Antique Cement Tiles
Robin wanted to stick to the traditional non-baked cement tile. They add a lot of local character. Check out my Instagram for a couple photos of local cement time floors. These tiles are well known in Portugal, but have been used all over Europe. In Provence, they are quite popular and if you’re not used to them you may think they are a bit too “busy.” Finding these beautiful tiles is not difficult here in Provence. However, to make our lives more difficult, we wanted the antique tiles rather than the reproduced versions. This is our search for the patterned bathroom tile…
Sourcing the Tiles
Going to the Materiaux Anciens warehouse in Tarascon was slightly torturous because there are too many beautiful original specimens. Unfortunately, our budget didn’t allow for any of them. I was intrigued to find a lot of the shipping labels were for the States and England.
As we were on the lookout for the real thing, we searched in my brocantes/vide greniers for brocanteurs selling recuperated vintage materials. Michel had these tiles that I wouldn’t normally have considered but we found them to be quite beautiful- and certainly full of character.
The problem was that he didn’t have quite enough. We tried adding another type of tile around the edge of the pattern, but I think it would have just been too much in a small bathroom. The French often suggest to use a pattern in the middle of the floor and then surround it with a plain tile (like a carpet I suppose). Personally, I’m not wild about the idea. I think that would only work in a large room.
These antique tiles are 3 euros a tile. Reproductions are only a little less but lack that beautiful weathered condition. We even considered using these terra cotta interchanging tiles in our bathroom.
The Final Decision
Our problem with the cement tiles was agreeing on a pattern (and colour!) we both liked. Robin likes the more geometric patterns and I like the more organic. We spent hours searching the web, looking at random piles of tiles in people’s garages and in the end, will you believe it, we bought these at our local DIY store. The pattern was discontinued and there was only one box left on the shelf. I snarled at anyone looking at that box while Robin ran to get the cart.
We decided to go for the plain tile in the shower for a little contrast. We use the best mop for tile floors to help keep the tiles clean and so far, they’re looking really good! I’m so pleased with them. This photo isn’t great but you get the idea!