Archive for the ‘French Decor’ Category
All of us who love France find ways to nurture those feelings, to indulge often in the pleasant memories that stay with us for weeks and weeks after our travels. And so it is with my painting, as if touching brush and pen to paper will resurrect the best of our times in France.
One of my favorites, this ‘vitrail’ painting returns me to the one of the most enchanting times of our last stay in Paris. With our dear friends we were invited to brunch at the home of his brother and family in the 16th arrondissement. We enjoyed a warm welcome from our hosts, their two young-adult student children and the Russian exchange student, who was residing in their ‘chamber de bonne’ for a year. Instantly we have the mix of generations and diverse cultures to guarantee lively conversations!
We gathered in their lovely dining room – with the table set before this magnificent window and spread, of course, with all kinds of enticing fare from the patisserie, charcuterie and local market. As we spread artisan breads with fresh local jams and sampled an assortment of meats and cheeses, we shared little slices of our lives.
I particularly remember talking about different expressions and ways of life. We refer to ‘raining cats and dogs’. The French – ‘raining ropes’. Our ‘turncoats’ are traitors. Theirs turn their coats inside out – quelqu’un qui a retourné sa veste. The daughter asks, “What IS a food court?” I think her question was borne less of really expecting some kind of definition and more of trying to comprehend why you would have such a thing. That’s not exactly surprising given all of the intimate café choices one has in Paris!
As if we had not been immersed in enough culture and charm, we wandered a bit on leaving and found ourselves in front of the home of Hector Guimard – designer of the famous Art Deco metro entrances. Quite an afternoon, so I’m sure you don’t wonder at my desire to resurrect the whole thing!
Hoping you have a “Bon Weekend!”
I love the slices of life you see through windows in France … and elsewhere, but you know where my heart lies! We enjoyed the good fortune of honeymooning in Paris, where our friend’s apartment overlooked a boulevard facing a typical five-story residential building. Reminding me of the famous Rear Window movie, we could look across to our unknown neighbors to glimpse little moments in their lives.
An elder man positioned a Christmas tree in the corner of his living room. Oddly, we never noticed the addition of lights and ornaments. Below his apartment, a couple walked back and forth through their brightly-lit rooms, ostensibly readying their place for the arrival of another couple a bit later in the evening.
From the bedroom window of our pleasant gîte near Chateau de Chennonceau, we looked out on a wildly colorful balloon rising above the trees. Through our hotel window in Normandy, we watched two older women with fishing gear progress up the grassy hill en route, we supposed, to a dinner of their grilled “catch of the day”.
Village windows capture vivid earth and sky colors in their protective shutters. Delicate lace curtains detail themes, and rich swishes of elegant taffeta and satin set a tone of grandeur over soaring windows.
So it’s not surprising, you see, that my paintbrush would gravitate to window scenes! So many sights, individual stories and imaginings!
I don’t think I stretch any limits in guessing that at least 90 percent of visitors to France take one or two photos – if not many more – of French doors. And, no, I don’t mean those double-glassed doors we come to think of as “French doors”.
I mean the doors of many colors – deep green or bright blue, russet or yellow. Doors with interesting grills or set beneath an arbor of grapes. Honestly, these portes to the inner home have such an appeal, that we can scarcely pass them without a click!
During my first trip to France, I noticed the wonderfully grand entrance door to my friend’s early 19th century building. Then, we were off to the Loire Valley and wandering through Blois, when I saw a deep red door with a rustic, old wrought iron knocker. In Bracieux, a small village, an entry with a windowed-door was dressed with a quaint, cotton lace curtain.
Needless to say, I was hooked; but I know a part of my curiosity lay in imagining the life beyond the door. Was a family within or an elder lady with her little dog? Or was an immigrant family behind that door feeling gratitude for their opportunity to live and work in France?
Sorry – don’t mean to wax poetic, but it was a distinct memory that evoked my desire to paint “La Porte Accueillant”. My husband and I stayed a couple of nights at a lovely gîte – La Pradasse – in the small town of Ayguesvives near Toulouse. One day we wandered along a country road canopied with beautiful plane trees, until we came to a small town – Villefranche-de-Lauragais – not our ‘destination’, just a place to stop for lunch and explore.
We enjoyed lunch in a little brasserie, before exploring a town that had battened down for the extended noon meal. What I most remember was walking along narrow streets with inviting doors and bright shutters closed to the mid-day heat. We could hear the murmur of voices and even the sounds of cutlery against porcelain, as the residents of those little homes gathered for their meal. So, it really wasn’t so much that those particular doors were beautiful, but they served as the portals for those who lived behind them.
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I was walking through the local park with a friend in our oh-so-upscale little ‘village’ in Florida, when a woman walked toward us. My friend commented to her, “Oh, I like your purse.” She paused a half step and responded “Dior”, before stepping her way on down the walkway.
Now that’s what I call name-dropping, particularly in the face of an innocent compliment and about as boorish as it is ill-mannered. So why am I going on about ‘name-dropping’? Because that is precisely what I intend to do in discussing one of my favorite topics – sumptuous, breathtaking, lovely-to-touch French fabrics.
You simply can’t cover the topic properly without a touch of D. Porthault here and Frey there. There now. Please accept my rather limp apology for this transgression.
Naturally you can discover fine French linens and fabrics in a number of boutiques and high-end department stores in the United States, but I have discovered a very nice, comprehensive on-line store with an impressive offering of table linens, towels, kitchen and bedroom textiles and fabric by the yard (or meter). French-brand.com offers what may be the widest selection of Designer Luxury Bedding anywhere on the Internet. Imagine the wealth of choices – over 45 brands from France and elsewhere and up to 50 designs per brand in silk, pure linen, cotton mixes, Egyptian and Organic Cotton.
Let’s just introduce a small sampling …. Like The Company Olivier Thévenon Sélection, created in 1908 and specializing in upholstery fabrics, coordinating net and jacquards. Moutet is another from the French Basque country with very traditional stripes as well as crisp and colorful contemporary designs. Pierre Frey is synonymous with luxury in home décor and fabulous fabric and wallpaper designs. In the wonderful French tradition, Pierre Frey brings a sumptuous look and feel to any room with a blend of touch, sight and harmony among patterns.
I love to shop at the base of Montmartre in Paris, where textile shops fill the streets from multi-story department stores to barely-large-enough-to-walk-around-in boutiques. It is one of my favorite pastimes. Perhaps, I have now discovered ‘the next best thing’ to shopping there.
Copyright © 2005-2017, LuxeEuro, LLC. Photo and text, all rights reserved
As the holidays approach, my mind turns to excellence in craftsmanship. Bien sur, French artisans rise to the top! At gift-giving time, I am inclined toward somewhat impractical gifts that bestow history, beauty and superb craftsmanship. That ‘one fine thing’ I might find for a friend or family member can transport the recipient well away from mundane, everyday concerns to a world apart. I hasten to add that searching for bargains on ebay and elsewhere helps considerably in underwriting my quirky habits!
I made quite an interesting discovery in my search for gifts – an organization devoted to French luxury houses and cultural institutions. Founded in 1954, the Comité Colbert gathers those prestigious members with the goal of working together to promote French ‘art de vivre’ in the international marketplace. Today numbering 78 luxury houses and 14 cultural institutions, the committee is bound by founding values that mirror exactly what I was espousing at the beginning of this post – “…the dignity of hand crafts, respect, high standards and innovations….”
I’m sure you can imagine many on the prestigious roster – from Chanel and Christian Dior, Dalloyau and Christofle to Pierre Frey, Hermés and Hôtel Ritz. One member epitomizes the group’s vision and values – Delisle Paris. Founded in 1895, the prominent bronzier d’art celebrates 120 years of astounding craftsmanship that enhances sites not only throughout France but across the globe.
Delisle projects cover a fascinating array of revered historic locales. The 350-plus lanterns that illuminate the Paris Royal galleries of Paris have been under the tender care of the luxury house for over 40 years. Nesting pigeons and ball-playing children can play havoc with these masterpieces! When the city of Paris decided to bring forth the magnificent rostral columns of Place de la Concorde that were stored in the Grand Palais cellars, Delisle was the natural choice for the large-scale restoration of the cast-iron rostra and top-set lanterns.
Now, I readily admit to you that I won’t be commissioning a $142,000 chandelier, such as the one created for a Moscow customer; and I haven’t been able to even locate, much less purchase, a Delisle candlestick. But I love knowing that when we visit the Grand Trianon in Versailles or wander into the Shangri-La hotel in Paris, we will be well aware of the creators of their gorgeous lighting.
Copyright © 2005, LuxeEuro, LLC. Photo and text, all rights reserved