Need a new vase for your flowers? A gift for your green-thumbed friend? Advice how to revive a dying cactus? Or looking for a plant sitter? Here is your one-stop shop.
Autour du Pot, a small boutique in rue Benoît Bunico in Old Town Nice is just a stone’s throw away from the tourist-packed Place Rossetti with its historic monuments, cheesy knickknack shops, and a record number of ice cream parlours per square foot. But it might as well be a different planet. When you push the door, you enter a tranquil oasis that instantly lets you forget the hullabaloo outside. Here nature, creativity, and artisan work reign supreme, a pastel colour palette sets a relaxed ambience, honey-colored furniture and a big friendly dog make you feel like you are stepping into a friend’s house, and Florence Robini, the charming owner, extends you a cordial welcome. Come in, enjoy, and go back to the roots, quite literally.
Plants are everywhere here – but don’t be mistaken, this is not a flower shop or a nursery. The real stars of the show are the humble pots they live in. Not just any pots though – the ones here are witness to the fact that mundane, everyday objects can be an absolute thing of beauty. And arranged with an artist’s eye, they might as well be on display at a gallery.
Gifted with a green thumb, Florence wanted to showcase plants to their best advantage, and set out to find pots, baskets, hangers, vases, and accessories that highlight their natural beauty, in the same way that a magnificent painting would still be enhanced by a superb frame. And thus was born the concept of “Autour du Pot”, a French wordplay which of course refers to the flower pot but also implies the conviviality around a shared glass between friends.
In a way, this small shop is the culmination of Nice-born Florence’s multi-faceted career. She is one of those people who effortlessly turn passion and talent into enriching opportunities. Some stops along her CV include studies of the plastic arts and sociology, and work experience as a picture framer and librarian. She was even a school sports coordinator for pre-teens on their way to high performance sports careers. But while from her earliest childhood on she already had her hands in the soil at every opportunity she could, plants and their accessories never really made it on her professional radar.
That changed when one day she discovered a ramshackle garage in rue Benoit Bunico that was no longer in use. She could envision how to give the sorry space a new lease on life by filling it with light, love, and gorgeous artisanal flower pots… and at Easter 2022, Autour du Pot opened.
Isn’t such a concept pretty daring in an age where you can order plastic pots online for €2.95 a piece? “Oh no, not at all,” Florence declares emphatically. “Because people who love plants, tend to have a well developed aesthetic sense.” Her success proves her right. Between plants and the odd art object, the flower pots and accessories sold here are objects of beauty unto themselves, sourced from manufacturers and artisans around the world. On one of the days we visited we talked to Romain Pardeau, a regular customer who tells us that “often, I buy the pot first, and then find the right plant to match it”.
Twenty-year old Romain is representative for many of Florence’s clients. “Surprisingly, a lot of young people – especially young men, aged just about 15 or 16 – come here to buy,” the shopkeeper tells us. “Ever since the pandemic, it seems that they have rediscovered nature. Plant sales have gone up 2,000%!” She thinks that caring for something in this increasingly isolated and complicated world fills an innate need. “Plants have become like friends or housemates for them.”
Today, the shop has become much more than just a place to procure a pretty flower pot. It has become a convivial place to meet, to discuss, to get advice for plant care, and to reconnect with the true, authentic Nice of yesteryear. Florence always has a kind word for all, as well as great tips how to make the most of plants. She can turn the most desolate balcony or patio into a lush green space.
And she offers another unique service: plantsitting. If you are planning on going on vacation and you already know that your well-intentioned neighbor overwaters your beloved orchids, or the kid from downstairs forgets to swing by and care for the parched ficus, just give Florence a call, she will take tender loving care of your green friends.
AUTOUR DU POT
SUMMER OPENING HOURS 10h-14h and 16h-20h, closed on Thursdays
23, rue Benoît Bunico
Phone : 04 93 79 25 59
Lead image © Natja Igney; all other photos courtesy Autour du Pot unless otherwise credited