Monday, June 21, 2010

Beaune - Les Chambres

Before we start the tour of the fourth and final floor of the house, I wanted to say a word about how the French take guests on a tour of the Maison. The French are very private; this is also why they like shutters so much, especially in urban areas; it keeps prying eyes out. If you get a tour of the house, it is of the public areas: living room, dining room, garden. Don't expect a visit to the private quarters, including the bedroom and bathroom of your host or hostess. Americans tend to take you on the "grand tour" and show you every nook and cranny and wart, and every private area too. Not so in France, or most of Europe, to my experience.

I am a little embarrassed to show you the photos of the final and 4th floor of our house. They are little improved, and they look particularly poor in the photos I have. I remembered why I am photo-challenged; I had saved hundreds of photos on my laptop at the house, until it caught a cold from Skype in Asia, and finally succumbed into a non-responsive state. Since then, I bring an 8 gig photo chip on each trip, and bring the pics back to the US with me. OK anyway, here we go:

When you go up the final set of stairs, there is a small corridor and you enter the master or grande chambre; the door to the room is to the far right in this photo below. The walls are papered in something 70's. This photo is really old; I don't have the duvet cover on here so this was probably when I was doing pre-departure laundry. The bed is two twins combined, for reasons to be explained later; the little closet is there on the right.
Opposite the bed, there is the entrance to the bath, with a window on the right; the room is heavily beamed; these are all original; there are no nails in any of this wood; this is the real deal ancient woodwork. This is the only TV in the house, and it gets 5 French channels, and we get a TV Tax every year on it. Welcome to Europe. TV is not a priority in this house; you can read, cook, engage in conversation, listen to music, drink wine, play board games, go for a walk, or shop, instead of watching TV. We do have internet access, and so the TV is of little use to guests. Behind the TV is a writing desk, which I keep moving around the house. The little homme debout holds shirts and the like; I want a pair of chairs in front of the window; this is the only window to the room, and sometimes it's nice to have it open, so I'm leaning towards a pair of tufted Mis en Demeure chairs. The space is not bad in the room though it's hard to tell from this pic. The carpet is 70's brown low carpeting. More on that later.
Both bedrooms have bathrooms en suite with a WC; this one has a simple blue Laura Ashley stripe and mirrored vanity. Opposite is the tub; the sinks in the house all match:
The tub is white with coordinating Laura Ashley blue floral tiles interspersed. I would have free-standing tubs with large linen drape surrounds here, in my dreams:

Next door, you have the petite chambre; I got these antique painted panels locally, which are pretty though one is a little bowed. But now I am feeling so over them; they are going! R bought this bed locally by himself and I wish he had not bought that headboard. I'd do a small polonaise bedcrown here now;
Opposite the bed is a small window with lovely garden view; a demi lune 18thC table sits in front; I love this little table....
Another view of the room; the same heavy no-nail beams, and a little painting R found. No place yet for guests to put their stuff so it's on the floor and chairs here, though there is also a small closet. I told you it wasn't pretty!
OK so let's move on to Dream/Pretty. While Paris might like Trendy, Burgundy is about Tradition. The classics do well here; no one goes too bold or crazy; Farrow & Ball is beloved, and it's the only paint sold in town, unless you go to Monsieur Bricolage, which is our Home Depot equivalent. There are two decor stores in town for things like wallpaper; one of them has all of the books from Mis En Demeure Paris, whose website is HERE. Click on the Catalogue button to see the merchandise. This is probably my favorite store in the whole wide world; I'm trying to think of anything better... This store makes you want it all. I stopped by every week for years at the shop in Paris and it never failed to impress me, from scented candles (best in Paris) to smalls and tabletop, glassware, porcelain & faience, silver plate gifts and every kind of furniture. Versus seagrass and linen, Mis en Demeure tends towards generous carpets over parquet flooring and delicious accessories; most everything is neutral and muted in tones of parchment and Trianon Blue and grey, though they also have very pretty quilts and things in provencal colors and patterns. Clockfaces to die for. It's not a store you take photos in, but I had to sneak this shot on a recent visit:
My idea for the two bedrooms is classic Braquenie, now part of Pierre Frey. I have a book of all their classic patterns installed in homes that is a great inspiration; it's not a look I would do in the US but it is perfect in Burgundy. This shot is from their website; fabric-lined walls, a chair to match, a Polonaise bedcrown perhaps, and you're done. I would keep the beds all white:
This image via Cote de Texas; love the look but not the pattern:
And this, from Braquenie's site; I notice their trim and furniture are painted out grey, and the beds are often placed lengthwise against the wall:
And Cote de Texas:
the Marquise is my fav:
And les Indiennes, maybe for the petite chambre:
In Europe we have unique house issues; like small curved stairwells that can not fit more than a full size mattress. The windows on the top floor are very small so nothing is coming in that way. We are so lucky here in the States that things like going out and buying a bed are easy: shopping for it is easy, it gets delivered, it fits through the door frame. Not so in France. This is me arriving with a queen size on top of the car (for the new bedroom on the ground floor) from the mattress store near Dijon. That's our modest front door at left. This was after we spent 3 hours at Ikea Dijon and they could not locate the bed we selected after it was paid for. R had to get back to work, so I took him home then went to source the bed at a store near Dijon; and drove back on the "little road" as it was getting dark, driving very slowly as my load was tied on with just a little twine. "You'll be fine, don't worry," the salesman said as he waved goodbye. At least he helped me get it on top of the car. It's all an adventure!
Anyway, as the stairwell to the top floor is so small and curved, there is just a full size bed in the petite bedroom, and two twins put together to make a queen size bed in the grande bedroom. It's great in France that most pieces of furniture disassemble, especially anything antique like the blue biblio. This way we can get furniture through narrow spaces. But things like matresses and bathtubs present a different problem. I would love to have a free-standing tub with a showerhead and a heavy linen drape curtain surround in the bathrooms. But I'd have to measure and see if a tub would fit up the curve in the stairs; not to mention how many men it would take to haul a real tub up 4 flights of stairs. The thought gives me a headache; walls or railings or stairs might get damaged. So while I would love to replace what is there now, I wonder if I might just retile and do a new surround and let it be.

For the flooring; R and I both want to replace that brown carpet; I went to a flooring store just outside of town and they don't even stock seagrass, which is called jonc de mer. The salesman recommended the exact same style carpet that is there now; this must be what is used locally for en suite bed & bath. So then R and I went to a DIY store on the road to Lyon, which had 3 kinds of seagrass. But R didn't like it and so we tabled the issue. I have a concern though, as the carpet now covers the bedrooms and the bathrooms; I don't think that seagrass is a great choice for the bath and WC because of humidity, unless you put a bunch of little carpets down.

All issues to be sorted out on a later trip. Hope you enjoyed the tour....


  1. I so enjoyed the tour. From the nail-less beams to the painted panels. Your loggia in your previous post & how you hung the beautiful citrus hued lanterns was so lovely. It was grand to be whisked away from my daily doldrums if only just for a wee bit. Thank you so much for the diversion.

    Take much care x

  2. Oh there is so much goodness! I adore all of your ideas.

    I have been trying to send a few emails but they keep coming back saying that your in box is too full. ???

  3. Oooooh I want a little Paris apartment to runaway to!!!
    In the meanwhile... come visit... I painted another basket of yours with Decor to Adore for inspiration...

  4. How wonderful to have this very special abode! The design ideas are perfect! Those beams are very unique!

    Art by Karena