Grist to the mill: Peugeot from crinolines to cars (and pepper mills)

Peugeot pepper and salt mills

Peugeot pepper and salt mills

I always thought the Peugeot brand was associated just with cars and cycles. That is, until the trusty Perspex salt and pepper mills that have accompanied me for more than 30 years gave up the ghost. We toddled off to our nearest kitchen shop at Villefranche-de-Rouergue last week to seek replacements.

Favourite Shop

Ambiance et Styles is one of my favourite shops. Whoever does the window displays has an eye for design and colour. They can even make a display of vacuum cleaner bags look enticing. The store is crammed full of stylish gadgets that you didn’t know you needed. They also have a separate section with china and glassware to die for.

A lot of their stuff is practical, too. We bought our woodburning stove there nearly 17 years ago, a sturdy Norwegian Jøtul that is still going strong. In fact, it’s one of the best investments we’ve made here. And our jolly Provencal-style plasticised kitchen tablecloth is almost as old: just needs a wipe down to keep it clean.

The selection of salt and pepper mills on offer was pretty impressive. They ranged from traditional styles to state-of-the-art items that looked like mini space modules. They even had electrically-operated models – with a price tag to match.

Looking at the labels, I realised that many of them bore the lion brand of Peugeot, which was a surprise. Having selected suitable replacements for our defunct pair (at a cool €73), I decided to find out more.

Longstanding Brand

The Peugeot brand started off in 1810 when two Peugeot brothers transformed the family grain mill in the Franche-Comté region into a steel foundry. They made saws, springs and steel rods. In 1840, they branched out into coffee mills and in 1874 into pepper mills. In between, they also made crinoline hoops, sewing machines and bicycles.

The experiment with cars began in the 1880s and the vehicle manufacturing side has continued in various guises up to the present day. Cycle and car manufacturing were separated into different companies in 1896, merged again in 1910 and then split apart again later.

Parting of the Ways

Peugeot logo

Peugeot logo

I can’t find out exactly when the kitchen appliances part split off from the rest. However, a company called Peugeot Saveurs now makes the pepper and salt mills. They also make traditional style coffee grinders and wine glasses and wine accessories. A far cry from the vehicle production line.

The famous lion brand itself was first used in 1850, depicting a lion standing on an arrow. In 1950, the car and cycle manufacturer changed to the lion rampant that is still the logo today, although it’s now more stylised. Peugeot Saveurs still uses the lion and arrow logo.

I will look at my salt and pepper mills through different eyes in future.

You might also like:

Getting the Blues: the Pastel Trade in SW France
Art on the Menu
Wine Blight: How the French Wine Industry was Almost Wiped Out

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About nessafrance

My husband and I moved to an 18th-century farmhouse in SW France in 1997. I am fascinated by French history, rural traditions and customs and enjoy seeking out the reality behind the myths. I run my own copywriting business and write short stories and the occasional novel in my spare time. My husband appears here as the SF, which stands for Statistics Freak, owing to his penchant for recording numbers about everything.
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9 Responses to Grist to the mill: Peugeot from crinolines to cars (and pepper mills)

  1. James says:

    Thanks for this. We were just in the pub and noticed the Peugeot lion logo which initiated quite some speculation. Your research helped us avoid further investigation. That is good because we are a bit hungover.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Pingback: A Cut Above the Rest: Laguiole Knives | Life on La Lune

  3. gillianbrown1 says:

    Interesting, Vanessa. We’ve had Peugeot salt and pepper mills for about ten years – came free from Société Génèrale from points gained (in other words ‘free’ at the time though most likely from spending too much on the credit card). Never knew the history. Thanks!

    Like

  4. Evelyn says:

    I know exactly which kitchen store you’re talking about…I avoid it to preserve my bank account. They have gorgeous things….like your new salt and pepper mills. Very interesting information about Peugeotj!

    Like

    • nessafrance says:

      Yes, I have to keep my hand firmly on my wallet when I go in there. I justified this purchase by telling myself that this was my first salt and pepper mill set in more than 30 years!

      Like

  5. Mimi says:

    Très intéressant! Qui aurait cru?

    Like

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