January 7, 2001

Le Grenier de La Cote
La Grange du Leman

Nine Antique Dealers share premises on the grounds of a former foundry in Morges
Irresistible! 1400 square meters of antiques in a single neighborhood!

Getting there:
700 meters from the center of Morges on the lake road, Lausanne side of town
Address: 43 rue de Lausanne.

Hours: Monday to Friday, 14:00 to 18:30, Saturday, 10 to 17.

Le Grenier de La Cote
(6 dealers: 1000 square meters)
Telephone: 021.803.39.22

"One of the great pleasures is to find an neglected piece of furniture and to see it reborn under the hands of one of our restorers!"
Manager Monique Karlen

There is no typical path into the antique business, and like many others, Monique Karlen and her husband Jean-Jacques, a retired school director, found their way into the field somewhat by chance -- and with a little help from their two sons.

While the boys were attending college, Monique encouraged them to make a small business of selling second-hand objects, at first books, records and small knickknacks, in the flea market on the place de la Rippone in Lausanne. As we talk, Monique glances into a side room where one of her sons is lending a hand unloading books. Nodding in his direction, she says proudly "He's a medical doctor now."

The extra cash from the flea market gave their sons spending money in school. But before long the entire family was caught up in the enterprise.

Today the focus of the Karlen's shop is on furniture: country tables, armoires, chairs. "It seems that people are looking for practical things, things to furnish their homes," says Monique Karlen. "One of the greatest pleasures of this business is to find a neglected piece of furniture and see it come back to life after a visit to the ebeniste."

Seven years ago, the Karlens seized the opportunity to set up the cooperative at Grenier de La Cote when an old foundry on the rue de Lausanne outside of Morges became available. The Karlen's and a group of other dealers were about to lose similar premises in another old factory which was slated to be demolished. The Karlens rented the building, stripped, painted and refurbished the interior.

Today the old foundry is divided into six sections of different sizes spanning 1000 square meters. The largest section belongs to the Karlens, which is immediately to the left as you enter the building. To the right is the stand of Victor Fissé, who is one of the principal organizers of the excellent autumn antique fair held in a tent outside Morges.

"This is Ali Baba's cave," says Monique Karlen. And indeed, it is hard to walk out the door without a treasure in hand!

Mrs. Karlen in the shop
Among the objects which can be seen in the photo are:

Anonymous painting of a nude in a style reminiscent of Swiss painter Gustave-Francois-Jules Barraud. View close up of painting.

A Baroque style armoire in pine, probably late 19th or early 20th Century.

On the table are cake molds and a variety of antique tools and lanterns. The second object behind the table resembling a watering can with a funnel on top is an "Echaudeur" in copper, used by winemakers to treat their crops. Similar pieces can be seen in the Musée Vaudois de La Vigne et du Vin in the Chateau of Aigle.

La Grange du Leman
(3 dealers: 400 Square Meters)
Telephone: 021.801.87.57

To your left as you exit Le Grenier is another large building housing the fascinating collections of three women dealers. La Grange du Leman's focus is on curious objects and furniture from the 19th Century to the 1950s. On a recent visit I particularly noticed a variety of reasonably priced art nouveau frames, a beautiful set of amber toned seltzer bottles, a wide selection of old prints, and a very unusual antique bird cage with hand painted details. (See photo below) There is also a broad selection of furniture in all styles for all budgets.

Opposite: La Grange du Leman. Floor to ceiling, a jumble of tempting objects.

Below: Of particular interest in La Grange du Leman are the unique restorations by Annie Wettstein, who uses zinc treatments and chalk-toned distemper paints to give new life to old country style furniture.

Restaurants nearby:

La Fleur du Lac
500 meters further on the opposite side of the Rue du Lausanne. There is an expensive but excellent restaurant over looking the lake, and a small modestly appointed cafe which offers high quality but reasonably priced menus on weekdays and Saturdays. Vegetarian dishes available.

Hotel du Mont Blanc
Excellent food and a diverse menu at this popular establishment in the center of Morges. In the summer, sit on the nice outdoor terrace overlooking the lake.

Giving old furniture a contemporary face lift
A unique display case restored by Annie Wettstein, La Grange du Leman.