071015frnchmkt1The charming facade of the newly opened French Market on East River Road in Rumson. Below,  a variety of tarts and pastries.  (Photos by Susan Ericson. Click to enlarge)


071015frnchmkt4What happens when three gourmet-food-loving friends get together for a meal? In the case of Carli Windsor, Pamela Best and Robert Smith, they decide to open a store in Rumson.

And if the resulting French Market feels a little like deja vu to locals, it’s because the new owners were fans of Le Bon Panier, the French-inspired food market that previously occupied the same building at 114 East River Road.

071015frnchmkt6Carli Windsor front left, one of three owners, chats with a customer. (Photo by Susan Ericson. Click to enlarge)

“It started with my desire to open a French market,” says South African expat and Fair Haven resident Windsor, who works in New York as a cosmetics package design. “I worked on a detailed presentation and sought a few investors. Pamela and I have been friends for over 10 years. We realized that the spot was for rent and we thought, ‘why not?'”

Smith adds, “We’ve been dreaming about this.”

With three artful owners – Smith is an interior designer and Best is in the fashion industry –  it’s no surprise that the decor of the new market is visually stunning, evoking an enticing, serene and bucolic atmosphere.

One area of the chic interior is dedicated to a patisserie, while other areas are filled with fresh baked breads, a cheese case and imported dry goods.

Pastry chef Laurent Chavenet, a French expat now living on Staten Island, where he owns the French Tart, is at the helm of the grab ‘n go kitchen.

In the pastry case, full-sized and miniature tarts are available, including a Chocolate Suicide tart and a Death by Chocolate tart. Croissants, quiche, crepes and other baked delicacies will all be available.

The daily menu offers fresh breakfast rolls – including as eggs and cheese on croissant, crepes filled with everything from eggs to the traditional ham, cheese and bechamel sauce – as well as panini and specialty sandwiches.

Imported cheeses, house-made butter with fleur de sel, and specialty items from D’Artagnan, a gourmet meat supplier, fill another case in the store. Tea, coffee, imported salt and other dry goods are available for purchase.

The French Market is open Monday through Saturday, from 6 a.m. to 7 p.m, and on Sunday from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m.