Paris natives Matthieu and Laure Chatin are no different from many who have made a trip to the North Fork, in that they came for the first time and fell in love with its natural beauty, proximity to the water, and relatively short drive to the hustle and bustle of New York City.
But they aren't like many who have made a trip to the North Fork, in that they uprooted their life on the other side of the Atlantic Ocean to move to an area and start a business where they know no one.
"We said it was the right place, and right moment to move and start something else," said Matthieu.
After moving to Mattituck in June of 2010, the Chatins celebrated last Thursday the opening of their offering to the North Fork, Esprit de France - a gallery on Route 25 in Aquebogue that sells unique and exotic pieces of art. Many are focused on the concept of "upcycling" - using old materials for a newer, more sustainable use - and several pieces are made by third-world artists, such as baskets made by a rural women's cooperative in Ghana.
Chatin said his outlook at Esprit de France is largely influenced by his past experience working in the humanitarian field, where he traveled throughout Africa. Artists featured at Esprit de France range from Senegal to Egypt to French Guyana to Mexico - though works are done by French artists.
The Chatins purchased the property, just east of the former Fauna restaurant and across the street from , in October of 2010. Last fall, the on the property's site - which was previously just a home. Now, the property hosts three separate units, Esprit de France being one. Chatin is hoping to host a tasting room in back, and space next door remains open.
"We want to offer something different and eclectic to the community," Chatin said. "Our goal is to be the exact opposite of made in China. To have something our neighbors will never have."