Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Details from Paris and the Paris Flea Market

After attending my cousin’s wedding in London, my aunt, uncle, daughter and I took the Eurostar over to Paris for a 5 day visit. We rented an apartment in the 5th arrondissement, in the Latin Quarter, a left bank neighborhood that gets its name from the numerous university students in the area that spoke only Latin to their professors until around the time of the French Revolution.  Although the apartment itself was nothing to write home about (to put it politely), the area was wonderful – well located but off the beaten path, in a vibrant and un-touristy area, with easy access to all of the attractions either by walking or taking the bus and métro.  Another great advantage was that there were many good neighborhood restaurants, which we appreciated after a long day seeing the sights. My daughter and I particularly liked the wonderful boulangeries (bakeries) in the area, and had a marvelous French breakfast every day.

This was my second trip to Paris – I went for the first time 5 years ago. Because it was my daughter’s first visit, we went to many of the well known tourist destinations.   We also carved out a morning to visit the famous Paris Flea Market, known as Les Puces de Saint-Ouen. It is only open Saturday-Monday, and reportedly receives over 100,000 visitors each weekend!  We took the métro to Porte de Clignancourt, which is at the end of Line 4, and it was SO easy. Luckily, I had read a good overview of the Flea Market on Oh Happy Day,  and knew that the first market that you pass – more of a swap meet – is NOT Les Puces (many first time visitors never get beyond this first area, thinking they have arrived at Les Puces, and they are very disappointed).  It is important to go all the way beyond this first market, and under the overpass. Typically there will be a sizable group of people getting off the métro and heading to Les Puces, so we pretty much ‘followed the crowd’ until we got to the area of the market indicated on Oh Happy Day’s map.

I have read so many stories about people finding the perfect treasure at Les Puces, but I am not sure if I have the eye, the patience, or the budget  to have that experience! Primarily, I was on the hunt for a barometer, and also thought I would educate my eye on antique chandeliers.

I had done a little bit of research on the Paris Flea Market, but not a lot, so I didn’t really have many preconceived notions. I was also not planning on doing a blog post on my experience, so I didn’t take many pictures of the market itself.  One thing that surprised me was how the Flea Market is made up of numerous different markets that are located in different areas, buildings, and streets.  Each one has its own character and offerings.

One of my favorites was Marche Biron, as the quality of the merchandise is top notch (and the prices reflect this).  I saw several things at Marche Biron that I had admired on the 1st Dibs Paris site.  Loi from Tone on Tone recently wrote a post on Les Puces, and he highly recommended Marche Biron for its “classic French antiques, fine artwork and dripping crystal chandeliers” – right up my alley! I was not disappointed.

One of the beautiful crystal chandeliers seen at the Paris Flea Market.

I admired this barometer, which is also on the Paris 1st Dibs site.

A pretty Baccarat chandelier at one of the vendors in the Marche Biron.

I wish we had been able to spend more time at Marche Paul-Bert and Marche Serpette, which had a great mix of indoor and outdoor dealers with a wide range of items, from the formal to the casual. This was towards the end of the street, and my group had really petered out after spending a few hours at some of the other buildings; in particular, we spent a lot of time at Marche Dauphine, not because it was so exceptional but because it was so big (over 60,000 square feet).  By the time we came out of Marche Dauphine, we were really tired.  We headed over to Marche Paul-Bert and Marche Serpette, but just did a quick pass through.  I would recommend researching the different markets before heading over there, and making a list of markets you definitely want to see first (based on recommendations and descriptions).

I thought the whole experience was interesting, and I am so glad that I went. Truthfully, I barely scratched the surface, and I will certainly return to Les Puces in the future.  (See end of this post for Paris Flea Market resources if you are planning a trip there; many of these links have great pictures of the Flea Market).

Other than the trip to Les Puces, this was not a shopping trip, but I took a few pictures of windows that caught my eye. The gallery in the St-Germain-des-Prés area featured a striking collection of framed sketches.

An attractive display in a lamp store...is there any doubt that brass is back in style when looking at this tableau? I like the one on the right that adjusts and pivots.

The beautiful doors in Paris are a constant source of inspiration.  This one features elaborate ironwork, and intricate stone carving. Note how the architect’s name is carved into the stone (on the upper right), as well as the year of the building.

This gray door, with initials in the windows, was on a non-descript street and sits next to a sushi bar, yet is a thing of beauty.

Blue doors always have appeal. I love the center knob design of so many of the doors.

Another blue door, with a limestone surround that looks like it has the patina of decades of city life.

A glimpse inside a charming courtyard…usually the doors to the couryards are closed, but I love it when they are open and I can take a peek.  Notice how the potted boxwoods define the entry to the home.  I like the greenery that grows in abundance around and over the door.

Of course, since I had just noted the pretty planters in London, I also snapped a few iphone pictures of classic French style planters seen in the gardens around Paris:

An olive toned French planter at the Jardin du Luxembourg.

Two different terracotta pots contain these trees on a street corner.

Orange trees contained in classic French planters, painted a beautiful shade of green, in the Tuileries Garden.

And finally, one of my favorite places in Paris, La Sainte-Chapelle. It is right near Notre Dame, and the second floor, which has stained glass on all sides, is absolutely breathtaking on a sunny day. Five years ago there was no scaffolding, and I was absolutely stunned when I emerged from the small curvy stairs into the stain glass room.   This time, there was extensive preservation work being performed, so one of the walls was covered, and other walls had scaffolding outside. Still, a magnificent experience.

While I was at La Sainte-Chapelle, a high school choir gathered and performed several songs – it looked fairly impromptu, but I am sure they had it all planned out.  It was a memorable experience! It turns out that they were from Atlanta – the Woodward Academy choir. Small world.

A view of the rose window – I did a post on rose windows in 2007 (seen here) – I find them to be so incredibly beautiful and majestic.

Here are some resources that would be helpful for anyone planning a visit to the Paris Flea Market  (Les Puces) – these posts are also a great way to get a virtual tour of the markets.

The Oh Happy Day post was a very helpful introduction about how to actually find the Paris Flea Market once getting off the metro: http://ohhappyday.com/2011/03/how-to-get-to-the-paris-flea-market/  She also has a good map that I printed off and used as a guide.

I also enjoyed reading the recent blog post by Loi on his recent trip to the Flea Market (he is an antique dealer, so this was a great perspective, and there are lots of beautiful pictures) - http://toneontoneantiques.blogspot.com/2013/04/lets-go-antiquing-in-paris.html

http://www.hedleyshumpers.com/property_news.html  - this is a shipper that can arrange for pickup, packing, and delivery of items purchased, but they also have an interesting and informative page on the Paris Flea Market, describing the various markets.

Paris Perfect also has a great article on the Paris Flea Market, with hints and tips for visitors. http://www.parisperfect.com/paris-flea-markets.php

This post has a lot of pictures, which show how to navigate your way to the market, and lots of pictures of the market itself. It’s a great way to see the mix of the high and the low that can be found at the Paris Flea Market. http://anyportinastorm.proboards.com/index.cgi?board=pictures&action=display&thread=3319

After my last post, I had dozens of emails from people who are planning a visit to Paris this year.  Have you ever been?  What are your favorite things to do?  Have you ever been to Les Puces (the Paris Flea Market)? Please share any tips and recommendations for my next visit, and for the readers who will be traveling to Paris this year! Email subscribers, click here to comment.

The beautiful vintage French painting collection is still available until Friday -  http://www.quatrefoildesign.bigcartel.com/product/rare-and-stunning-collection-of-old-and-vintage-french-paintings

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Saturday, June 22, 2013

Gallery wall of beautiful French paintings

A friend of mine is an antique dealer in Atlanta, and she travels to Europe several times a year on buying trips.  One of her favorite areas is Lyon, France, the capital of the Rhône-Alpes region of France, an area known for its outstanding food and magnificent art school.

My friend has an excellent eye, and I love everything that she sells. In particular, I was struck with this beautiful group of old and vintage French paintings that she collected over a period of several years; all of the paintings were found in the Lyon, France area, and were painted by French artists.  The paintings themselves are lovely, but it is the artful way in which they were arranged that truly enhances their beauty and impact.    A collection like this only presents itself on rare occasions (and would take many years to collect!).

I am delighted to announce that my friend is offering this rare grouping of original French paintings for sale on the Quatrefoil Design store for one week only, ending Friday June 28.  Here is the store item, should you be interested in purchasing this group of 16 paintings for yourself or a client:

An approximate of individual measurements can be found in the picture above. Estimated overall measurement of gallery wall grouping is roughly 38"x61", based on how the paintings are hung on the wall in the pictures. They can, of course, be hung any way the owner desires – my friend chose to hang them in this arrangement which I think is quite effective, but the possibilities are endless!

Of particular note:
  • The large oblong painting is by Luc Belin. Born in Avignon 1878, died 1957. Listed in Benezit.
  • Village painting at the top in the middle is titled "Le Lezards a Harfleur de Normandie"
  • All paintings are oil on board except the one on the very bottom in the middle. It is an aqualrelle (water color). All are framed as pictured.
  • All paintings are original and are by French artists
  • This listing is for the 16 paintings hanging on wall only. They are only being sold as a group. The other items in the pictures are for sale individually (the chest, the other paintings, the objects on the chest) and are not part of this listing (please inquire if interested).
Please email quatrefoildesign@gmail.com if you have questions or would like detailed pictures.  For more pictures and details on the paintings, please visit 

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Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Details from London

I recently returned from 10 days in London and Paris – first London for my cousin’s wedding (the wedding actually took place in Richmond, a charming borough of London that is right on the Thames), then Paris as a special trip for my middle daughter’s 13th birthday. 

I always love visiting London not only because it is my favorite city, but also because I have been so many times that I feel no real pressure to do all of the tourist activities. Different things catch my eye on each trip, and I particularly enjoy wandering around the neighborhoods in London and taking self guided walking tours.

It has been almost 5 years since my last visit, when I was attending my grandmother’s 90th birthday festivities. I stayed in Belgravia during my last visit, and spent quite a bit of time walking (with a focus on Holland Park, Chelsea, and Kensington). I documented my discoveries in this blog post - http://www.thingsthatinspire.net/2008/07/drive-by-or-walk-by-london.html.  It’s interesting to see what caught my eye 5 years ago– it was before we decided to build a house, and architecture was clearly on my mind (although flowers and planters are also well represented).

My recent trip was busy with family activities, and I was staying in an area of London that was not quite as familiar to me – Marylebone. It is located north of Oxford Street, south of Regents Park, Northeast of Hyde Park.  I wish the weather had been better (it poured many of the days we were there) and I wish I had more time in London – I would have liked to explore the area a bit more!

Looking back at the post from 5 years ago, I noticed that I took a picture of number 15 Wilton Crescent. I had a new iphone at the time, and it is amazing to realize how much better the camera has become on the iphone over the past 5 years.

When composing this post, I realized that I coincidentally took a picture of the same house - it clearly caught my eye again!  The planters are the same, as are the trees (I think they are bay trees – they were by far the most common type of tree in a planter that I saw – does anyone know more about them?).  

A closer view of the planter, flowers, and tree. The purple flower seen in the base of the planter was all over London this year – purple seems to be quite in fashion when it comes to flowers.

Planters seem to catch my eye on this trip. I love the pattern on these planters.

More bay trees, in planters with seasonal flowers planted in the base. I really like this look.

I believe this was outside the Rag and Bone store in Sloane Square. I thought it was a charming look – a black Versailles style planter with a flowering tree and pretty white flowers at the base.

Another set of planters that caught my eye – a great way to incorporate planters into a narrow space.

After my cousin’s wedding, we took the Eurostar over to Paris for a 5 day visit.  The details that caught my eye in Paris will be in the next post (including scenes from my first visit to the famous Paris flea market)!

I know quite a few people heading over the London this summer. Have you ever been?  What catches your eye?  Another thing I noticed, London looks wonderful these days - everything is quite polished and spruced up given that the Olympics and the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee took place in London last summer.

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