It has been a while between posts … When I’ve not been dreaming about Paris, I’ve been trying to keep my mind off the fact that we can still only get to Paris in our dreams by doing what we’ve all been doing. Baking. Reading. And focussing on home renovations.
Not that we’ve been doing anything too major on the home front, more tweaks here and there to freshen up (and Frenchify!) things.
Because a change is as good as a holiday, apparently.
And seeing as we’ve not been able to do much serious holidaying of late, those little home imperfections (thinning carpets, yellowing walls, fraying curtains) have become all too obvious during all of the sheltering in place.
So, I’ve been trying to bring the city to me, sprinkling little Paris-pired touches throughout our home.
Of course, depending on where you actually live (not where your head and heart reside, mind you, but your body), you might only able to do so much. Our place is by the beach, so going for high-voltage Versailles-style glamour would look as crazy as trying to walk on the sand in glitzy gem-encrusted heels.
Still, I have found some ways to make home feel more Parisian. While I wait to get back to my spiritual home, that is …
Un Peu de Shabby Chic
In our dreams, we’re pottering about the stalls of the Clignancourt fleamarkets (pictured above), oohing and ahhing over crystal candelabra and vintage enamel street numbers. In reality: at least there’s always a jumble sale or antique store not too far away. Whether you chance upon a whimsical folding screen for your bedroom or a gilt-trimmed velvet chaise for your lounge, a bronze bust of a rococo Parisienne for your chimneypiece or a weathered statue of Cupid for the balcony, such an olde-worlde folly will add a fabulous spark of joie to your home.
Take a Seat
As you’re trawling the markets, you might well happen upon a traditional French rattan chair — few pieces of furniture are as quintessentially Parisian as this, a staple of the city’s eateries since Baron Haussmann made over Paris into a capital of wide boulevards, their footpaths spilling over with café terraces from to see and be seen. Failing that, it’s easy enough to find a replica. Pop your rattan chair in a corner, ideally by a little marble-topped table set with a bowl of café au lait and plate of croissants.
Paris on a Platter
Speaking of plates … everything tastes so much more Parisian if it’s eaten from white porcelain, n’est-ce pas?! Take your crockery inspiration from the beloved Rue Saint-Honoré chinaware store Astier de Villatte (pictured above). And for the cutlery: well, how could you spread your beurre or scoop your soufflé with anything but Laguiole?!
Smells like Paris
It’s all well and lovely to surround yourself with Parisian prettiness, but don’t underestimate the power of smell as much as sight when it comes to Paris-fying your home. Candles, like those from Diptyque and Kerzon (pictured above), always enhance a Parisian air beautifully.
But think, also, about the foods and drinks you love to consume when in Paris, and how you can replicate those aromas chez vous. I love taking tea and nibbling madeleines at Mariage Frères (above) and so, back home, when I treat myself to their Milky Blue brew, or bake some lemony seashell-shaped tea cakes, I’m sensorially right back in that gorgeous Marais tea salon.
Don’t forget, too, the aromatically therapeutic (and, of course, aesthetically therapeutic) wonders of fresh market-bought blooms. Especially when it’s peony season.
The Greenhouse Effect
Paris went crazy for winter gardens back in the Belle Époque, and there’s still something so à la parisienne about filling one’s home, or even just a dedicated room, with hothouse plants. For inspiration, see the Jardin d’Hiver of the Musée Jacquemart-André (pictured above), or watch the lushly styled Chéri, the film adaptation of Colette’s novel, starring Michelle Pfeiffer.
The other kind of Parisian greenery is the literal kind: specifically soft shades such as pretty pistachio (think Ladurée) or eau-de-nil (case in point: the dreamy rooms of the Musée Rodin). Either add splashes of mint inside — a wall here, an entry there — or colour-block your front door, for a grand entrance of the kind Parisian buildings love to make.
Window on Paris
We might not all have views overlooking Parisian rooftops, or even a lacy wrought-iron balcony to sigh over, but the Paris-style window box can be anyone’s. Plant the ‘Roi des Balcons’ variety of geranium for the best cascading, colourful effect.
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I’m home for a while and of course would live to see you! Mary Z