Miles of Aisles in the Light of a Paris Winter
The white stuff is coming down almost sans cesse (non-stop) in the City of Light making the perpetual gray skies whiter than usual and the light almost demanding of sun glasses. Snow is predicted for almost every day this week and the city dwellers and maintenance crews don’t know how to handle the thick wet flakes turning the streets to slush. Buses aren’t running well and Métro lines are sometimes suffering. Taxis are booked up and taking big risks as they slide around hoping not to hit anything or anyone.
It’s time to get out your ice skates…but, it’s downright beautiful and unbelievably QUIET. That’s the most amazing part. Cars are off the roads, people are in their apartments and it’s like being in the middle of the woods. How weird is that? No complaints! It’s a Paris we don’t often experience.
Tom Marquardt (principal and founder) and Vince Gammino (associate designer and projectmanager) of Marquardt+, an architectural design firm in Chicago with over 25 years of what they call “interdisciplinary design” or “collaborative design,” came to Paris for the semi-annual Maison & Objet Trade Fair. They found the snow outside “Le Provençal” apartment where they are staying thicker than what they’ve seen in Chicago so far this year. Even the snow on the table tops of Café Charlot looked inviting to those who made snow balls out of the mounds of icy flakes.
The snow did not deter the hoards of attendees at the Maison & Objet Trade Fair to walk through the miles of aisles of home furnishings stands in nine different halls. At least once a year, Interior Designer, Martine di Mattéo, and I do just that — perusing the furnishings on the lookout for current and upcoming apartment projects.
The fair is always an overwhelming experience — a bombardment of beautiful objects — what I call “eye-candy,” that gets our juices flowing for our home-sweet-homes. While we did not take a ‘count,’ the numbers of candle manufacturers and sellers outnumbered any other category of item. Even in stands that were primarily of some other objects, such as gardening pots or knick-knacks, the numbers of candles on offering was acute compared to anything else.
It was natural to wonder who in the world buys so many candles and why!? While they may smell great and create a romantic atmosphere, the fear and risk of fire prevents us from allowing their use in any of our rental apartments…”bien sûr!” The National Candle Association claims that in the U.S. alone, retail sales of candles amount to approximately $2 billion annually, excluding candle accessories, and that candles are used in seven out of 10 U.S. households. Women are the purchasers (90%) and a candle can be as expensive as $200. Count me out.
Tom Marquardt invited us to attend the Third Annual IIDA Global Excellence Awards Ceremony held at the Business Lounge in Hall 5B on Saturday afternoon. Many of the winners were in attendance, coming from as far away as Hong Kong, Beijing, Toronto, Washington, DC, Melbourne, Tokyo, Shanghai, Santa Monica and as nearby as Amsterdam to accept their awards and celebrate with champagne. For a glimpse of the winning projects, visit iida.org/content.cfm.
In Hall 7, a long walk through all the glorious aisles, Martine and I found “artiste extraordinaire” Pascal Amblard in his stand. Pascal is the master of painted murals, “trompe l’oeil,” painted ceilings, furniture and ornaments. You may recognize his beautiful work in many of our Parler Paris Apartments, such as Le Palace des Vosges, La Paris Plage, Le Bien Illuminé and many, many others.
Maison & Objet ends tomorrow — and that can be a good time to purchase individual pieces from the stands — ‘after show bargains.’ Either way, the trade fair is like nothing else you have ever experienced, so be prepared to have sensory overload within moments of entering any one of the nine halls.
Tom Marquardt and I coincidentally have many friends in common, but we met years ago via the illustrious Laurent Queige of the Office de Tourisme of the Mairie de Paris (City Hall). Laurent has just been given the ‘green light’ by Mayor Bertrand Delanoë to create the world’s first “tourism incubator” beginning at the end of this year in a 1000 square-meter space on rue de Rennes (number 76) in the 6th arrondissement. The object is to stimulate innovation within the tourism industry and support new start-ups and great ideas. Our hats off to Laurent who is thinking way ahead of the rest of us.
One of Laurent’s favorite ‘hang outs’ is Rosa Bonheur, a guinguette (bar, bistrot, lounge) in the Parc des Buttes Chaumont. Sunday night we trekked down the snow-covered path in the park, lit by a string of lights in a wavy pattern, to arrive at the building, then had to snake our way through the masses of dancing, drinking people to score a table where we could ‘sometimes’ hear each other talk! The scene there is a mass of young people of all persuasions who clearly were not deterred by the snow.
Before heading home, Laurent discovered cardboard boxes near the trash cans, broke them open to create make-shift sleds. While Vince and I laughed till we cried, Tom and Laurent went down the slopes in the Parc des Buttes Chaumont on their bottoms landing not so softly in the trees at the bottom — behaving more like six year-olds than the decades of their true years.
It was the ‘landing’ to a very memorable Parisian weekend in the light of winter.
A la prochaine…
Director of The Adrian Leeds Group, LLC
(with Vince Gammino and Martine di Mattéo at Maison & Objet IIDA Global Excellence Awards Ceremony)
P.S. Le Carnaval de Nice (nicecarnaval.com), from February 15 to March 6, is one of my favorite events of the year! Sadly, I can’t attend this year, and that means the sunny “Le Matisse” luxury pied-à-terre in the heart of the Carré d’Or is available! If you’ve ever wanted to go to this fun and colorful festival, book your stay now…and let the party begin! To learn more, visit Parler Nice Apartments or email [email protected]