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Antique European flair is furniture store's trademark

Who says you have to travel across the Atlantic Ocean to find European antiques and French reproductions?

The Provence Collection sells those home furnishings and more at its location in South Tampa, which opened in March.

The Tampa location is the fourth store for Belgium natives Gaston and Lutgarde Artois, who started in Miami 11 years ago. They opened a store in Davie in 1996 and another in High Point, N.C., in 1999.

Maggie Van Nerum manages the Tampa location.

The 6,000-square-foot store specializes in furniture, but Van Nerum says her hottest items are antique-looking wall clocks and faux paintings of landscapes and city scenes.

"They sell like cookies," she says.

The wall clocks range in size from 6 inches to 2 feet in diameter, with prices from $80 to $300. Some look like grandfather clock faces and others resemble those found on old ships.

The faux paintings are made by applying prints onto canvas and coating them with a finish, which gives them the look of original artwork for a fraction of the cost.

Antiques include a 1870s Belgian buffet for $6,495, an armoire from the same period for $6,750 and a corner hutch with intricately carved flowers and grapevines for $9,750. A cylindrical Swedish trunk goes for $795.

Items from The Provence Collection range from a convent table in cherry or oak that sells for $5,260 to an entertainment center for $11,130. The store also carries J.M. Paquet furniture.

Now on display are two couches upholstered in multiple fabrics, a new trend in home decor.

One couch features six fabrics in shades of deep red, purple, brown, blue and green. Each is made from different materials: velour, chenille, a loose herringbone weave and tapestries. The other couch adds leather. Customers design their own by picking the frame and the fabrics.

The Provence Collection is located at 1527 S Dale Mabry Highway. Hours are 10 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. Monday through Friday and 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Saturday. The complete catalog can be viewed online at www.theprovencecollection.com.

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