Paris mornings

8 September 2014
Ben Pentreath

It’s that Paris time of year. It’s always a little crazy, just when you’ve got home from your holidays, to find yourself jumping on a train again, and this year more than most, I would have been so ready to stay in England and do nothing at all.

It would be equally true to say that most of all Bridie and I love working with the small, hidden makers, the ones that the big retailers are too big to either find or to work with.  But while all of this is true, I have to admit that in our world, you can’t quite avoid the big trade shows. Or at least if you do… you are left with a nagging feeling that you’re going to be missing a trick here or there.

A couple of years ago I blogged about the delights (or not, depending on your point of view) of ‘Maison & Objet’, the giant twice-yearly trade show in Paris to which the entire retail world of Europe flocks. It can be absolutely grim. I really am not sure I’d recommend it. This year was no different. The aisles of fake Christmas Trees, the dancing life-size Polar bears, or the many “I’M ABOUT TO DECORATE A SUPERYACHT FOR RUSSIANS” aisles…  One day, I’ll take photos of all this. It is a spectacle.

But in amongst it, old friends and new discoveries. We placed our orders for kelim furniture and found beautiful new embroidered cushions. We saw some of our suppliers of mercury glass and decorative china. And we found some beautiful new traditional danish cane furniture that will be in store soon.  We touched base with our friends John Derian and Astier de Villatte, at their brilliant pop up shop on Rue de Richelieu.  A good show.

On Sunday morning, Bridie and I both woke up early having not slept very well. Was our delicious, but, how can I say, heavy? dinner the evening before, with Maggie, at Le Cinq Mars, responsible? Possibly.  We are all on a diet of cucumber, lettuce leaves and mineral water for a month.

We had an early breakfast and watched the waking world go by.  We debated returning to the Parc des Expositions. But while we were having a lovely walk in the Luxembourg gardens the sun broke through the morning haze. Maison could wait another year. A morning doing nothing in Paris won.


I had just been taking a photo of this beautiful house when from the ground floor shuttered window, a window was opened and the sound of perfect 80s disco music (complete with clapping) came blaring out. Nice party going. 8.45am on Sunday morning.P1050432

(The things photographs can’t tell you).P1050433 P1050434

Regular readers will know that I am obsessed with the Didot foundry sign on Rue Jacob (or is it Rue de l’Université?):P1050435

Who wouldn’t want to be this little girl:P1050442

Or frankly, this happy pavement washing team?:P1050445 P1050446 P1050448 P1050449

Dear Zoe if the shops had been open this would have been your present from Paris:P1050450 P1050451

It’s a while since I’ve crossed the Pont des Arts. Bridie and I were fascinated and repulsed by the millions of padlocks that have been attached to the railings (which are now in danger of collapse, as you can read here):P1050453 P1050454

We wondered what love tryst decided it would be best symbolised by being padlocked to the bin frame?P1050455 P1050458

We were reminded of the 1000s of bunches of rotting flowers in cellophane bags outside Kensington Palace in 1997.P1050462

It was a relief to cross in to the courtyard of the Louvre.P1050465 P1050466 P1050467 P1050469

We love people propping up the pyramid.P1050475 P1050476 P1050477 P1050479

At 10am the crowds were insane. I think they should have a queue for the Mona Lisa viewers and another for the rest of us.P1050480 P1050481 P1050484

For a second I missed the garden in Dorset… dahlia time:P1050489 P1050490 P1050492 P1050497 P1050498

We called in to the Orangerie, one of my favourite galleries in Paris (and as it turns out, free on the first Sunday of the month):P1050499

Where we loved this André Derain Harlequin.  I feel a Harlequin moment coming on at Pentreath & Hall.  (Luke, get ready for a Harlequin suit?).P1050500

Looking at the paintings of the post impressionists, I’m fascinated that however revolutionary the image – they loved an old gold frame.P1050503

Crossing into the Place de la Concorde we were fascinated by the diagrams on the base of the great Egyptian obelisk showing how it had been raised in 1832.P1050508 P1050510
P1050512 We loved the boxing class:
P1050517 P1050519

And we obsessed about this shop sign for a bookbinder:

P1050526 P1050525 P1050531 P1050533

Our favourite shop front in the whole of Paris:P1050535

behind which is this dream interior:
P1050536 P1050537 P1050540

Rounding a corner we found the beautiful Café la Palette. We stopped for a coffee. And ended up staying for a long lazy lunch.


We made friends with the youngest waiter:P1050542

Meanwhile there was quite a nice line in yellow trousers and green sneakers going on.P1050546

And meanwhile, the perfect Parisian interior. P1050549

And suddenly it was time to leave and rush away. I won’t go into details but we had a bit of a train crisis. That’s what happens when you linger too long.  But It’s Monday morning. A beautiful autumn sun is rising over Queen Square.  Paris seems another world away. And it’s great to be home.



9 comments on this post

I live near Paris and work there most days. Thank you for reminding me why I love this city so much.

Thank you for the Parisian interlude, Ben. I celebrated the Millennium there, but have not been back since. *sigh*
We have the lock thing going on here in Pittsburgh too, on a bridge that more or less joins two university campuses, so at first sight I thought it was some kind of art students’ installation! The Parisian one is certainly no zanier looking than much site-specific art I’ve seen, but too bad it collapsed the bridge railing. Better than graffiti, anyway.

I had the same thought as other readers upon seeing the little girl in the bike basket, but I’ll bet she was enjoying the heck out of it!




Merci mille fois for taking the trouble once more. Loved the Parisian Cheshire cat, the tomato car parked to match the signage, and, um, dunno. Have always found Paris a bit up itself regarding stylishness. Totally agree about the padlocks and the blokes flogging them. I do wish we could wash our pavements, though I suppose the perceived waste of water would be a cause for comment.

Sadly, my strongest memory of Paris is when I skewered an andouillette with my fork and the unexpected contents erupted like some ghastly Vesuvius all over my plate. But that was mitigated shortly afterwards by my first ever stilettos, a cobalt blue pair of kid leather Minnie Mouses bought at Maud Frizon and forever unwalkable-in, but loved nonetheless.

I’m with Steven on the charms and perils of basket-biking, which is a cause for sighs (the sensibleness, not the biking).

Completely fascinated by the Pommade Boncrete which would have been for Zoe. I can’t decide whether she’d have worn it on her hair or painted a concrete floor with it. Could look it up on google, I suppose, but sometimes it’s better just to wonder…

Ah, how I miss Paris! I’ve not visited for three years now, but your photographs took me there instantly, thank you.

Aren’t junior Parisians stylish, but why is that a surprise considering most things about Paris are stylish.

I love the green chairs and planters in the park.


Love everything about this, including the adorable father & daughter duo, but the nanny-state upbringing we’ve all been subjected to causes me to worry about the lack of helmets on both of them, as well as the wisdom of cramming the child in a front basket instead of strapped into a properly engineered child-seat on the back of the bicyclette! Picturesque but perilous!


Afternoon, I am a new adherent to both your company and your blog, this is the second one I have read,the first being your vist and adventures to and from Athens and Patmos,I have found both blogs very interesting,one reason is tis rare you find another person who looks at things in a similar way to yourself,to the point whereby how they see it,which is what you relate to immediately,becomes evermore enchanting ,though your sensibilities are similar as to what you choose to see and feel,the uniqueness of each of us can enhance even that similarity to make the understanding readers experience of it a breath of fresh air.

I lived in Paris for 4 years from age 17 onwards,the first reason I opened your Paris sketch was simply because it was about a visit to Paris, what kept me reading was simply how you write and what you see,also a mention of the Luxembourg Gardens can tell you a lot about the way another person love the city and why.

a bientot



Lovely to have you back. I’m currently in Deauville, France for a weeks holiday but missing Paris so thanks for the photos. The weather is beautiful in France at this time of year. X

It’s good to have you home and blogging, Ben. Lovely images. The interior of Paul Ollivary looks wonderful, at first glance you could be mistaken for thinking that everything is Neo-classical. I quite agree with you on the padlocks, a slightly sinister metaphor for everlasting love. I must return to Paris sometime. Thanks for reminding me why.

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