French Culture Guide

French Culture in New York, with a Touch of Paris

Classic Fun With Vilac Toys

  • Sharebar


The French are celebrated for their classic style of production. In everything from fashion to food, the French are experts in designing objects of both beauty and quality without “overdoing it.” Whether it’s a little black dress by Chanel or a colorful macaron from Ladurée, the French are experts at producing simple beauty. There is a term in Italian, sprezzatura, which I wish had a French translation. In essence, sprezzatura is effortless elegance, and the French really pull it off.


Surprisingly, nowhere is this more evident than in French toy making. An appreciation for simplicity and aesthetic pervades even this industry usually dominated by electronic, jabbering monstrosities courtesy of Mattel. The French toy making company Vilac has been producing classic, wooden toys in the traditional style since 1911. Headquartered in the Jura Mountains near Switzerland (a country that shares France’s love for beautifully carved, wooden trinkets), Vilac has harvested the finest woods to produce toys of both enduring quality, beauty, and fun! Specializing in wooden cars, Vilac also interprets classic toy designs like the jump rope, the dog-pulley, play swords, piggybanks, and stackable rings. They also take some creative (and innovative) liberties
in producing more original, but nevertheless fun, products. These include a wooden boat propelled by a balloon, play cell phones equipped with real bells, and original board games. Vilac is the undeniable choice for Francophile parents looking to separate their children from the television screen – a great way to introduce your kids to the famous quality of French products at an early age!


Vilac wooden toys are available direct from the company at, or more locally at children’s boutiques in New York like Estella NYC (493 6th Avenue in Manhattan,


By Jake Flanagin