
    The jam pan I recently bought at Dehillerin has been used and used -love it. Brought it back in my suit case and through the kindness of a lovely French attendant (after I explained what I was going to do with it) let it pass despite being very overweight!

  • Susan
    March 28, 2017 8:24pm

    Beautiful. Loved every picture. And a pot with your initials, the best! I love my little mauviel omelet pan from dehillerin!

  • Lynn
    March 28, 2017 9:38pm

    This is among your most envy-inspiring posts ever. I WANT one of those tarte Tatin pans. I love French artisans – they have all the confidence their expertise gives them. Such a lovely read – and the photos are touching, somehow. It’s clear you had a wonderful day. Ta.

  • Mary Murdock
    March 28, 2017 9:48pm

    True mastery of a craft is sadly rare in this age of industrialisation and robotics. Most people do not appreciate the time, attention to detail and expertise that make up a fine piece. Nor are they willing to pay the price asked for high quality work. Instead, we a have a throw away culture.

    This was an excellent and fun article. I learned something new and my interest was piqued to learn more, and, best of all, you have helped to promote a small manufacturer.

    Isn’t it better to go into debt for a while and have a piece of working art that you can hand down to your great grandchildren then to purchase 10 cheap pots in 10 years?

    Nice work and thanks so much.

  • GiGi
    March 28, 2017 9:49pm

    A friend who knows I love copper stopped at my house a few years ago and handed me a Mauviel copper 3 qt pan. She had just picked it up at a yard sale for $2. I nearly fell over. Use it often. Love it!
    GiGi

  • tim hartzer
    March 28, 2017 9:51pm

    On my list for our return trip to Normandie in September. Agree with all the others that this is one of your best visit posts. I too have memories of rooting around in the copper section of Deshillerin.

  • Sharon
    March 28, 2017 10:20pm

    This is the reason I love reading your blog. I enjoyed this post tremendously. Thank you!

    Could you kindly explain the benefits of cooking with copper pans and pots? The beauty is obvious, but I must admit i’m ignorant as too their advantages.
    Thanks

    • March 28, 2017 10:48pm

      Sharon, copper distributes heat beautifully and evenly, and you can use a lower heat because it is so conductive. Just have to keep it polished, but even that chore is a joy to see the beautiful color come to life again after cooking. ;)

  • Cal
    March 28, 2017 10:30pm

    This post brought me to heaven. Thank you

  • March 28, 2017 10:44pm

    What a fun post David! Loved the photos, Its was like being there, as most of us will never have the privilege. I went to my kitchen to dig out a big copper round gratin pan I used for paella years ago. Unfortunately it is not Mauviel but stamped Williams-Sonoma. Still, a beautiful, and expensive, pan. I remember the celebration dinner I cooked as an excuse to buy it. Thanks again for a wonderful post!

    • Helen Russo
      April 4, 2017 7:44am

      Hm, I wonder who made it for Williams-Sonoma? Mr. Williams was not one to get cheaply made cookware. I wonder if you could find out?!

  • March 28, 2017 11:09pm

    David,
    Thanks for a really great story . I have read it several times and have enjoyed it even more. This is one of your best!

  • Susan
    March 28, 2017 11:32pm

    I would love to do the tour. I have a couple of the stainless pieces.

    I have an very old jam pan I picked at a flea market in Germany. Lovely copper but with very hard to remove dark discoloration on the bottom. Have tried Bar Keepers , lemon and salt, no luck. Any suggestions

    • Jeanne
      March 29, 2017 5:40am

      I have had very good luck with copper cleaner. I use Twinkle but I’m sure many brands would work well.

  • Peter Longenecker
    March 29, 2017 12:36am

    Bach in 1985 I too bought about 14 pieces on copper cookware from E. Dehilleron. Had the same sameday experience — walking out of the store we made it across the street. Realizing our mistake, back to the store to have them shipped. Still have all, including two gratin pans.

    Another place we can recommend for retinning copper pans:
    Oregon Retinners, outsde Portland.
    They did an excellent job on a number of ours.

    http://oregonretinners.com/index.html

  • Jeanne
    March 29, 2017 3:01am

    Thank You for this beautiful post.

  • Gooser
    March 29, 2017 3:02am

    Thank you for the terrific entry. The factory tour makes me so jealous. I’ve been to the Villedieu-les-Poeles — for others wondering, the factory store is just outside of town. If you are driving in Normandy, it’s not far out of your way on the route from Bayeux and the D-Day beaches and Mont St. Michel. There is also a museum and artisan workshop in town (as linked above — the one with the shop in Paris) to go visit — and many shops selling copper (some, however, with imports, I was warned).

    I have the Mauviel tarte tatin and a number of their tinned and stainless lined pieces (plus some stainless pieces as well). The roasting pan is my favorite. I covet the pomme anna and the pomme vapeur

    I can also recommend Rocky Mountain Tinning, as linked above. They beautifully restored my vintage stockpot with fresh tin and a polish.

    • Bebe
      April 1, 2017 5:30am

      I understand that Normandy Metal Refinishers in Pasadena, CA (they have a website) refinishes all kinds of metals including retinning copper pots. They are also in Costa Mesa. They have been in business since 1927, so I imagine they know what they are doing, although I have never needed to use them. Have seen them recommended

  • Angharad
    March 29, 2017 4:01am

    We did the same tour plus video 20 yrs ago. We bought 3 casseroles lined with stainless steel as I didn’t think re-tinning would be easy. Still my everyday pots and pans although I don’t have them on display these days. Pretty spendy in the day but worth every penny.

  • Lucinda
    March 29, 2017 4:17am

    Love love love your factory tour posts. I, too, brought home a nice little stash of Mauviel from Dehillerin pre-9/11 (along with my husband’s Facom tools he bought at BHV). I actually think we carried these on — can you imagine? These perform so beautifully! Great memories of this shopping trip when they announced, “the spies from Williams Sonoma were just here.”

  • Bricktop
    March 29, 2017 2:58pm

    Turbotiere! The very existence of such a pot is why I adore the French.

  • Rosa
    March 29, 2017 3:46pm

    Beautiful post David, thanks for letting us go inside the wonderful world of copper.

  • March 29, 2017 5:06pm

    Love this post! Thanks so much for all the pictures and sharing.

  • March 29, 2017 5:59pm

    Oh, what a trip to copper heaven.Looking at all these beauties makes me reach out my hands to hold and admire each and every one of them. Great to have the mail for retinning inquiries – I have a beloved bain marie pot that I didn´t take care of as much as I should have, thinking of sending it to rehab right now. Thanks for the hint!

  • Alice
    March 29, 2017 7:11pm

    I felt like I was with you drinking in all the copper beauty. This post mirrors the Le Creuset factory post awhile back.So pleased people still craft useful & lovely things that are appreciated. I treasure my one old hammered copper piece along with the newer ones. Thank you for transporting me again to France!

  • KEN AVIS
    March 29, 2017 8:19pm

    thank you for posting most interesting and good to see craft like this is still continuing!! ,

  • March 30, 2017 12:10am

    I have been lusting after their copper cookware for years. When I buy my place in Provence, there will be a road-trip up to Normandy to get a set for the house.

  • Danièle, Montréal
    March 30, 2017 2:02am

    I wrote Mauviel (France) to find out how to condition the pans with stainless interiors prior to use so that food does not stick to the bottom but never got a reply.
    I have two of these wonderful pans that I don’t know how to use.
    Any suggestions?
    Merci !!
    .

    • Helen Russo
      April 4, 2017 7:56am

      Daniele, I have several stainless interior pots, one a Mauviel and one an All-Clad. I have not done anything to season them, however when I cook I let the pot warm up first, then add oil/butter and then when that is to the desired temperature, the food. I use a bit of water /stock with things I wish to steam. I even steam eggs in my Mauviel. They clean up like a dream. Once the pans are cool, I add cold water, then I use a plastic scrapper and maybe a bit of Bartender’s Friend. I rarely have an issue. If I do, a teaspoon of cream of tarter in water, in the pot, simmered for 20-30 minutes takes the most stubborn crud off. Hope this helps!!

  • Bebe
    March 30, 2017 5:52am

    What a treat this post is. Thank you so much, David, for lifting my spirits with your gorgeous pictures and lovely prose.

  • Cindi
    March 30, 2017 9:46pm

    Did the French use to make the copper pots without tin lining. Because I was in France at an antique store and bought a set of sauce pans. Very heavy with black wrought iron handles. They look like they have never had a tin lining

  • Caleb
    March 30, 2017 11:23pm

    Enviable tour! A few years ago I made a pilgrimage to Dehillerin with an empty suitcase and came back with two fry pans, a saute pan, a saucepan, and a tarte tatin.

    On your tour, did they happen to elaborate why they’ve discontinued the cast iron handles? I love my pieces and it’s almost impossible to find the remaining pieces to complete my collection!

    • March 31, 2017 6:55am
      David Lebovitz

      I did see some handles that looked to be cast iron at the factory (I took a picture of them, the 3rd one in the post) but not sure what they are attached to. I think some of the changes may be made because of the heft and weight. Heavy pans are harder to lift for people, which may have prompted the change in materials.

  • March 31, 2017 1:25am

    What a fabulous post and a great experience. Those copper pots and pans make me quiver!

  • Sue H
    March 31, 2017 4:41am

    Every year the Emile Henry/Mauviel warehouse in Wilmington Delaware opens to the public with discount prices. Every year I brave the lines and add to my collection! Fun to see where they are made.

  • Keyan Kaplan
    March 31, 2017 7:54pm

    David-I’ve always loved the look of copper-what’s it do for cooking? And suggestions for dining in Glasgow or Dublin btw? Never miss a post,
    Keyan

  • R Watkins
    March 31, 2017 10:42pm

    The handles are still cast iron, but now with an electroplated finish.

  • Susan
    April 1, 2017 1:17am

    I too have had pieces re-tinned by East Coast Tinning and would recommend. My pieces looked brand new when returned to me. Wonderful pictures here David.

  • Bebe
    April 1, 2017 5:22am

    I have a set of graduated sauce pots – Dehillerin, 1978, heaviest chef’s grade, hammered copper with tin lining. Used very little. Packed in box for quite a while. I believe there are 3 sizes. Each has a flat disc-type tin-lined copper lid with the same iron handle. Copper rivets hold the handles on. Also have several gratins, a handled pot that is probably 8 qts or so, some saute pans. The latter are smooth finish copper with tin linings,brass handled. The 8 qt. pot has a regular lid with brass handle on top.

    For a long time they were a lovely decorative feature in my country kitchen. That is a thing of the past…

    I still remember Dehillerin, going downstairs (?). Helped to buy by one of their well-known cranky salespersons (they must get tired of wide-eyed, know-nothing Americans like I was). The experience of being there and buying these lovely things was unforgettable.

    I am hoping to find a buyer in Southern California as the price of sending these anywhere is astronomical.

    • Bebe
      April 1, 2017 5:25am

      Forgot to mention that the sauce pots have their heavy iron handles. Not the black-looking handles they offer now. Everything on their site looks quite different.

  • Kristen
    April 1, 2017 9:01pm

    Thanks for writing and sharing this wonderful post.

  • Ms B
    April 1, 2017 9:23pm

    Please do design your own branded copper tarte tatin pan and then resell (perhaps as a benefit for a favorite charity?)

    I promise to order at least two and I bet that lots of your followers would as well …

    • Susie
      April 1, 2017 9:39pm

      What a great idea!!! Some organization that supports a cause both in the US and in France.

  • Marji
    April 2, 2017 12:23am

    OMG! OMG! this is the very BEST post – obviously you have made a lot of readers happy with it.
    I bought my own vintage copper jam pan last summer to make jam from an abundance of local plums. Got mine from France, on the Etsy shop Seriously Gorgeous, (which it is).Although the shipping cost as much as the pan, not 1971 in postage either! but still half the cost of a new one at Williams Sonoma. I love it and look forward to more jam making this summer. Glad to know the hammering makes it stronger, mine is on the bottom which is more work to clean, but would look pretty if it hung on the wall. Thank you for this virtual visit!

  • Cece Noll
    April 4, 2017 12:32am

    I enjoyed your visit to the Mauviel factory, and the video as well, though I would have loved to see the fluting of the cannelé molds. I am a die-hard francophile and I derive a great deal of pleasure out of your blog. Keep up the excellent work!

  • April 4, 2017 5:12pm

    Thanks for this absolutely wonderful and extremely informative post. Complimenti!

  • Dd
    April 6, 2017 2:50pm

    No wonder they r so expensive!
    I treasure my small set, but I believe they r lined w stainless steel.

  • Marsha McCollum Leutza
    April 8, 2017 7:12pm

    A friend left her copper pot cooking on the stovetop while we went to the movies ! I’ll never forgot the bubbling tin in the bottom of the pot when we got back.

  • April 9, 2017 9:52pm

    Seeing how things are made is incredibly fascinating! These pots are so beautiful – I will dream of having some one day…

  • CP
    April 26, 2017 5:29am

    For California Bay Area cooks, Johnson Plating in Oakland on Telegraph does retinning/restoration of copper pans. Johnson Plating Works
    2526 Telegraph Ave
    Oakland, CA 94612
    (510) 444-7671

3K Shares
Pin434
Share3K
Tweet
+17
Flip