Antiques Blog

The Eco Friendly Home.

Normally my blogs are light and airy and not about anything truly important. Just a lot of ‘fluff’ about the crazy but loveable French.

Just the other night though I watched the documentary called ‘The Human Experiment’. It’s a film/documentary about toxic chemicals we are exposed to everyday of our lives in North America. I was surprised to learn that new born babies have over 300 chemicals in their umbilical cords rendering them toxic before they’re even born. Did you know that over 77,000 new chemicals have been introduced into our environment since the second World War. I didn’t. No wonder health problems are popping up everywhere with just about everyone I know.

This article is written for one of my favorite clients in mind, Lynne M, whose been plagued by environmental allergies for years. I haven’t seen her in awhile and I’m hoping she’s doing fine.

I think Canadians are much more aware of this problem than our neighbours down south.

I think Canadians are more proactive and aware of this problem than our neighbours down south.

These alarming statistic compelled me to do a bit of digging into products that are used in the making and care of furniture. Both modern and vintage/antique. It’s no surprise that modern furniture and products can actually be making you sick or subject to illness. Obviously I am advocating the purchase of antiques and I’ll use any excuse I can. But seriously, new furniture is dangerously high in off gassing and may be the reasons so many allergies and more serious diseases are on the uptake.

With all the slick, mod, “eco” brands jumping into the market it can be hard to keep in mind that Antiques can be the most green purchase of all. Antique and vintage furniture requires no additional resources to manufacture, is often locally sourced (cutting down on transportation), is pre-offgassed and eases the load on the landfill. Quality antique and vintage furniture can also have excellent resale value (sometimes selling for the same price it was bought) which certainly can’t be said for most new furniture, green or otherwise.

Particle board and plywood (commonly found in new furniture)

Judging by words of the American Chemistry Council, Formaldehyde is a natural part of our world. And it is, in small doses. Unfortunately, it is part of the glue that holds particle board together, the stuff our houses and furniture is made of. It is a recognized carcinogen and causes eye and nose irritation and possibly more.

The best way to avoid formaldehyde is to buy used, whether it is an older home where it has had the time to off-gas, or furniture that has stood the test of time. Or, buy solid wood furniture instead of particle board.

imgres
Here’s a story from a woman named Heather Chandler who bought a new couch and wrote a blog about her experience.

Heather Chandler's story is compelling evidence on the toxicity of new furniture.

Heather Chandler’s story is compelling evidence on the toxicity of new furniture.

“The couch arrived a week before Christmas and within a couple of days I started to notice that my eyes and throat were burning when I sat on it for any length of time. I thought maybe it was just an initial off gassing, since it was brand new and that it would quickly pass. Simultaneously, I started noticing that I felt a bit spacey and even seemed to have trouble jumbling my words just a bit. I wanted to dismiss it as unrelated.

While I hoped the smell would quickly pass, I started researching online. Reading from others’ experiences, it seemed likely that I was reacting to either formaldehyde in a plywood or some other chemical VOCs from the foam, the flame retardants, glues or dyes in the fabric. I wanted it to all work out and reasoned that it couldn’t off gas for long, right? Aside from this, I was embarrassed. I felt like I should have known better.

Five days in, I called the company I bought the couch from to ask them about the smell. I was referred to the owner who assured me that he’d never received a complaint like that about the sofa and that they “sold a lot of them.” He was sure that it would go away and that I was probably more sensitive than most people. I asked him about the frame and he confirmed that there was plywood in the frame. I was frustrated that I’d been given incorrect information from the salesperson, but I decided to give it a little more time. I figured two weeks was a good benchmark. If in two weeks time, the smell was still as strong I would need to consider alternatives to keeping the couch.

In the meantime, I opened the windows to flush out the air every couple of days and borrowed an air purifier from a friend, hoping that would do the trick. Unfortunately, it didn’t. Each time that I sat on the couch for any length of time, I’d have the same reaction – red, burning eyes and throat. Whenever I walked into the living room, either first thing in the morning or when I’d come home I’d be overcome by what seemed like a noxious cloud.

I continued to research online and read things like “the chemicals found on couches are associated with neurological and reproductive problems, as well as cancer” and that according to a recent 2012 study that found that “chemicals made up roughly 10 percent of the weight of the entire cushion” on some couches. An article from the San Francisco Chronicle was helpful and alerted me to other possible chemicals in upholstered furniture including “Ethylene oxide, used in polyurethane foam and adhesives, a probable carcinogen that can also cause brain and nerve malfunctions.” Maybe my spaciness was not so unrelated after all.

I read further. “Hydrazine, a chemical used in textile dyes, is a probable carcinogen with a range of adverse health effects, and vinyl chloride, used in the making of some furniture, is a carcinogen that can cause liver damage with chronic exposure.” I also read that even for those without immediate violent reactions, there can be long-term effects, such as respiratory and heart ailments and cancer.

chemical-safety-34-638
I’d read enough to be scared and take seriously the potential impact that my new couch might be having on my body. But what were my options. I’d spent a lot of money on this couch and had no reason to believe I’d be able to get my money back.

I consulted some friends and local experts including Lora Winslow, founder of the Naked Truth Project–a nonprofit that serves as a resource for nontoxic living and educating people about the links between human health and what we put on our bodies, in our bodies and in our homes–and Amanda Sears, Associate Director of the Environmental Health Strategy Center. Lora explained that toxins in the body accumulate and we never know what the exact tipping point is when the body says, “Enough” and responds by developing acute sensitivity to all chemicals.

Amanda and I talked about the prevalence and health risks associated with flame retardants, the usage of which has grown significantly over the past 30 years. I found two recent studies which identified the flame retardant, “Tris,” a suspected human carcinogen (banned for use in baby pajamas in the 1970s), as the most prevalent compound in couches tested (found in 41 – 52 % of them). Concentrations of the flame retardant chemicals in couches averaged 4 to 5 percent by weight, but some couches had over 11 percent. According to one of the studies, there are at least six different mixtures being used as flame retardants in furniture today. And the scientist went on to say that we know less about the health effects of these flame retardants than we do about previously-banned retardants. I’ll repeat that because it’s a lot of info to digest – we are using large amounts of chemicals in couches today that were banned for use in children’s clothing 40 years ago. Further, other chemicals that are being used have not even been fully tested to determine their effects on humans, adult or children.

imgres-1
**Important side note: flame retardants do not stay in the cushions. Over time, they break down and off-gas into the air, settling as dust on flat surfaces or the floor, providing one of the major routes of exposure to people

What scares me the most about all of this is that no one seems to have concrete evidence of the long term effects of exposure like this. But given what we do know, there’s good reason to be take it all very seriously.

I called the company I purchased the couch from and made arrangements for them to return the couch (minus a $100 restocking fee.)”

Could your new modern furniture making you sick?

Could your new modern furniture making you sick?

After all of this, why on earth would ever consider buying anything new. Even that ‘new car’ smell that people love to comment on is full of toxic chemicals including flame retardants. So what’s the answer? Do your research, buy as organically as you can, and consider vintage and antique furniture, cars, and constructed environmentally friendly houses and furniture as a part of your move to an eco-friendly living environment.

Created with less-toxic products years ago, antiques have long since completed any chemical off-gassing, maintaining your home’s indoor air quality. By restoring and repairing fine furniture, the resource-intensive cycle of endless new production is slowed, as is the fossil-fuel based packaging and delivery system. Beautiful and sturdy, wood pieces made before the 21st Century were constructed with timber with tighter growth rings, which simply doesn’t exist today, enhancing its value as a treasured collectible.

This cabinet made around 1700 has had plenty of time to off-gass...about 300 years!

This cabinet made around 1700 has had plenty of time to off-gass…about 300 years!

Many antiques were either French polished (using a non toxic shellac) or oil and wax. The oils we use are non toxic as are our waxes. We love a product called ‘Rustic Touch‘ made from Melaleuca oil. It cleans, waxes and shines better than most products out there and it’s available in an easy spray pump applicator. It leaves the most wonderful smell too.

RusticTouch
Shellac, the basic product in a French polish are resins come from the Coccus Lacca bug, indigenous to Thailand and India, and are actually the insect’s resinous secretions. Ironically, for a finish that has such as dubious start in life, Shellac has many applications in today’s world. The resin provides a non-toxic, thermoplastic coating that is approved by the food and drug industries as a coating on fruits (where the resin prevents molds and spores) and drugs (where it acts as a slow release enteric coating on many of today’s medicines. The Shellac has excellent adhesive properties and can be polished to a high gloss or rubbed out to a satin or flat sheen as desired. A shellac finish has been used by woodworkers since the early 1800’s. It has many advantages: shellac is non-toxic, can be used as a sealer before applying a stain (to even out the stain’s application), can be mixed with nearly any color, and is very easy to repair in the event of damage from use.

WHY IT MATTERS
Although we spend 80-90% of our lives indoors, there have been more than 77,000 chemicals introduced into the environment since World War II, many of them present in furniture, carpeting and building materials. Luckily, there are healthy substitutes available. It is possible to create homes that are pristine sanctuaries from the toxins that surround us, with pure air, pure water and beautiful interiors.

Creating a “green” house respects the health and well-being of everyone involved in its creation, and everyone who calls it home.

GREEN RESOURCES

Green Products & Materials

I’ve compiled this list to help you create a healthy home, with products and materials that have worked well for me. Consider gradually incorporating some of these products as you renovate and update. The industry is adding better non-toxic alternatives all the time, so please check my blog frequently for updates.

Two excellent books I suggest as references:

Green Building Products, The GreenSpec Guide to Residential Building Materials, (choose the latest edition), Brattleboro VT: Building Green. Click here for the website.

LEED Materials, a resource guide to Green Building by Ari Meisel, (based on the LEED Rating System Version 3 soon to be updated to Version 4), New York, NY, Princeton Architectural Press

I also suggest keeping a binder of Material Safety Data Sheets (MSDS) for every product you use in your home. An MSDS is a fact sheet prepared by the manufacturer that outlines known health effects, proper handling and recommended storage of the material.

Adhesives and Caulking-

Solvent-based adhesives can be a hidden source of VOCs. Consider using these products:
Gorilla Glue Original Formula
www.gorillatough.com

Grout Match Caulking
www.earthmasterproducts.com

100_1723_crop_gm1_fan_tube

Air Filter
Improving indoor air quality with an air filter is one of the “greenest” decisions you can make. Fumes are emitted from many conventional home products, including carpets, plywood, paints and finishes. In a tightly insulated home, the Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs) build up over time, creating a mixture of toxins.

Austin Health Mate Plus
The Health Mate Plus uses solid activated carbon and zeolite impregnated with potassium iodide to remove VOCs, particles in the air including dust, pollen and pet dander, and viruses and bacteria.
www.austinair.com

austin-air-pet-machine-air-purifier-white
Bedding
As you sleep, your liver works to detox the body from all the pollutants and toxins you were exposed to during the day. Conventional cotton comes from fields that are drenched in pesticides, so choosing organic bedding is a simple way to promote health.

Coyuchi
Made with 100% organic cotton, their sheets, blankets, pillows, duvet covers, shams and more are all made with natural fibers, using a nontoxic process. They are certified to the Global Organic Textile Standard (GOTS), produced using fairlabor practices. www.coyuchi.com

Mineral Spring Bedding by Coyuchi. Doesn't get more earthy than that.

Mineral Spring Bedding by Coyuchi. Doesn’t get more earthy than that.

Carpet
As many as 120 separate chemicals may be present in carpet, found in dyes, backing, fire retardants and stain resistant treatments. Once wet, microbial growth and mold can quickly become a problem. Offgassing may continue for years after installation, and used carpet is neither recyclable nor biodegradable, all good reasons to consider alternatives.

Earth Weave
Earth Weave produces all natural, non-toxic carpet, area rugs and padding. Products are made using undyed, untreated wool on the face, along with hemp, cotton, jute and natural rubber for the backing materials. Yarns are locked into place with a natural adhesive derived from the Rubber tree. www.earthweave.com

Earth Weave Carpet Construction

Elizabeth Eakins
Elizabeth Eakins produces all natural fiber rugs and fabrics with environmentally friendly dyes. The company has an ethos of sustainability, with worker safety a priority.
www.elizabetheakins.com

Elizabeth Eakins and Bryan Dicker of Holland Sherry.

Elizabeth Eakins and Bryan Dicker of Holland Sherry.

Rugmark
Rugmark is a non-profit watchdog group formed by trade unions, human rights organizations and consumer groups to stop the use of child labor in rug factories around the world. Look for the Rugmark-certified label on all imported rugs.

The rugmark label insures no child labor was involved in the manufacture of these goods.

The rugmark label insures no child labor was involved in the manufacture of these goods.

Cleaning Products
Synthetic fragrances are used to mask the odor of petrochemicals in commercial cleaning products, actually polluting your indoor air with a toxic mix of VOCs. Some of the chemicals are suspected carcinogens or hormonal disruptors. Before World War II, most homemakers made their own cleaning supplies from simple kitchen items, or you can try one of these:

Seventh Generation Unscented
Plant-derived solutions with no dyes and no synthetic fragrances. www.seventhgeneration.com

seventh-generation
Allen’s Naturally
Provides home care products free of dyes, perfumes and fragrances. The company has also been commended by animal rights groups for not testing on animals or using animal-derived ingredients.
www.allensnaturally.com

allens
Fabric
Harmful chemicals and toxic dyes are, unfortunately, part of the manufacturing process for traditional fabrics. Not only are their residues present in the fabric in your home, but manufacturing creates pollutants that harm both factory workers and the earth. A number of companies now offer “green” fabrics.

Designtex
Design Tex has made a commitment to operate as a carbon neutral company, and all their products can be recycled. The company worked with architect William McDonough and chemist Michael Braungart to create a fabric capable of breaking down and returning safely to the earth. www.designtex.com

Design Tex showroom.

Design Tex showroom.

Kravet Green
The Kravet Green collection is made of 100% recycled polyester, which is a unique blend of post-industrial and post-consumer fibers woven and treated with no additional chemicals. During the finishing process, they use water-based products and environmentally approved dyes. After years of use, these fabrics are recyclable. www.kravet.com

Love the Louis XVI chairs.

Love the Louis XVI chairs.

Maharam
Maharam produces fabrics with a reduced environmental impact, and minimizes the use of chemicals that could be harmful to human health. Their natural fibers are obtained from animal or plant sources such as cotton, linen, hemp, jute, wool, silk, and cellulose, which can be replenished in less than three years.
www.maharam.com

Maharam was started at the beginning of the 1900's.

Maharam was started at the beginning of the 1900’s.

Formaldehyde Free Glued-up woods
Composite, pressed woods such as plywood and particleboard can offgas formaldehyde, introduced by the adhesives used in processing. Consider these alternatives:

Medite 3D Medium Density Fiberboard
www.sierrapine.com

Purebond Plywood
Soy-based hardwood plywood
www.columbiaforestproducts.com

Flooring
Sustainable flooring can be made from a number of materials, including bamboo, cork, ceramic tile or stone. If it’s a wood-based product, look for certification from the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC), which promotes environmentally sound management of the world’s forests. www.us.fsc.org

Floor Finishes
Floor finishes can contain hazardous chemicals, such as formaldehyde, petroleum distillates and mineral spirits. Many are combustible, and some contain neurotoxins.

Basic Coatings, StreetShoe
Basic Coatings offers safer products that allow you to prepare and finish wood floors with Low VOC, NMP-free and low impact green products. StreetShoe is one I’ve used, but they’ve since added others to their line. www.basiccoatings.com

Green Seal
An independent nonprofit group that certifies products that voluntarily comply with rigorous standards and testing, promoting the manufacture, purchase, and use of environmentally responsible products and services. www.greenseal.org

imgres

HVAC
Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning (HVAC) systems release tons of CO2 into the air annually, making buildings one of the largest contributors to climate change. Heating and cooling methods can be a major cause of fatigue, dizziness, headaches and bronchial irritation if they aren’t properly installed and maintained.

Heat Recovery Ventilation by Honeywell
Exchanges interior air with outside air several times an hour, then filters and conditions it, recovering up to 80% of the heating and cooling energy. This lowers VOCs which build up in tightly insulated buildings. www.honeywell.com

Heat recovery ventilator by Honeywell.

Heat recovery ventilator by Honeywell.

Aprilaire Filtration Systems
Aprilaire is well known for their high-efficiency, whole house air cleaners built into the HVAC unit that remove germs, bacteria, dust and VOCs such as formaldehyde. www.aprilaire.com

The April Air whole home filtration system.

The April Air whole home filtration system.

Steam-injected Resdelux Humidification System by Nortec
A humidification system should keep your home between 40% and 60% humidity, but I prefer closer to 40% to discourage mold growth. The Nortec steam-injected system distributes clean steam, precisely controlled, uniformly into the air stream, void of any condensate spray, and avoids contaminated standing water. www.humidity.com

I have a humidifier going all winter to prevent dry itchy 'winter' skin.

I have a humidifier going all winter to prevent dry itchy ‘winter’ skin.

Duct Work
Clean ducts once a year without the use of chemicals; children are particularly vulnerable to airborne particulates. Industrial strength hydrogen peroxide is safe to use if there is microbial growth, and will not contaminate the system.

Mattress

Your healthiest option is an organic mattress, made with natural latex, wool or organic cotton. Be sure your pillows are all natural as well. Non-organic cotton is grown in fields soaked in insecticides; dyes and color fixers use heavy metals such aschromium, copper and zinc, and end up as waste in rivers and soil. You can request “no fire-retardant chemicals” be used on your mattress; this requires a prescription from a doctor.

Soma Sleep Store. The prices for the mattresses in this store are actually less than some of the name brands you’ll find in a mattress speciality store. You can go for a Hastens and pay up to $60,000 but are they really worth the money??

My Essentia is a Vancouver based store that’s probably worth checking out too.

This particular bed is from the organic mattress store based out of the U.S.

This particular bed is from the organic mattress store based out of the U.S.

Paint
That “just painted” smell is actually the offgassing of toxic chemicals into your indoor air, including benzene, formaldehyde, toluene and xylene, all of which are carcinogens or neurotoxins.

Benjamin Moore Natura
Natura Paint is a zero VOC product that is easy to find, although it may contain biocides and mildewcides that can affect people with Multiple Chemical Sensitivity, or allergies. www.benjaminmoore.com

No dangerous off gassing with this paint.

No dangerous off gassing with this paint.

Eco Water Systems.

We all know that tap water is full of chemicals including chlorine. While our water may be better than many other urban centers we still need to filter it. Here is an excerpt discussing the water safety of our metro Vancouver water.

Metro Vancouver’s SOURCE water is enviably good because it is supplied from mountain reservoirs located upstream from local industrial, agricultural and human effluent. Nature should get the credit for this. Our water treatment plants then process this ‘raw’ water to remove sediment and to make it ‘micro-biologically safe’. UV, ozone and chlorine are used to inactivate micro-organisms present in the source water that could be dangerous to human health. Chlorine is good at killing stuff. It does not distinguish between the bad organisms in water and the good organisms inside you. Chlorine also combines with organic substances to form chlorination by-products. Studies link chlorine and these by-products to various cancers.* For these reasons, filtering your tap water with a locally appropriate water filter is a really good idea.

For more information on Vancouver water please click here.

This company out of Abbotsford appears to have some decent whole house water filtration systems. Eco-Water systems is the name but there are others out there. It’s always worth it to shop and compare.

A whole house filtration system can almost eliminate chlorine completely.

A whole house filtration system can almost eliminate chlorine completely.

Pets
Because of their smaller size and close proximity to the ground where chemicals are frequently used, pets can be at higher risk for toxin-based illnesses. Choosing organic foods, bedding, toys and flea/tick control is an excellent choice. No fire retardants or fabric protections should be used around pets, especially cats. Be aware that even vet-approved flea and tick formulations are dangerous. Some contain a pesticide called Fipronil, which is also in Roach Bait and is used to kill termites. There are health risks to the dog or cat treated, but also to the people who closely interact with animals treated with these toxins.

Earth Animal
Natural holistic pet care and pet health products, and natural flea and tick control
www.earthanimal.com
My dog Tuffy suffers from the worst allergies imaginable. I have him on a constant dose of steroids which is horrible for his liver. I will definitely check out this site and see if there’s something better for him. I’ll let you know!

I'm sure if you've visited our store lately you'll see 'Tuffy' sleeping at the front desk on his pillow on a French Bergere.

I’m sure if you’ve visited our store lately you’d have seen ‘Tuffy’ sleeping near the front desk on his pillow on a French Bergere. (He’s supposed to be guarding the store)

Vacuum
Removing allergens, dander, dust, pollen and other potential allergens is an integral part of maintaining a healthy home. A vacuum with a HEPA filter prevents particulate matter from recirculating indoors.

Miele
Specifically made for allergy sufferers, Miele offers a 12-stage HEPA filtration system with self-sealing dust bags. www.mieleusa.com (I’ve included a direct link to the vacuums sold in Canada with Canadian pricing.)

Dyson
With all the hype and expense this company spends, it still doesn’t have bag vacuums which personally I prefer to bagless. I find bagless dirty, and I hate emptying them. In any event, I’ve provided a link to their website directly related to their vacuums. To me, if it doesn’t have a bag, I’m not interested. Dyson Vacuums.

Electrolux
Electrolux offers vacuums in several price ranges that include HEPA filters. www.electroluxappliances.com (My Mom always had an Electrolux and swore they were the best. I’ve connected the link to the line of allergy free models sold here in Canada)

The 'green' electrolux jettmaxx.

The ‘green’ electrolux jettmaxx.

Eureka
Eureka offers HEPA vacuums in both canisters and upright models. Eureka also makes a pet friendly odor absorbing HEPA filter. www.evacuumstore.com

The Healthy House Institute. An American guide to building a chemical, allergen free house.

Marilee Nelson

Marilee Nelson

Marilee Nelson

Marilee Nelson specializes in working with people with Multiple Chemical Sensitivity.
The House Doctors/www.branchbasics.com
830-238-4589

Matthew Waletzke, Healthy Dwellings

Matthew Waletzke is a Certified Building Biology Environmental Consultant (BBEC), available for in-home consultations, healthy home presentations and workshops throughout the New York Tri-state area. Phone consultations available nationwide. www.healthydwellings.com

me2

The Center for Green Building in Connecticut
For information on all the above products and more. Their mission is to provide products that are safe for everyone ~ the people manufacturing them, the people exposed to them, and for the environment. They ship anywhere in the world. www.centerforgreenbuilding.com

Good Health!

Mark LaFleur
The Antique Warehouse
226 SW Marine Drive,
Vancouver, BC.

Visit our website and remember Antiques are Green.

How to avoid looking like a tourist in Paris.

Want to know how to avoid looking like a tourist in Paris? Well Conde Nast Traveller, a foremost authority on luxury travel seems to think they know.

I just read their article ‘How not to look like a tourist in Paris’ written for (I’m assuming) newbies travelling for the first time to the magnificent City of Light. Nast gives you little nuggets of information on French social etiquette, do’s and don’ts, and little words of journalistic wisdom they think will pass you off as Parisian and not some giant runner wearing, white socked, backpacked toting, poorly dressed, North American Tourist which will give you the cold shoulder from anyone Parisian.

Ines de la Fressange. An iconic Parisian. No matter how much she tells you on how to be Parisian chic you'll never be. Sorry, it's just the way it is.

Ines de la Fressange. An iconic Parisian. No matter how much she tells you how to acquire Parisian chic it’s simply not possible to get it in a book. It takes years of careful cultivation, living in Paris endlessly, being exposed to the most wonderful things on earth, and friends, friends who are chic and knowledgeable.

Let me say one thing first, no matter what you do, say, or dress, Parisians will spot a tourist in a split second. I know, I’ve passed as a Parisian for all but 30 seconds. No matter how good my French, how elegant my clothing, how perfect my mannerisms my attempt at deception fails miserably. Why? It’s a subtle combination of things least of which is my clothing.

What I lack most importantly (as do most Canadians) is their ‘grittiness’ and self confidence hedging on arrogance they develop from living in the most beautiful city in the world that has nothing but the finest things in life. When a Parisian blows into any town outside of Paris, the locals know it and immediately switch into subservient mode. They can’t help it. It’s a Parisian whose graced themselves with their presence.

This woman typifies French chic. Simple understated elegance.

This woman typifies French chic. Simple understated elegance.

I remember this one time 20 years ago, Larry and I decided to do a road trip with our Parisian friends, Gil and his friend, Christophe to St. Tropez, 20 years ago when St. Tropez was still chic and underdeveloped. Gil and Christophe are the quintessential Parisians right down to their very essence.

 

The color may be wrong but the place is right!

The color may be wrong but the place is right!

When we arrived to their apartment in the fashionable 16th they gushed with joy. I was flattered by their enthusiasm of seeing us but I didn’t realize it wasn’t us causing the fuss at all, but our car (more accurately our licesnse plates) that they were thrilled about. (They were waiting curbside for us) Sure the car was nice ( big black Mercedes), but it was our plates indicating we were from a fashionable part of Paris. (Every license plate in France has the postal code from where that car originates)

 

The No. 75 in this series of numbers indicates the car is registered in Paris. That gives you the license to speed more, avoid paying for parking, and just generally being an all around jerk.

The No. 75 in this series of numbers indicates the car is registered in Paris. That gives you the license to speed, avoid paying for parking, parking anywhere you please, and just generally being an all around jerk.

A black Mercedes with Parisian plates is the chicest in cars you could possibly have. (Besides a Bentley of course) It would garauntee we’d have every French person outside of Paris shake in their boots before we even arrived. And believe me, they did. Combined with the attitude’ of my Parisian friends we were treated like visiting royalty. I learned more about Parisians than any time on that trip.

 

Typically French with the fabulous hair, makeup and attitude.

Typically French with the fabulous hair, makeup and ‘don’t even think of talking to me unless you have a black American express’ look.

The following excerpts are taken from the Conde Nast article. (They’re italicized with my comments in block lettering following)

HOW TO GREET SOMEONE (by Conde Nast)

Start off on the right foot by greeting people with “bonjour” (hello). It’s not only polite to do when you’re introduced directly to someone, but also when you go into a shop, when you’re first approached by a waiter at a restaurant, even when entering an elevator. While this may seem a little much, it’s an important way to ingratiate yourself with the locals—and, in return, you’ll receive much better service or attention.

In the evening, you should technically say “bonsoir” (good evening), though the start time of saying this is somewhat fuzzy. It’s typically said as evening starts to fall, but in summer that ends up being rather late. Still, some others start saying bonsoir as soon as they leave work; a safe bet is to begin using that salutation around 7pm. If you say bonjour during the evening, it’s better than nothing, but you might be quickly tagged as a foreigner.

MARKS COMMENT: It’s not only polite it’s imperative you always greet anyone with a bonjour first. If you don’t you run the risk of being stopped mid sentence with a ‘Bonjour’ and a facial expression like you’re radiating an offensive odor and your nothing but a declasse cretin lacking in any social grace. It’s most uncomfortable and embarassing being on the receiving end of this attitude.

 

I love the way Parisians will always greet one another even if they're complete strangers. A gentlemen will always acknowledge someone in an elevator or other confined space. I've seen people enter a restaurant and always say bonjour to the table next to them. So civilized.

I love the way Parisians will always greet one another even if they’re complete strangers. A gentlemen will always acknowledge another by saying ‘bonjour’ in an elevator or other confined space. I’ve seen people enter a restaurant and say bonjour to everyone and particularly the table next to them and bonsoir when leaving. So civilized.

DO’S AND DON’T’S (by Conde Nast)

Do exchange la bise (a light kiss on each cheek) in social situations between women; it’s also okay between men and women.

Do not greet another man with a kiss if you’re a man; shake hands instead. Men normally don’t give each other la bise unless they are very, very good friends or family; even then it’s rare.

Do let the French person take the lead with cheek kissing, in order to avoid awkwardly misplaced lips or a shuffle of heads. You should also follow suit with the number of kisses exchanged. The general norm in Paris calls for just one kiss on each cheek, but some groups of friends have their own customs. Additionally, some regions around France follow different rules.

MARKS COMMENT: This is just not true about men kissing. Yes men and women kiss each other, but there’s nothing rare about male friends kissing in the slightest. (In fact some of them of have slept together at least once…hey, it’s France)

Besides male friends kissing each other cheeks (never the lips) they may give a nice strong hug. ‘Air kissing’ is just not cool between men. It’s too effeminate. Between women, yes, but men are always more hearty in their greetings are secure enough in their masculinity. They’ll also kiss each other goodbye too and think nothing of it. It’s only North American men that are hung up on ‘touch’.

 

This is a little familiar to be a simple bonjour kiss it is however a photo from one of my all time favorite French movie "Bonjour Tristesse" with Jean Seeberg and David Niven. Filmed on the French Riviera in 1958. A must see! (North American's hated it when it came out, whereas the French loved it!)

This is a little familiar to be a simple bonjour kiss it is however a photo from one of my all time favorite French movie “Bonjour Tristesse” with Jean Seberg and David Niven. Filmed on the French Riviera in 1958. A must see! (North American’s hated it when it came out, whereas the French loved it!)

WHAT TO WEAR: (By Conde Nast)

To fit in with locals, it’s best to leave behind any sweatpants, baseball caps, flip-flops and white sneakers. Parisians are generally quite stylish, but that doesn’t necessarily mean extravagant haute couture outfits—instead, think casual chic. You’ll likely see Parisian women wearing some combinations of skinny jeans, an up-and-coming designer top, Converse, or ballerina flats. Parisians also love their trench coats (which they call le trench) and blazers, and wearing a long scarf will also help you blend in.

Fanny-packs or large colorful backpacks are a dead giveaway for tourists; if the latter is necessary, keep it more on the discreet side. Another option is to pick up a very Parisian Longchamp bag, a nice leather purse, or a chic bag designed for men. Lastly, while you might be tempted to purchase a beret while you’re here, unless you’re planning on playing petanque with elderly gentleman, you should save it for back home.

(MARKS’ COMMENT)

Forget it, you’ll never look like a Parisian no matter how hard you try. I’ve seen the chicest of Parisians running around in flip flops, tight sweat pants (not lululemon) and ball hats so that blows Conde Nasts theory out of the water. If I were you I’d pack whatever makes you feel most comfortable. I have some tips below that may help. I can tell you one thing, designer bags, clothing, etc stamped with designer initials are totally ‘unchic’ as of recent. It’s commom sights like these all over Paris that are the culprit.

 

A common scene throughout high end designer stores in Paris. In fact, it's this sort of thing that's making labels passe and quickly out of fashion.

A common scene throughout high end designer stores in Paris. In fact, it’s this sort of thing that’s making labels passe and quickly out of fashion.

Tips for women: Use less make-up, get a fabulous classic easy hair style, and dress simply but with elegance. And be skinny. Skinny, skinny skinny. Lose 10 lbs before you go. You cannot be too skinny unless you’re, God forbid, dying from some horrible disease. French women don’t care what they wear actually as long as they look bulimic.

Parisian women (and men) are the chicest on the planet and it’s because they dress appropriately for their age, body type and budget. You don’t need to be rich to be chic. In fact, it’s quite the reverse. If a women is rich, you know it by her demeanor, hair, flawless skin, simple makeup, and simple elegance not by the gigantic vulgar designer bags or back breakingly high Jimmy Choos’ that are so popular with North Americans.

 

These are average but undeniably beautiful Parisian women. if you can pull off this look you may get mistaken for Parisian.

These are average but undeniably beautiful Parisian women. if you can pull off this look you may get mistaken for Parisian.

North Americans always wear way too much make-up and jewelry and always look too healthy and cosmetically altered. Yes, Parisian women do cosmetic surgery too, and they look just as weird, but they still look French.

 

Oh My! What was this poor French woman thinking?

Oh My! What was this poor woman thinking?

 

I've seen too many North American women aspiring to this look. They will NEVER look chic or Parisian no matter what they do.

I’ve seen too many North American women aspiring to this ‘Housewives of Hollywood’ look. They will NEVER look chic, never mind Parisian, no matter how hard they try.

Tips for men: Bring a navy sports jacket, good dress shoes, great jeans, and a white shirt. The classic Parisian male look is a crisp white shirt, gorgeous slim blue jeans, and a blue or black jacket and beautiful black shoes. Messy hair, longish if possible and voila, you can wear that practially anywhere. You need a nice coat of course, but a great ‘Canada Goose’ coat for winter is a la mode in Paris.

 

Parisian 'silhouettes'. Lean, simple and elegant.

Parisian ‘silhouettes’. Lean, simple and elegant.

 

There is nothing about this look that so many north american males embrace is cool in Paris. But then, neither is John Travolta.

There is nothing Parisian ‘male’ about this look that unfortunately so many North American males embrace. But then, John Travolta’s cool factor has all but disappeared.

HOW TO WALK AND TALK: (by Conde Nast)

Parisians walk with a purpose, but that doesn’t equate to a race through the streets; rather, they walk at a steady but determined pace. It’s good form to walk on the right side of the sidewalk (this also applies to escalators), but on busy streets it can be a bit of a free-for-all. If you need to look at your map, “pull over” and consult it to the side of the road instead of in the middle of the sidewalk: this will save you from the evil stares, huffs or nudges of your fellow pedestrians.

Contrary to some stereotypes of Mediterraneans, Parisians are very soft speakers. Speaking loudly in public is frowned upon, but it can also make you stand out as a tourist and thus lead to unwanted attention, particularly from pickpockets.

MARKS COMMENT: Who cares how you walk. That’s bizarre. But Parisians are soft speakers that’s true. Particularly when dining out in a good Parisian restaurant. (bistros tend to be a bit noisier particularly during a sports match)

It’s a pleasure dining out in France not only because the food is beyond amazing, it’s truly because everyone is quiet, and respectful of their neighbours. Even French children tend to be well behaved and will eat whatever the adults do.

 

Even outside, Parisians are discreet and quiet when they eat. Be prepared to be scanned from head to foot if you pass by.

Even outside, Parisians are discreet and quiet when they eat. Be prepared to be scanned from head to foot if you pass by.

French people tend to order quickly and never fuss around with the menu. Waiters hate indecisive people, particularly tourists. Ask for an English menu if you must but once the waiter arrives order with purpose and no hesitation. You can certainly ask questions, but again, don’t dilly dally between one thing and another.

I’m always apprehensive about dining out in North America. People love to be loud and strive to be ‘centers of attention’. If I see a large group of women or men on a ‘night out’ or couples with loud undiscplined children I ask to be seated as far away as possible. I wish North Americans would realize that they are not ‘cool’ when they yell and scream in a restaurant. It’s so gross and ill mannered.

 

People...this is how you look and sound to everyone else in a restaurant...please take it outside!

People…this is how you look and sound to everyone else in a restaurant…please take it outside!

(If you want to be really Parisian, order a ‘hamburger’ and use a knife and fork to eat it with. 99% of Parisians never pick it up and eat burgers like we do in North America. I always eat them like that now, even in Canada. I know I look crazy, but frankly I hate hamburgers dripping down my mouth, shirt etc.)

 

This looks gross on so many levels Ms. Hilton.

This looks gross on so many levels Ms. Hilton.

LEARNING THE LOCAL LANGUAGE: (by Conde Nast)

It’s polite to learn a few key phrases in French; this will earn you the respect of locals, and help you in the end. As mentioned above, the friendly bonjour is essential. Other key expressions include au revoir (good bye), merci (thank you), s’il vous plait (please) and l’addition (the bill). One thing not to do: Hail your waiter by saying garcon! If anything, it will likely encourage a waiter to take his sweet time in actually bringing you the bill.

(MARKS COMMENT)

I agree to totally use bonjour, bonsoir, au revoir, merci etc. The French love it if you try. But don’t try too hard. Just revert to English if you’re unsure or your accent would peel paint of a wall. I remember hearing Texans trying to speak French. I mimicked that accent for days it was so funny and used it wherever I went. It drove Larry crazy!! (BTW…the correct term for a service person is Monsieur or Madame. C’est tout!)

 

As long as you try and don't act like a self-entitled jerk, the French will be nice.

As long as you try and don’t act like a self-entitled jerk, the French can be the most charming and gracious in the world.

That was all Conde Nast had to say about the subject. I have a few more examples of my own that you may find amusing.

1. People that run around Paris with perpetual smiles on their faces.

Look I know you’re loving every second of the ‘charm’ of the big city, but perpetual smiles sets you apart immediately and may get you purposely run over by a crazed tourist overdosed Parisian on a moped. Parisians NEVER smile on the street. They scowl. And frequently. There’s a French saying that Parisians aspire to. “J’aime rien, Je suis Parisian” (I dislike everything…I am Parisian)

 

'I love nothing! I am Parisian' is very French.

‘I love nothing! I am Parisian’ is very French.

2. I know we covered this subject above but it’s worth mentioning again. Never approach a service person without saying ‘Bonjour’

3. People that buy padlocks to put on one of the bridges to profess their undying love…Hello, the city of Paris is now removing them! Don’t waste your time even thinking this is romantic or the slightest bit Parisian. It’s an eye sore and you look like a jerk.. period!

 

Paris city workers removing padlocks from Paris bridges.

Paris city workers removing padlocks from Paris bridges.

4. The wedding party that insists on trudging across bridges or intersections with cameras in tow and torn ill fitting wedding gowns looking for that special spot to take their “I was married in Paris, look how glamorous I am”. It’s not cool, and Parisians get married anywhere but in the streets of Paris. Typically at a country house way, way outside of the city. Wedding photos in the city are only for tourists and peasants.

 

Parisians gag when they see this!

Parisians smirk when they see this!

5. Do NOT rent a Segway. Only tourists do this and they look like complete idiots. Walking is good for you and helps you lose weight that you will obviously want to lose once you see how skinny Parisians are. Parisians are just waiting for you to get smucked by some truck. Brad who works for me told me the owner of Segway was mistakenly killed by driving off a cliff in one of his stupid contraptions. It’s true, I checked!

 

Segways are stupid and so are the tourists that use them.

Segways are stupid and so are the tourists that use them. Walking is good for your health and the best way to see Paris.

6. Jumping for Joy photos. No offense to the Asian population but you folks are most guilty of doing this. You look ridiculous and I and every other Parisian are just waiting for you to fall flat on your ‘ass’.

 

Two Bulgarian tourists pose in front of the Eiffel Tower in Paris on their last day. Try jumping off the Eiffel tower for a real thrill.

Two Bulgarian tourists pose in front of the Eiffel Tower in Paris on their last day. Try jumping off the Eiffel tower for a real thrill.

7. Hanging out near the Moulin Rouge. Fine if you want to do a quick drive by just to say you saw it. But the Moulin Rouge is and always was, in the worst part of Paris. Surrounded by pornographic movie houses, sex shops etc. it’s not a pretty sight. And PLEASE do not stand in front serenading the place by singing the theme song from the 2001 movie. You may get egged and it just might be me!

 

Look out for pickpockets. They prey on tourists at this location.

Look out for pickpockets. They prey on tourists at this location because only tourists go here.

Happy Travels you Parisian you!

Mark LaFleur
The Antique Warehouse
226 SW Marine Drive,
Vancouver.

Please visit our fabulous website.

Paris Hotels on Sale in August.

The famous 'Deux Magots' in St. Germain Des Pres. If you want to hear nothing but English being spoken eat here.

The famous ‘Deux Magots’ in St. Germain Des Pres. If you want to hear nothing but English being spoken stop here.

In case any of you want to pop off to Paris last minute there are some great hotel deals you can take advantage of. I would never suggest in staying in anything less than a 4 star but some 3’s can be nice. The hotels I’ve mentioned are 4 and 5 star which pretty much guarantee a decent place. (none of which I’ve personally tried) They range in price from around 150E – 300E a night which is a total deal in Paris.

The four I’ve listing below (particularly Castille, Paris if you adore shopping) sound nice and I believe have A/C which is a total must. (But don’t expect all the A/C’s to be on par with North American standards…at least it will cool the room slightly)

Castille Paris http://www.castille.com/en/
(On the fashionable Rue Cambon!)

Castille is on one of the most glamorous streets in Paris!

Castille is on one of the most glamorous streets in Paris! But you better be dressed from head to toe in ‘Chanel’ or be young and gorgeous or you’ll get a janitors room which they’ll insist you reserved in hopes that you will just disappear.

L’Edmond Hotel: http://www.edmond-hotel.fr/en/

In the nice area of the 17th Arrondisement. You'll need to take a taxi or metro to see the major sights. Not a big deal.

In the nice area of the 17th Arrondisement. You’ll need to take a taxi or metro to see the major sights. Not a big deal.

Platine Hotel Paris: http://www.platinehotel.fr/en/

The Platine Hotel is a 4.5 star hotel with great reviews in the 15th Arrondisement.  It's close to the Eiffel tower.

The Platine Hotel is a 4.5 star hotel with great reviews in the 15th Arrondisement. It’s close to the Eiffel tower. It’s fascination with Hollywood (and Marilyn) would tire me quickly.

Hotels les Theatres http://www.hotellestheatres.com/en/

A 7-minute walk from the food markets of Rue Montorgueil, this quirky hotel is 16 minutes' walk from Centre Pompidou and 1.8 km from the Picasso National Museum.  Sophisticated rooms are inspired by French theatrical and artistic figures. Those inspired by Jean Cocteau have bright colors and modern decor, while those based on Molière have 17th-century-style murals. All come with minibars, free WiFi and flat-screen TVs, and some feature balconies.  It's not one of my favorite areas but still OK and a great deal.

A 7-minute walk from the food markets of Rue Montorgueil, this quirky hotel is 16 minutes’ walk from Centre Pompidou and 1.8 km from the Picasso National Museum.
Sophisticated rooms are inspired by French theatrical and artistic figures. Those inspired by Jean Cocteau have bright colors and modern decor, while those based on Molière have 17th-century-style murals. All come with minibars, free WiFi and flat-screen TVs, and some feature balconies.
It’s not one of my favorite areas but still OK and a great deal.

All the hotels I’ve mentioned above have great reviews but as always, do your due diligence. The internet has a nasty way of heightening peoples expectations through photography. Trip advisor can be helpful but I always do a ‘Google Maps’ just to see the surrounding neighbourhood.

I can assure you these neighbourhoods are safe and nice and you won’t be smack dab in the middle of Place Pigalle or the porno district as did one of my unfortunate friends (who didn’t take my advice and was almost mugged).

But beware of the gypsy Romas (sorry Stevie Nicks, the gypsy cool is uncool in Paris) who are out in full force in Paris now. They (Adult and little children gypsys) surround their victim and literally grab watches, purses, wallets anything they can get their hands on. A group of five children tried to grab Larry’s wallet when we were lunching in the Marais right off our table as Larry was pulling out his CC to pay the bill. It was amazing the set up these kids had. They poked their heads through a hedge surrounding the patio waving papers they wanted us to read. Then a little one sneeked his paper covered hand towards Larry’s wallet on the table and tried to grab it. Larry caught him the act though and smacked his hand so hard the pack ran off screaming for their parents.

The gypsy scourge of Paris. (Sorry Stevie Nicks, the Gypsy look is not cool in Paris.) It got so bad around the Louvre that it closed for a day in protest. If you see any of these people don't speak or stop for them. They will even come up to you dressed normally and ask you to sign a petition. Then fleece you without even knowing.

The scourge of Paris. It got so bad around the Louvre that it closed in protest. If you see any of these people don’t speak or stop for them. They will even come up to you dressed normally and ask you to sign a petition, then fleece you without even knowing.

Larry was also mugged in Brussels in one of the most fashionable areas of the city. Poor Larry, I think they can tell he’s a trusting soul. I on the other hand, give them one my ‘don’t even think of trying to #&*$(#!! with me boys looks’ at and they head for the hills.

Faites Attention!

Happy Holidays!

Mark LaFleur
The Antique Warehouse
226 SW Marine Drive,
Vancouver BC. Canada

Please visit our fabulous website

The Mystery of Rennes le Chateau

Almost every Chateau or Cathedral in France has some sort of legend or mystery. Whether they’re true or not is another matter. Legends and mysteries add an element of glamor and intrigue like nothing else can.

I remember my elegant Parisian friend, Jean Francois, recounting over dinner about the antics of a ‘Dame Blanche’ (apparition of a woman) in a Chateau just south of Paris. He arrived a day late to meet up with his friends who were cranky and exhausted from having slept badly the night before and thanked Jean Francois very much for choosing such a contemptible place for their weekend getaway. They went on to explain that some imbecile kept ringing the church bells on the property all night long preventing them from sleeping a wink.

When they confronted the owner, le Marquis de Kéguelin de Rozière (a bona fide cravate and jodpur wearing slick backed hair crop carrying horse back riding French nobleman) the aristocrat merely waved his hand and remarked it was beyond his control. He politely explained it was the agitated spirit of the ‘Dame Blanche’ who was the former owner and a French aristocrat murdered on site over 2 Centuries ago during the French Revolution. The refined Marquis apologized for any inconvenience his resident ghost may have caused.

Le Marquis de Kéguelin de Rozière

Le Marquis de Kéguelin de Rozière

The Chateau du Gue Pean where the bells ring when the resident phantom has had enough.

The Chateau du Gue Pean, home to the Marquis, where the bells toll by unseen and unhappy spirits (or more likely by a young minion hired by the Le Marquis de Kéguelin de Rozière to scare unruly self entitled Parisian guests out of his Chateau and back to Paris.

I don’t know what you think of the supernatural, but I’m always a little skeptical when I hear the word. I’m inclined to search for a plausible more reasonable explanation. I think I saw one once (ghost that is) when I was a little kid in my parents 150 year old Cariboo 14 bedroom roadside inn they’d bought back in the 60’s. You see, my parents were a bit of an oddity back then. They lived in Shaughnessy and had a place in Palm Desert but adored the wilderness of the Cariboo too. They would serve us wine with dinner (I’ve never had a substance abuse problem to this day), or at a drop of hat, would pack my little brother and me in the back of their 20′ long yellow 1964 Lincoln Continental Convertible to spend a week at Caesars Palace in Las Vegas back in the 60’s when it was chic and children were a rarity. They would pull us out of school at any old time and say ‘you’ll learn more from travelling than you ever will at school’. Our school grades suffered slightly of course, but I’d never trade good grades for those wonderful times we had with our parents. My parents were fabulous I love and miss them dearly.

In any event, one summer night at the ‘Lightning Inn’ (the name of my parents Inn that they never rented out but kept as a big old sprawling summer house) my little brother and I were sharing the same bed room and woke up exactly at the same time to a vision of something white and cloudy like floating at the entrance of our upstairs bedroom. When my brother shouted out ‘What’s that’ it flew away like a bat out of *@&%#!! and sent us scurrying downstairs panicky and crying out for our Mom and Dad. Was it a ghost? I’m still not sure, but we both saw it.

My parents 'roadside inn' was the further building in the photo from the foreground almost set directly in the middle.  It still remains where the other building have long since disappeared. Photo C.1940.

My parents ‘roadside inn’ is the furthest building from the foreground almost set directly in the middle. When they bought it nothing but the old Inn remained and all those buildings in this photo had long since disappeared. Photo courtesy of the Victoria archives C.1940.

One of the most famous legends of all time is the legend of Father Berenger Sauniere who wasn’t a phantom at all but a living parish priest who lived in a small village in the South of France known as Rennes le Chateau.

The legend began in the 1950’s when a businessman decided to open a restaurant in Rennes-le-Château after the second World War. Times were hard and so he put a tape recording, later a video recording, on the tables of the restaurant as a gift to his clients.

The recordings explained that the local priest in the village, Bérenger Saunière, who served there from 1885 to 1917, had discovered a fortune. (This part was true)

Legend had it that the money Sauniere found was a cache hoarded by Blanche of Castille (the Queen of France from 1188-1252) to pay the ransom for her son, Louis IX, who was being held captive by the Saracens in the 12th century. Another legend claims it is quite possibly the long lost Treasure of Jerusalem, which included fabulous amounts of gold and silver, the Ark of the Covenant and the Holy Grail. (the cup used by Jesus at the Last Supper) hidden by the Knights of the Templar who inhabited the area in the 12th Century. Either legend had some plausibility.

The Villa Berthenia built by Father Berenger Sauniere who made less than 900 Francs per year.

The Villa Bethenia built by Father Berenger Sauniere who made less than 900 Francs per year.

The story hit the Parisian newspapers and Rennes-le-Château became a hot tourist spot forever more.

Rennes-le-Château (Rènnas del Castèl in the language of Occitan) is a small unassuming village approximately 5 km (3 miles) south of Couiza, in the Aude department in Languedoc in southern France. It’s near the wonderful walled medieval city of Carcassone which I’ve been to on several occasions.

10s of thousands visitors descend on this tiny little village in the South of France every year after Dan Brown made it famous in his book The Davinci Code.

10s of thousands visitors descend on this tiny little village in the South of France every year after Dan Brown made it famous in his book The Da Vinci Code.

This small French hilltop village receives tens of thousands of visitors per year, for being at the center of various conspiracy theories made famous by the book and movie The Da Vinci code by Dan Brown. (who created his own fortune from the legend)

What is not legend is at the end of the 19th century, Bérenger Saunière, the poor parish priest of Rennes-le-Château, all of a sudden started spending a lot more money then he could ever have earned in 10 of his lifetimes. He had been assigned to this tiny village in the south of France at the age of 33 and had spent his first few years there in piety and poverty. According to his meticulously kept accounting books, in February 1892 he had a debt of 105 francs and 80,65 francs in his ‘fonds secrets’ (savings). How any man could go from having 80,000 francs in his bank account to spending almost 2.5 Million Euros in just a few years is the subject of all this controversy. He wasn’t an imbezzler…his church simply didn’t pull in that kind of money. And he was not a genius at business either.

Parish priest Berenger Sauniere started spending money like a rock star at the end of the 19th Century when Parish priests were supposed to be poor.

Parish priest Berenger Sauniere started spending money like a rock star at the end of the 19th Century when Parish priests were supposed to be poor.

Legend has it that he discovered a secret doorway and went down into the crypt, and discovered something valuable enough to enable him to build a house and live a lifestyle rivalling the wealthiest nobility of southern France.

Digging in the crypt goes on to this very day.

Digging in the crypt goes on to this very day. A former Mayor of Rennes le Chateau and his son.

In 1969 a book was published in French, telling an amazing tale of secret documents with coded messages being discovered by Saunière, of mysterious murders of people who knew the secret and were blackmailing the Vatican, of caches of gold and silver, of adulterous alliances, of links to the Royalty of Europe, of the amazing story that, via the Merovingians, the rightful kings of France, the descendant of Jesus himself was alive and well and living in Paris. The mind reels with intrigue!

Sauniere's Mary magdalene Church at Rennes-le-Chateau

Sauniere’s Mary magdalene Church at Rennes-le-Chateau

Some believe the decorations of the church carried secret messages and further treasure is still to be discovered. Others believe the “secret” to be religious and linked with Mary Magdalene. An old legend of the region says she came to Rennes-le-Château with Jesus (who hadn’t died on the cross but merely went into a coma) and preached very early Christianity which later became Catharism. The Cathars were obliterated as heretics in the 13th century, a bloody and cruel part of history that had never been forgiven or forgotten by the local people of the region.

A stain on history: the burning of Jacques de Molay, Grand Master of the mysterious Knights Templar some 700 years ago.

A stain on history: the burning of Jacques de Molay, Grand Master of the mysterious Knights Templar some 700 years ago.

From 1208-1244 the first European holocaust was conducted. The Church of Rome savagely attacked the Cathars, the peaceful ‘heretics of the Languedoc’ of Southern France, with a viciousness and detestable arrogance paralleled only by the Nazi atrocities during WW II.

The Cathars called themselves ‘Pure Ones’ after the Goddess known as the Pure One, their term for the Virgin Great Creator Mother Mari (meaning ‘love’). The reason the Church resorted to the mass murder of hundreds of thousands of Cathars most certainly had to do with their alternative views about Jesus and of course the belief they held that he never died on the cross.

Painting. Expulsion of the Cathars

Painting. Expulsion of the Cathars

The old city of Carcasssone was built by the Romans and was occupied by the Visigoths in the fifth century. This is how it appears today.

The old city of Carcasssone was built by the Romans and was occupied by the Visigoths in the fifth century. This is how it appears today.

A Cathar Castle in ruins dating back to the 11th Century.

A Cathar Castle in ruins dating back to the 11th Century.

They claimed to possess a secret Book of Love (Mari, TARA). This mysterious manuscript is attributed to Jesus who gave it to John the Divine. It was transmitted through the centuries until the Knights Templar and the Cathars adopted it. The Book of Love was the foundation of the Cathar Church of Love or Amor (the letters in reverse of the church of Roma (Rome)).

This book is apparently based on the teachings of the Cathar 'Book of Love'

This book is apparently based on the teachings of the Cathar ‘Book of Love’

The existence of this lost (or hidden) gospel was revealed when the Catholic Church subjected the Cathars and Templar (in 1308) to torture. Its contents were a secret skill (symbolized by the Templar skull) said to grant one the ability to control the forces of nature and to transform ordinary human blood into that of the wise, holy and pure blood of life of the immortal Illi or Illuminati. It is equated with the Holy Grail.

The foreboding Templar Skull.

The foreboding Templar Skull.

All of that is great story telling to be sure but there is one thing for sure, Sauniere did find something of great value.

There are numerous theories and ideas as to what Saunière found. Several instances have been recorded in which Saunière made reference to something like a treasure. For example Antoine Beaux, Abbé of Campagne-sur-Aude was attending a dinner party at Saunière’s table once. He remarked “My friend, to see you doing so well, one would think you found a treasure”. To this the host appears to have answered: “Me l’an donat, l’ai panat, l’ai parat é bé lo teni“. It’s Saunière’s dialect of the Langue d’Oc. In modern French it means “Ils me l’ont donné, je l’ai pris, je l’ai apprêtré; eh bien, je le tiens bien.” An English translation would be: “They gave it to me, I took it, I made it work and I will hold onto it.”

Father Sauniere and his friends.

Father Sauniere and his friends.

From these stories it seems likely that Saunière did indeed find some coins, a chalice and one or more documents. The documents either led him to a secret entrance to the old crypt of the Eglise Madeleine (for example via a fake grave of Marie de Nègre) or to another location where he found something that brought him fortune.

In any event, the story of Father Sauniere is a true story, but what he found does remain a mystery.

Just last year a couple of Spanish art historians identified what they feel the actual ‘Holy Grail’. Since then thousands of Christians have swarmed the Basilica of San Isidoro in Leon Spain, hoping to catch a glimpse of the legendary Cup of Christ.

It dates correctly. Carbon dating puts it at around the exact time of the life of Christ.

The purported 'Holy Grail' resides in a basilica in Leon Spain and carbon dates to around the life of Christ.

The purported ‘Holy Grail’ resides in a basilica in Leon Spain and carbon dating verifies it’s age to be anywhere from 1900 to 2300 years old.

According to the historians, Torres and del Río, the Holy Grail is an onyx goblet that sits like a Russian nesting doll within another larger, gold and jewel encrusted cup, known as the Chalice of Doña Urruca. The historians believe that both the Holy Grail and the chalice it rests in have been residing at the Basilica since sometime in the 11th century.

If you’re ever down that way, Carcasonne is worth a visit. The medieval city is amazing. The village of Carcasonne, which is adjacent to the walled city is nothing special and frankly you can spend 30 minutes there are get bored quite quickly.

The village of Carcasonne is pretty enough, but nothing special.

The village of Carcasonne is pretty enough, but nothing special.

Thanks for reading.

Mark LaFleur

The Antique Warehouse
226 SW Marine Drive,
Vancouver, B.C.
V5X 2R4

Visit our Website at antiquewarehouse.ca

Paris Plages….

What are ‘Paris Plages’ you ask? Literally translated Paris Plages in English means Paris beaches.

You probably think where on earth are there any beaches in Paris. There aren’t. Not really. At least not for most of the year. But for one month every summer since 2002, the city transforms a stretch of highway that runs along the Seine into a fake beach dumping millions of gallons of sand along the road plunking down fake Palm trees in effort to create a artificial French Riviera.

Parisians and tourists broiling like lobsters.

Parisians and tourists broiling like lobsters.

Myself, I’m not a big fan of anything artificial. From artificial turfs, intelligence, breasts, lips, and particularly people, the word ‘artificial’ never appeals to me on any level. But these faux beaches are popular, and attract millions of visitors every summer.

 

The beaches open every July 21, and pack people from morning to night.

The beaches open every July 21, and pack people from morning to night.

As I’ve mentioned in previous blogs, most French city-dwellers traditionally escape to the seaside or the countryside during the summer, especially in August. You don’t need to be rich in order to do this. It just takes careful planning (months in advance) in order to find something within anyone’s budget.

Now we here in Vancouver are blessed with beaches (albeit some or more polluted than others) but nevertheless we’re surrounded by sandy beaches making Vancouver nothing short of a breathtaking paradise. It’s little wonder people from around the world marvel at our beautiful city.

Spanish Banks, one of the loveliest beaches anywhere.

Spanish Banks, one of the loveliest beaches anywhere.

Unfortunately for Paris, they’re not so lucky. That’s when about 15 years ago the openly gay and socialist Mayor of Paris, Bertrand Delanoe decided he would create an artificial beach for the unfortunates in Paris that simply can’t or don’t want to get away.

Open daily from 9am to midnight, the Paris Plages are free and open to anyone who wants to use them.

 

Hundreds of gays on the 'make' flood the beaches at night. Not recommended for the average visitor, child or unaware handsome heterosexual man who may wonder why he's suddenly become the center of attention.

Hundreds of gays on the ‘make’ flood the beaches at night. Not recommended for the average visitor, child, or unsuspecting handsome heterosexual man who may wonder why he’s suddenly become the center of attention.

The Paris-Plages scheme was instigated in 2002 by Bertrand Delanoë, the newly elected Socialist Party mayor (pictured below), as a haven for relieving the misery of those cooped up in the sweltering city

 

The gay mayor, Bertrand Delanoe did more to hurt Paris than any other mayor in my opinion.

The openly socialist gay mayor, Bertrand Delanoe started his ‘greening’ of Paris by closing major thoroughfares to create his beaches thus creating a traffic nightmare. Unfortunately his ‘greening’ was short sighted. Now Paris has one of the worst pollution problems in the world created by cars that are blocked in traffic and idling, pumping millions of gallons of diesel fumes into the atmosphere. Well done Mayor Delanoe and all the subsequent Mayors following this ‘greening’ of Paris war on vehicles declaration.

Initially there was a single beach on the Rive Droite. In 2006 a second beach was added on the Rive Gauche, and the scheme’s name changed from singular to plural.

On the Paris plages women are not allowed to go topless as they do almost everywhere else in France. But all men (I kid you not) MUST wear speedo bathing suits if they wish to swim the pools. No exceptions, not in Paris or any public pool, hotel or otherwise in France. It’s the law!

Sorry to have to tell you this Rod Stewart but this is not a good look for you.

It’s a safe bet Mr. Rod Stewart was not complying with the ‘hygeine’ law of France when he chose to wear this piece. Someone ought to do him a favor and tell him it’s not a look he should embrace.

Let me tell you about my own personal experience with this bizarre law.

On a summer buying trip to France (about six years ago) I decided to stay at a hotel just outside the city that had an outdoor pool. I thought it would be a refreshing end to a long hard day of 38C temperatures and high humidity. I appeared at the pool in my beautiful French ‘Villebrequin’ swimming tunks and a young life guard of sorts (a real pain in the ‘A’ albeit good looking) came running over and told me I could not swim in the pool. I was shocked. I thought maybe it was because I was out of shape (you know how the French are) or maybe he disliked my gorgeous bathing suit which I found impossible to believe because everyone, no matter who, recognizes the brand and even Prince William wears them.

I stood there red and humiliated not knowing exactly what problem this lifeguard had with me while snobby Parisians discretely glanced up over their designer sunglasses and smirked.

Prince William (in his Villebrequin's)  and Kate in the French Riviera.

Prince William (in his Villebrequin’s) and Kate in the French Riviera.

Finally, after minutes of heated exchange I finally understood that he wanted me and my 54 year old body to change into a speedo bathing suit! It was when he pointed down to his unmentionable area, then grabbed my shorts and waggled his finger back and forth that I sort of got the point. In fact, I actually thought he wanted my suit in exchange for his which would not be totally unreasonable given the fact my suit was far more chic than his.

My 'Villebrequin' swimming trunks are similar to these and prohibited (even though they cost a fortune) in public and private pools across France.  Hey, if I looked like him I might consider wearing speedos but just to swim in.

My ‘Villebrequin’ swimming trunks are similar to these and prohibited (even though they cost a fortune) in public and private pools across France. Hey, if I looked like him I might consider wearing speedos but just to swim in.

Stunned, I told him (in English) I would never be seen dead in a speedo at my age, NEVER! I wore speedos when I was 25 and looked quite fabulous, but now, not a chance! He shrugged his shoulders and walked away dismissing me as if I was some minor annoying insect. I checked out of there in a huff and opted for an air conditioned hotel instead.

Tony Curtis in a speedo in Italy. Yikes!

Tony Curtis in a speedo in Italy. Where are the fashion police when you need them.

It wasn’t until a short time later after a dinner with a French friends that I was told it was a law in France and it was legislated for ‘hygienic’ reasons. Hygienic? Are they mad? I’m sure I don’t have to spell out what they meant by ‘hygienic’ but my trunks are always lined to keep my ‘boys’ in place. And I can assure you speedos are not going to trap anything unhygienic if a guy is dirty or diseased. PERIOD! End of Rant!

These speedo spandex trunks are permitted and actually are quite nice on. But again, please be in good shape no matter what age.

These speedo spandex trunks are permitted and actually are quite nice on. But again, please be in good shape no matter what age. Spandex on older fat men can be emotionally and visually scarring.

In any event, the Paris plages have proven a major success; the number of visitors has grown each year and topped four million in 2007. Every season, new features are added. These include a shuttle ferry linking the two riverbanks, a floating swimming pool, and another beach area at La Villette, in the northeast corner of the city.

If you happen to be in Paris in late July you’ll see the Seine all decked out. It’s a little weird and personally I’ve never spent any time there but go if you must. It’s worth a visit even if it’s just for an ice cream.

Enjoy the Summer.

Mark LaFleur
The Antique Warehouse
226 SW Marine Drive,
Vancouver, B.C.

Visit our website:

Thrift Stores Yielding Treasures Again?

What’s going on these days anyway? People seem to be finding valuable pieces in the oddest places. From thrift stores to parking lots, things worth millions of dollars are making headlines again.

This doesn’t mean you need to run to your neighbourhood thrift store and start tearing the place apart. The chances of this sort of thing happening to you or me has odds of a million to 1. (I still keep hoping to find a long lost Da Vinci or valuable manuscript in one of those locked chests we bring in from France)

Just last January the supreme court ordered a stolen ‘Renoir’ that was apparently bought for $7 at a Virginia flea market returned to the Baltimore museum. The painting is worth over $100k and the Federal court judge didn’t buy the owners story. I must admit it didn’t sound right to me either.

A woman claims to have bought this original painting by French impressionist Pierre-Auguste Renoir at a flea market in West Virginia, paying $7 for a box of trinkets (the painting was among them.)  A federal judge ruled that the woman hand it over to a Baltimore museum, which proved it had been stolen in 1951

A woman claims to have bought this original painting by French impressionist Pierre-Auguste Renoir at a flea market in West Virginia, paying $7 for a box of trinkets (the painting was among them.) A federal judge ruled that the woman hand it over to a Baltimore museum, which proved it had been stolen in 1951

Then there was the bed found in a Manchester England hotel parking lot that turned out to be worth several million pounds. See my blog dated April 30th.

Or that Ingres masterpiece found in an attic in a hospital in France. See blog.

The newest ‘find’ was made by a Texas man named Ray Riley who spotted a ‘funny looking’ painting that may be just one of these miraculous discoveries again. Riley paid a paltry $90 U.S. for ‘Sigmar Polke’ that may be worth several millions if authenticated. And Mr. Riley better hope this one wasn’t stolen.

The signature was found on the inside of the frame of this piece.

The signature was found on the inside of the frame of this piece.

Sigmar Polke was a Polish artist who died in 2010. His work has had a resurgence over the past few years, with a retrospective of his work at MoMA this past year and a new record for his work set at auction in May this year when one of his pieces sold for $27.1 million at Sotheby’s New York.

The piece in question found by Mr. Riley, had been available for sale at the Guild Shop in Houston for 104 days when Riley, a regular visitor to the shop, pulled the trigger on the purchase on May 17.

When he took the work home, Riley removed the frame to examine his acquisition, and found the letters “S Polke” written on the corner.

Oddly the signature is on the frame on not the artwork itself.

Oddly the signature is on the frame on not the artwork itself.I don’t know about you but I don’t see an ‘L’ anywhere. Poke, not Polke is clearly displayed and all signatures that I’ve seen of this artist seem to contain the letter ‘L’. Anyway, I’m not a S. Polke expert.

“I got very nervous and started trembling” said Riley. “I ended up hiding the painting for a couple weeks. I’m talking to a guy in California who’s going to examine the painting and hopefully authenticate it.”

Ray Riley during an interview with ABC news.

Ray Riley during an interview with ABC news.

Best of luck to Mr. Riley. Authenticating is difficult and arduous process. A truck driving woman has yet to prove she has an authentic Jackson Pollock that she bought in a thrift store about 15 years ago for $7. It had the potential if authenticated of bringing her at auction around $40M dollars. To this day, Pollack experts deny it’s authenticity even with overwhelming evidence.

Hopefully Mr. Riley has a better outcome.

Thanks for reading.

Mark LaFleur
The Antique Warehouse
226 SW Marine Drive,
Vancouver, BC

Visit our website

July 14th ‘Bastille Day’. Not a Celebration for Everyone in France.

“Is this a revolt?” asked Louis XVI to the Duke of Rochefoucauld, to which he replied:
“No Sire, THIS is a revolution.”

Duke de Rochefoucauld C.1790.

Duke de Rochefoucauld C.1790.

King Louis XVI would be dead in less than 6 months later.

King Louis XVI would be dead in less than 6 months later.

Rochefoucauld, one of King Louis XVI’s most trusted counsellor pronounced those ominous words on July 12, 1789. Two days later, the royal fortress of Bastille,a symbol of despotism, was attacked marking the beginning of the French Revolution. Only 7 people were jailed at the Bastille at the time making it less of an ‘event’ but certainly symbolic nevertheless.

The tide of patriotic fervour led to the ‘Declaration of the Rights of Man’ and of the Citizen. “Men are born free and remain free and equal in rights.” Nations around the world modelled their bill of rights after this now universal sentence. It’s little wonder that France’s national holiday, le quatorze juillet (14th of July), is world famous.

Every year, since 1880, Bastille Day’s notoriety is matched by festivities and pomp honouring the republic to the rhythm of the national anthem ‘La Marseillaise’.

The storming of the Bastille freed all the prisoners on July 14, 1789.

The storming of the Bastille freed the prisoners on July 14, 1789.

But not everyone shares quite the same opinion of Bastille Day. It all depends who you talk who.

I’ve spoken to French, particularly upper echelon Parisians, who think Bastille Day is an unfortunate event in the history of France and that in fact, symbolizes a change in France for the worse. The day when the elegant society people of France were sent scurrying for their lives and the lower class seized control.

The royal Flight to Varennes during the night of 20–21 June 1791 was a significant episode in the French Revolution during which King Louis XVI of France, his wife Marie Antoinette, and their immediate family attempted unsuccessfully to escape from Paris in order to initiate a counter-revolution at the head of loyal troops under royalist officers concentrated at Montmédy near the frontier. Their escape only led them as far as the small town of Varennes, where they were arrested after having been recognized at their previous stop in Sainte-Menehould.

The royal Flight to Varennes during the night of 20–21 June 1791 was a significant episode in the French Revolution during which King Louis XVI of France, his wife Marie Antoinette, and their immediate family attempted unsuccessfully to escape from Paris. Their escape only led them as far as the small town of Varennes, where they were arrested after having been recognized at their previous stop in Sainte-Menehould.

In fact, one such Parisian went so far as to tell me that Bastille Day was the day King Louis XVI was beheaded, and not a day for celebration at all. He got his dates mixed up. King Louis XVI execution was a sad day, particularly for King Louis and his family, but it didn’t take place until January of the following year.

On January 20, 1793, the National Convention condemned Louis XVI to death, his execution scheduled for the next day. Louis spent that evening saying goodbye to his wife and children. The following day dawned cold and wet. Louis arose at five. At eight o'clock a guard of 1,200 horsemen arrived to escort the former king on a two-hour carriage ride to his place of execution. Accompanying Louis, at his invitation, was a priest, Henry Essex Edgeworth, an Englishman living in France. Edgeworth recorded the event . A complete and sad narration of the entire event is recorded for posterity.

On January 20, 1793, the National Convention condemned Louis XVI to death, his execution scheduled for the next day. Louis spent that evening saying goodbye to his wife and children. The following day dawned cold and wet. Louis arose at five. At eight o’clock a guard of 1,200 horsemen arrived to escort the former king on a two-hour carriage ride to his place of execution. Accompanying Louis, at his invitation, was a priest, Henry Essex Edgeworth, an Englishman living in France. Edgeworth recorded the event almost word for word.

When you consider some of the facts above, and the 10 year bloody revolution that occurred after Bastille Day, it’s understandable why some Parisians are not as enamoured with Bastille Day as others. This ‘Reign of Terror’ as it’s commonly known was responsible for more than 40,000 deaths.

But even more than that, France has become a country full of desperately unhappy people.

The freedom and equality of all men and women, the basis of the French Charter of Rights, is what every Westernized society aspires to. But to many French this is not the reality of life at all. There are still distinct class systems, laws to oppress and a bloated inefficient government bureaucracy that is taxing everyone to death, causing another ‘quiet revolution’ as the super rich French flee in droves to become ‘non-residents’ of France.

But almost all French, what ever their status in life, love holidays, and Bastille Day is just another event in the long string of holidays that seem to occur almost every weekend in France.

Most Parisians I know will disappear for the holiday (this year it’s four days). Or if they remain in Paris, they’ll have an elegant little Champagne sipping cocktail party (only if they have a terrace with a view of the Tour Eiffel) where they can view the event and the masses below.

The fireworks are spectacular. The French really go all out. The fireworks are also paired with wonderful music, projected images on the Eiffel tower and more. It’s quite something to experience.

A shot of the spectacle taken from the Champs des Mars directly in front of the Tour Eiffel.

A shot of the spectacle taken from the Champs des Mars directly in front of the Tour Eiffel.

If you’re super pumped about fireworks you can join the 500,000 or so Parisians, tourists and suburbanites that have jam packed the Champs de Mars for a front and center view of the whole thing. It’s a gong show with people recording, snapping iphones, drinking way too much, and yelling and screaming. It’s not really my thing.

The crowd at the Champs de Mars is already jammed before the sun has even set. People pack food, alcohol and more and sit for hours waiting for the event.

The crowd at the Champs de Mars is already jammed before the sun has even set. People pack food, alcohol and more and sit for hours waiting for the event.

Anyway, if you’re Parisian and lucky, you’ll be able to leave the sizzling baking streets of Paris for the Bastille Day holiday and head to relaxing retreats such as a country house, either as owner, renter or guest of, or one of the many beach resorts, or simply just out of Paris to a nice hotel in the country. But if you haven’t booked literally months ahead, anything good is already gone.

A summer rental in Carcasonne France can rental from 390E a week to 1400E depending on the number of people in your party.

A summer rental in Carcasonne France can rent from 390E a week to 1400E depending on the number of people in your party.

No smart Parisian will ever leave on the Friday afternoon before Bastille Day. It’s a mass exodus that can take literally hours. There are some of the worst traffic accidents of the year that occur on the super highways of France during this period. Accidents that can literally have the highways blocked leaving Holidaying French people stranded for literally hours and hours. It’s what the French call a ‘couchemar’ or nightmare. I know, we’ve been stranded like this before.

Photo of one of France's main highways the A-7 on a holiday weekend.

Photo of one of France’s main highways the A-7 on a holiday weekend.

For some Parisians, this ‘holiday’ signifies the beginning of the summer holidays which will last well into September. They literally shut off their cel phones, and relax for over 6 weeks. For the more well heeled Parisians, they’ve already shut off their phones since the middle of June. I’m quite serious, you cannot get ahold of anybody and business, other than retail, grinds to a halt.

I always used to say “I’m going to Canada for the holidays” which for some Parisians (that didn’t realize I was Canadian) would generate an “Oh Genial” which translated means something like ‘Oh how great’!

All French love and adore Canada and Canadians. They think we’re the nicest people in the world and will go on endlessly about Montreal or Lake Louise. I guess when you compare us to just about anyone else, we are pretty special. I think that’s one of the reasons I’ve been able to foray myself into interesting social circles. I’m kind of exotic, like an imported car, and my accent (which I thought was perfect French until a Parisian laughed and assured me it wasn’t) is apparently adorable. :)

And of course, where else in the world is nicer than Vancouver in the summer. Maybe Capri, or Il de Re, but even then, Vancouver’s pretty hard to beat.

The beaches of Il de Re...I guarantee you none will be deserted like this during this Bastille Day celebrations.

The beaches of Il de Re…I guarantee you none will be deserted like this during this Bastille Day celebrations.

If you’re visiting Paris and want to experience Bastille Day here is the following agenda for this July 14, 2015.

The July 14th military parade will be the highpoint of the national holiday ceremonies. The parade will highlight the regiments of the French military, which will start in the morning at 10 am on ave. Friedland and an address from the President of France.

The Bastille Day Parade down the Champs Elysees in Paris.

The Bastille Day Parade down the Champs Elysees in Paris.

Firemans Ball- The Sapeurs et Pompiers of Paris have evening Balls at each and every fire station in Paris and the surrounding areas. I actually bought a ticket from a fireman just the other week as I thought it was for charity, until I discovered it was an invitation to a ball.

The fireman of the 'Auteuil' district of Paris near where I live. To all the ladies out there, the firemen of Paris are reputed to be among the most handsome anywhere.

The fireman of the ‘Auteuil’ district of Paris near where I live. To all the ladies out there, the firemen of Paris are reputed to be among the most handsome anywhere.

And then there’s the fireworks display at the Eiffel Tower. It’s guaranteed to be a show stopping event. Have a look at this You-Tube link if you like, to see it in person. This is the 2009 display which I saw that I thought was the most interesting. It was the first time they’d ever implemented the use of laser projectors. The effect was dazzling. (Please note, this is part 2 of the entire evening and was just the prelude. It hadn’t even got dark yet. That’s when the sky really exploded!)

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ntmwWLxG2TM

Here is a video of this years celebrations which took place last Tuesday.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8rXLCz9tHvA

Happy July 14th to all my friends in France.

Thanks for reading.

Mark LaFleur
The Antique Warehouse
226 SW Marine Drive,
Vancouver, B.C.

Please visit my website

What IS the Perfect Parisian Dinner?

I was recently reading a blog written by an English person (when I say English I mean English as in U.K. English) who claimed to be an expert on entertaining the Parisian way. Her comments on how to throw the perfect Parisian dinner party had me amused because I was quite sure she’d never actually dined at any Parisians house but did a whole lot of reading and research to compose her article.

She went on to explain that for the first course would be a pate, or a course of sliced meats, or oeufs mayo, (a dish with hard boiled eggs and small cornichons or pickles) then followed by the main course consisting of a meat or fish and two vegetables, followed by a selection of cheeses and then a dessert. She’s half right. But not exactly. I can’t remember the last time I was ever served a fattening pate like that. Most young Parisians are not so crazy about pate any more.

'Ouefs Mayo'. In the over 40 years I've been coming to Paris, no one's ever served me this.

‘Ouefs Mayo’. In the over 40 years I’ve been coming to Paris, no one’s ever served me this.

I’ve seldom been to a Parisian dinner that had all that food. Why? Because the French are fanatics about their weight. It’s always a topic of conversation and it’s usually about how fat they are and how they need to do more exercise, and of course, they’re rake thin. In comparison to North Americans, they look positively gaunt. It’s about at that time I look down at my waist and immediately turn red. And then one of my more amusing friends will give me a tiny poke in the stomach and make a comment on how I need to do more jogging. Great, thanks. I’m aware.

A typical 'overweight'' Parisian. Seriously, I've seen thinner.

A typical gorgeous slightly’overweight’ Parisian. Seriously, I’ve seen thinner. I had a female friend visit me from Vancouver and after walking around Paris for an afternoon refused to leave her hotel until she lost 10 lbs.

The smouldering good looking typical Parisian man usually with a cigarette hanging out of his mouth.

The typical smouldering Parisian man usually seen with a cigarette dangling out of his mouth. None of them have shaved heads, baggy jeans, tattoos or ‘Dad bods’..not even the elderly. And no one, not any Parisian at least wears baseball caps.

Any Parisian dinner party I’ve been invited to starts with cocktails and alot of blabbing for a good 2 hours before dinner. Usually champagne is served but other alcohol is also offered. Everyone usually takes a coupe de champagne and the men will have their scotches or Pastis or some other liquor. If you want to be loved by your host and hostess bring a bottle of Ruinart Champagne as a gift. They adore it, and consider it very special. If you want to be considered an unknowledgeable tourist you can spend more and buy Dom Perignon but they’ll think you’ve spent too much money for nothing.

Ruinart was established as France's first champagne in 1729. In fact, it's the oldest Champagne producer in the world.

Ruinart was established as France’s first champagne in 1729. In fact, it’s the oldest Champagne producer in the world.

For appetizers they may serve exotic olives, bulots (tiny crustacean like snails), charcuterie, melon, crevettes grise (tiny shrimp) nuts, small crackers. (One of my more ambitious Parisian friends bought ‘bulots’ live and slowly boiled them for 50 minutes then hand made a garlic mayonaise with saffron that was to die for.) As most invitations are made for 8 pm, it’s around 10 pm before anyone is actually seated at the table. If dinner ends before midnight it’s considered a bore.

Serve these! I've never seen then in Vancouver though. If anyone has, please let me know!

Serve these! I’ve never seen then in Vancouver though. If anyone has, please let me know!

Then the dinner is served. It’s usually a meat, fish, poultry and a salad or potato to accompany. That’s when my asparagus or broccoli will make it’s appearance as an afterthought for the “health conscious Canadian guy.” They always think I’m weird wanting an actual vegetable served with dinner. They may, but not usually, serve ‘Haricots Vert’ (Green beans) but you’re lucky to get that. In fact I brought broccoli just last nite for dinner, they cooked it, but forgot to serve it.

The host and hostess will always pour copious amounts of both red and white or rose wine (if summer). Always the best they can afford. Wine’s are very important with dinners and the conversation will always include how wonderful the wine is and where it’s from. And it better be good or they will vocalize their displeasure (discreetly of course) at being served an inferior wine and simply won’t drink it. I never make this mistake. I have my special wine vendor that has never failed in picking just the perfect wine for the meal and budget I present. I would be highly embarrassed if my Parisian guests didn’t like the wine. It would completely destroy the dinner no matter what I had prepared or how beautiful it looked.

Then the cheeses are served, whereby many people refuse. They’re stuffed after their postage stamp sized main course. One of my favorites is Mont D’Or. It’s a lovely creamy cheese that’s usually baked, melts like crazy and is scooped up with bread. Absolutely delish. That’s usually served with a simple green salad with an oil and vinegar dressing. One of the favorites among my friends is a creamy chevre (goat cheese) that melts like brie cheese. It’s absolutely wonderful, in taste and texture.

A Mont D' Or cheese is wonderful. However, the real gourmand will serve a selection starting with the mildest to the strongest. All arranged in order of taste.

A Mont D’ Or cheese is wonderful. However, the real gourmand will serve a selection of different cheeses starting with the mildest to the strongest. All arranged in order of strength of taste.

Desserts are always appreciated and I like to bring one. My friends never ask me to, but they love my choice of desserts. I have a special Patisserie that I go to everytime. It’s in the 16th Arrond. and it’s relatively unknown. Sure you can go to Le Notre and pay double for the name ( the quality is very good there’s no denying it ) but my desserts rank just as good as Le Notres.

My favorite patisserie makes a pistachio and cerises griotte cake (tiny cherries marinated in liquor) which will make you pass out with it’s incomparable flavor! Every Parisian I’ve ever served it to sighs with pleasure at the taste. Unfortunately, no one has anything like it in Vancouver. They simply have no idea how to make it. I suggested it to French pastry shop in Kerrisdale and all I got were blank pretentious looks like I had no idea what I was talking about because they are the ‘real’ French patisserie and I should just get lost with my bourgeois Vancouver idea. It’s about that time that I might say ‘well I’ve had it in Paris’ just to set them in their place. Usually I don’t say anything and sigh at the reality that really wonderful French desserts can only be found in Paris. ( And some wonderful destinations in France )

Le Notres' Desserts are very good, but require no imagination to stop in a buy one. The French really love a 'discovery' that's off the beaten path. That's when they're really impressed with me and my desserts.

Le Notres’ Desserts are very good, but require no imagination to get one. The French really love a ‘discovery’ that’s off the beaten path. That’s when they’re really impressed with my ‘finds’.

After dinner is usually topped off with a digestif. Something like a Poire William or something to apparently help digest the food. I think it’s just an excuse to keep drinking. Larry always orders one and insists it works.

Poire William is made from pears and is actually called an 'eau de vie'. Water of life.

Poire William is made from pears and is actually called an ‘eau de vie’. (Water of life).

In actuality a successful French dinner party is like any dinner party anywhere. It’s the people you invite. If everyone’s laughing and having fun, your dinner is a guaranteed success.

I hope you enjoyed my insights into the Parisian dinner party. I’ve been to many over the years, and always love being invited and reciprocating. It’s a very special time in my life and I feel blessed to have the opportunity to experience it.

Thanks for reading.

Mark LaFleur
The Antique Warehouse
226 SW Marine Drive,
Vancouver, BC

Visit our website today.

Who was Francois Linke?

Just last week a piece by Francois Linke (pronounced Lank) showed up for sale in Vancouver. A piece like this is rare and if one has ever sold in Vancouver before it was before my time. It was a pretty commode, French of course, 20th Century, and most people would have thought it was nice, but had no idea of it’s market value. One discerning buyer, did. He paid close to $60,000 CDN for the piece.

19th Century French commode by Francois Linke commanded $60,000 Cdn.

This 20th Century French commode C.1920 by Francois Linke commanded $60,000 Cdn.

$60,000. Think he paid too much? No actually he got a deal. A piece by Francois Linke can sell for over a million dollars. Of course, this little commode has no where near that value, but it could easily fetch between 30 – 50% more on the global market. In fact the person that bought it will probably try selling it in New York at one of the big auction houses.

The marquetry and bronze mounts are very good on this commode from the Antique Warehouse but pales in comparison to a piece by Linke. However, this commode will only set you back about $3,000 and not $60,000.

The marquetry and bronze mounts are very good on this commode from the Antique Warehouse but pales in comparison to a piece by Linke. However, this commode will only set you back about $3,000 and not $60,000.

So why did this piece fetch so much money? Other than the fact the Francois Linke is considered one of the finest cabinet makers in the world, it’s the rarity, and the unsurpassed quality to detail that always separates a piece that is good from exceptional. Francois Linkes’ work is considered exceptional and among the best furniture in the world.

A desk like this by Francois Linke would probably sell in the $2M dollar mark.

A desk like this by Francois Linke would probably sell in the $1.5 – $2M dollar mark.

His marquetry is precise and wonderful, the detailing of his cast bronze ormulu mounts is exceptional, and each piece is beyond beautiful. As I’ve always said before, the value is in the details. How beautifully and detailed are the bronze mounts ( a sure sign something is special ), how original is the piece, is it signed, is it in original condition? All these things matter greatly when considering a value of a piece or whether to buy it or not. When you’re paying $60,000 for a French commode it better be signed, dated and exceptional.

Linke was born on 17 June 1855 in the small village of Pankraz, in what is now the Czech Republic. Records show that Linke served an apprenticeship with the master cabinet maker, Neumann, which he completed in 1877. Linke moved to Paris in 1877 and worked with several known cabinet makers. In 1889 the Paris worlds fair exhibition began and Linke decided he wanted to show at this prestigious event.

Paris world's fair included the creation of the Eiffel Tower. C.1890

Paris world’s fair included the creation of the Eiffel Tower. C.1890

Determined to outshine the competition at the Exhibition, Linke had set about creating the most ambitious pieces he could envisage, and more extravagant than had ever been displayed before. The items he exhibited marked a transition from the historicist interpretation of Louis XV and Louis XVI styles, an interpretation that was the mainstay of his nearest rivals, to something startlingly new and vital in its immediacy. Together with Léon Messagé he developed a new style for the 1900 Exhibition that paid homage to the Louis XV rococo in the fluidity of its approach, but an approach fused with the lively flowing lines of the contemporary and progressive ‘art nouveau’.

A modern day representation of what Francois Linke's booth might have looked like.

A modern day representation of what Francois Linke’s booth might have looked like.

Linke impressed so many people at this fair, ( he gambled every franc he owned to set up his display ) that his reputation was born. He impressed the newly rich from countries like England, Europe, the Americas, Egypt and Japan and including; the King of Sweden, three visits from the King of Belgium, Prince Radziwill, the Prince d’Arenberg, the Comte Alberic du Chastel, Miss Anna May Gould, the American heiress, and the President of France Emile Loubet.

This risky endeavour was a resounding success, and with his reputation established, La Maison Linke became the pre-eminent furniture house until outset of the Second World War. The technical brilliance of his work and the artistic change that it represented was never to be repeated. His showrooms expanded into prestigious premises in Paris, in the Place Vendôme as well as the Faubourg St. Antoine where his workshop had been established. He embarked on many important commissions in the years up to the outbreak of the First World War, making and designing furniture for leading international industrialists and bankers. After the 1914-1918 World War, Linke undertook the extraordinary commission to furnish the Ras al-Tin Palace in Alexandria for King Fuad of Egypt, possibly the largest single furniture commission ever conceived, eclipsing even Versailles. Linke flourished and remained active until the middle years of the 1930s and died in 1946

The Ras-el tin Palace in Alexandria Egypt.

The Ras-el tin Palace in Alexandria Egypt.

Thanks for reading.

Mark LaFleur
The Antique Warehouse
226 SW Marine Drive,
Vancouver, BC

Visit our website!

Recycle Your Newspapers or Build and Furnish a House.

Calling all Hipsters! Here’s a repurposing idea that’ll get your beards and bowler hats spinning with excitement.

Ever wonder what to do with your newspapers other than putting them in the recycle bin? Try building furniture or even a house. It’s been done before, many years before. In fact in the early 1920’s.

The Americans are always doing something strange: from beer can houses to a foam and concrete ‘Mushroom House’. Look to some off beat American for an idea that no one else (including most Americans) would consider doing.

From the look of this guys stomach he drank every single one of those cans.

From the look of this guy he drank every single one of those beers.

Ever think a house built out of newspapers even existed? Oh it does. The infamous ‘Paper House’ began its’ creation in 1922 in Rockport Massachusets. It’s creator E.F. Stenman (a man who earned his money by designing a machine to construct paper clips among other things) began his ‘house’ in 1922 as a summer residence. The construction has it’s regular timber and beam construction but it’s the insulation and walls (including exterior) are constructed entirely out of recycled newspapers.

What I find particularly fascinating is all the interior furnishings are built with precision cut, tiny hand rolled varnished paper logs by the Stenman family. It took them 20 years of painstaking rolling, cutting, and varnishing each little log piece by piece.

I recently acquired a 'tramp art' picture frame constructed out of hundreds of little hand carved logs and worth several thousands of dollars. Each piece of the interior furnishings of this house is worth thousands to a collector of 'tramp art'

I recently acquired a ‘tramp art’ picture frame (which I love) constructed out of hundreds of little hand carved logs that turned out to be worth several thousands of dollars. Each piece of the interior furnishings of this house could be worth several thousands of dollars to a collector of ‘tramp art’

An interior shot showing the grandfather clock covered in newspapers and the piano.

The paper house still exists today in Rockport. Massachusetts as a museum. The design of the house is very’arts and crafts’. Typical of the period.

For the next twenty years, the Stenman family together (guess they never got out much) layered and and pasted and rolled approximately 100,000 newspapers to use in the creation of their two-room dream home. What started as an experiment in novel construction materials yielded paper tables, chairs, lamps, and bookshelves. In fact, the furnishings could be considered ‘tramp art’ which is now very collectable and rare. In fact, their value is probably worth more than the house itself.

An interior shot showing the grandfather clock covered in newspapers and the piano.

Stenman and his family lived in the house in the summers in the 20’s and 30’s.

The walls are made of 215 layers of newspaper. Most of the exterior layer type is completely readable, and ‘Paper House’ visitors can spend hours perusing classic headlines and snippets of articles.

There is a writing desk made from accounts of Charles Lindbergh’s transatlantic flight, and a radio cabinet plastered with news from Herbert Hoover’s presidential campaign. A real piano is covered with paper rolls.

The desk is really constructed of hundreds of rolled and varnished 'paper logs'. Can you imagine rolling and varnishing every one of those logs. I'd lose interest after rolling just one.

The desk as is every piece of furniture in the house, is constructed of hundreds of handrolled rolled and varnished ‘paper logs’. Can you imagine the patience involved in cutting, rolling and varnishing every one of those logs?

An interior shot showing the grandfather clock covered in newspapers and the piano.

An interior shot showing the grandfather clock covered in newspapers and the piano.

Stenman had originally intended to put up clapboards on the outside, but decided to leave the newspaper, just to see what happened. The result is still standing, still insulating, and “pretty waterproof,” according to the Paper House website.

The house wasn’t turned into a museum until 1942, after Stenman’s death, and after he had filled the interior with paper furniture. Everything inside the paper house is also made of paper, from the curtains to the chairs to the clock, save for two objects; a fireplace and a piano. Those are real, thoughtfully covered in paper. The fireplace is functional, though it is hard to imagine a fire on a cold night not ending in certain disaster in a house made of paper and varnish.

The walls of the paper house. Layers and layers of varnished papers.

The walls of the paper house. Layers and layers of varnished papers.

After nearly 100 years of exposure to the elements, the topmost layers of the walls are slowly peeling back, revealing bits of newspaper articles from the 1920s. Wanted ads (see photo above), recipes, news from Herbert Hoover’s presidential campaign, and headlines like “LINDBERGH HOPS OFF FOR OCEAN FLIGHT TO PARIS” can be discovered by inquisitive visitors. The walls are a timecapsule, one that can only be viewed and enjoyed in tiny, random bits. As time goes on, more of of the walls will peel away, offering an ever-changing glimpse into the past.

Recycled Newspaper House: Interior shot

Interior shot

The house is open to the public and curated (caretaken would be a better word) by grand niece Edna Beaudoin. Admission is $1.50.

If anyone makes it to Rockport Massachussetts and has a look please let me know. If I happened to be in the area I would probably pay it a visit.

Thanks for reading!

Mark LaFleur
The Antique Warehouse blog.
226 SW Marine Drive,
Vancouver BC Canada.

Please visit our website

Famous Playboys of the 60’s

For the upcoming Father’s day this Sunday, June 21, my blog revisits the swinging 60’s and looks at some of the famous playboys of the time. I’m not suggesting by any means that any of these men were great fathers, but they were men of notoriety and undoubtedly fathered children for better or for worse.

Initially the term ‘playboy’ was used in the eighteenth century for boys who performed in the theatre, and later it appears in the 1828 Oxford Dictionary to characterize a person with money who is out to enjoy himself. By the end of the nineteenth century it also implied the connotations of “gambler” and “musician.” By 1907, in J. M. Synge’s comedy The Playboy of the Western World, the term had acquired the notion of a womanizer.

Playboys of the 60's

One of the most powerful men in the Western world was also one of the greatest womanizers. Who knew ( at the time that is )

The term reached its full meaning in the interwar years and early post WWII years. Postwar intercontinental travel allowed playboys to meet at international nightclubs and famous “playgrounds” such as the French Riviera or Palm Beach where they were trailed by papparazzi (immortalized in Fellini’s La Dolce Vita) who supplied the tabloids with material to be fed to an eager audience. Their sexual conquests are rich, beautiful, and famous. In 1953, Hugh Hefner caught the wave and created the Playboy magazine.  Here’s our list of famous Playboys of the 60’s!

Porfirio Rubirosa - Playboys of the 60's

Porfirio Rubirosa died at the age of 56 crashing his Ferrari into a chestnut tree.

Porfirio Rubirosa
Nickname: “Toujours Prêt” (Always Ready)
Cause Of Death: Crashed his Ferrari 250 GT into a chestnut tree.
Nationality: Dominican
Occupation: To Sammy Davis Jr. “Your profession is being an entertainer. Mine is being a playboy.” Also rumored to have been a spy.
Wealth: Married three of the world’s richest women
Notable Women: Dolores del Río, Eartha Kitt, Marilyn Monroe, Ava Gardner, Rita Hayworth, Soraya Esfandiary, Peggy Hopkins Joyce, Joan Crawford,
Veronica Lake, Kim Novak, Judy Garland, Eva Peron, Flor de Oro Trujillo Ledesma, Doris Duke, Zsa Zsa Gabor, Barbara Hutton, Danielle Darrieux, Odile Rodin
Passions: Beautiful women, fast cars, polo
Age At Death: 56
Quotation: “Rubirosa was Cary Grant, Errol Flynn, Charles Boyer, Burt Lancaster and Tyrone Power all in one, and I was out on the town with all of them.” – Ertha Kitt
What To Learn From Rubi: If all of Paris refers to 16-inch pepper grinders as your last name, you can marry the richest woman in the world. Three times.

Sachs married Film Star Brigitte Bardot by proposing to her dropping 1000 roses from a helicopter on her home in St. Tropez  They were married 3 years. No children

Sachs married Film Star Brigitte Bardot by proposing to her dropping 1000 roses from a helicopter on her home in St. Tropez. They were married 3 years and had no children

Gunter Sachs
Nickname: “Sexy Sachs”
Nationality: German
Occupation: Claimed to have never worked a day in his life.
Wealth: Billionaire
Family: Mother was the daughter of Wilhelm von Opel. Father was Willy Sachs, sole owner of Fichtel & Sachs, a leading manufacturer of ball bearings, who committed suicide by shooting himself in the head.
Notable Women: Soraya Esfandiary, Anne-Marie Faure, Brigitte Bardot, Mirja Larsson
Passions: Photographer, author, industrialist, and latterly head of an institute that researched claims of astrology
Age At Death: 76
Cause Of Death: Suicide
Quotation: “The loss of mental control over my life was an undignified condition, which I decided to counter decisively.” (Sach’s suicide note)
What To Learn From Gunter: Roses won’t necessarily win over a lady like Bridgette Bardot, but a thousand, released over her home from a helicopter, might.
He had three sons from two other different marriages. No word on how their doing.

Gianni Agnelli was named by Men's magazine 'Esquire' as one of the five best dressed men in the history of the world.

Gianni Agnelli was named by Men’s magazine ‘Esquire’ as one of the five best dressed men in the history of the world.

Gianni Agnelli
Nickname: ”The Rake of the Riviera”
Nationality: Italian
Occupation: CEO, Principal shareholder of Fiat
Wealth: Richest man in modern Italian history. (Controlled 4.4% of Italy’s GDP, 3.1% of its industrial workforce, and 16.5% of its industrial investment in research)
Notable Women: Donna Marella dei principi di Castagneto, Pamela Harriman, Anita Ekberg, Jackie Rogers
Passions: Fashion, sailing, fast cars, skiing, horses
Quotation: ”Miracles can be made, but only by sweating.”
What to learn from Agnelli: Sprezzatura (“making the difficult look easy”). Esquire named Agnelli one of the five best-dressed men in the history of the world. He wore his wristwatch over his cuff, his tie askew and brown hiking boots under a bespoke suit, all of which appeared to be errors, giving the impression he did not care about the way he was dressed.

Francisco Pignateri slept only 4 hours a night and never put anything in writing.

Francisco Pignateri slept only 4 hours a night and never put anything in writing.

Francisco Pignateri
Nickname: “Baby”
Nationality: Brazilian
Occupation: Metals, President of Laminação Nacional
Wealth: Heir to one of the richest families in Brazil
Notable Women: Marina Parodi Delfino, Inga Lindgren, Dolores De Rio, Selene Walters, Nelita Alves de Lima, Linda Christian, Soraya, ex-Queen of Iran, Vikki Dougan, Tracey Morgan, Melissa Weston, Jorginho Guinle, Zsa Zsa Gabor, Helen and Ann Merrill, Joanna Moore, Karen von Unge, Barbara Cailleux, Jackie Lane, Lucinda Sherill, Susan Cabot, Miiko Taka, Tina Louise, Princess Ira Von Fuerstenberg, Kathy Bonn, Maria Regina Fernandes
Bold Move: After thoroughly enjoying Andy Russell’s crooning in New York, Francisco “Baby” Pignatari sent him a 155-piece silver and 24-carat gold dinner service set which arrived via plane along with two guards.
Passions: Cabaret crawls, fast cars
Age at Death: 61
What to learn from Baby: “Baby never put anything in writing. He’s the only person I know who gives a girl a diamond bracelet without a card. And he only gets about four hours’ sleep a night.” – Richard Gully, social secretary.

Eccentric Billionaire Howard Hughes. He had was a 'germaphobe'. I tend to have this disorder!

Eccentric Billionaire Howard Hughes. He was a obssesive compulsive ‘germaphobe’. Who can blame him in this world.

Howard Hughes
Nickname: “The World’s Greatest Womanizer”
Nationality: American
Occupation: Business magnate, industrialist, aviator, engineer, film producer, director, hotelier, philanthropist, CEO Trans World Airlines
Wealth: Billionaire.
Notable Women: Billie Dove, Bette Davis, Ava Gardner, Olivia de Havilland, Katharine Hepburn, Ginger Rogers, Gene Tierney, Joan Fontaine, Jean Peters
Passions: “I don’t think Howard could love anything that did not have a motor in it.” – Gene Tierny
Quotations: “I’m not a paranoid deranged millionaire. Goddammit, I’m a billionaire.”
What to learn from Howard: “Wash four distinct and separate times, using lots of lather each time from individual bars of soap.”

American President John Fitzgerald Kennedy.  Well known for his love affair with Marilyn Monroe.

American President John Fitzgerald Kennedy. I don’t know that the American public would have been as enamored with him had they known about his insatiable appetite for filandering. There was one thing for sure, JFK’s wife, Jackie knew all about it and was not happy a lady.

John Fitzgerald Kennedy
Nickname: “Prince of Camelot”
Nationality: American
Occupation: Naval Officer, Senator, President of the United States
Wealth: Kennedy estate valued at $1 billion
Notable Women: Judith Campbell, Blaze Starr, Jill Cowan, Pam Turnure, Marilyn Monroe, Gunilla von Post, Mary Pinchot Meyer, Mimi Beardsley Alford
Passions: Diplomacy, Military, Literature
Age at death: 46
Cause of death: Assassinated
Quotation: To UK Prime Minister Harold Macmillan “I wonder how it is for you, Harold? If I don’t have a woman for three days, I get terrible headaches.”
What to learn from Jack: Be a good friend and your friends will lie for you.

Alfonso de Portago claimed he'd die of old age before he'd ever die in a car crash. He died at age 29, of a racing car crash killing five spectactors along with him.

Alfonso de Portago claimed he’d die of old age before he’d ever die in a car crash. He died at age 29, of a racing car crash killing five spectactors along with him.

Alfonso de Portago
Nickname: ”The madcap marquis”
Nationality: Spanish
Occupation: race car driver
Wealth: heir to the household financial fortune
Family: Father Antonio Cabeza de Vaca died during halftime at a polo match at the age of 28. Irish mother Olga Leighton’s first husband, Francis John Mackey, shot himself while terminally ill. Among his ancestors were an explorer, a governor of madrid and a war hero.
Notable Women: Carroll McDaniel, Dorian Leigh, Linda Christian, Crystal Pretty
Passions: Airplanes, racing horses, racing bobsleighs, sailing, fast cars, skiing
Age of Death: 29
Cause of Death: with forty miles to the finish line at the mille miglia grand prix, Portago blew a tire on his ferrari going 150mph, causing the car to go into the crowd, killing five spectators, then veered back across the canal and caused the deaths of five other onlookers on the right side of the road. Portago’s body was found in two sections.
What to learn from Alfonso de Portago: Wear a seatbelt and go easy on the curve.
Quotations: “All drivers are naturally chasing women around.”

This 'playboy' smoked cigarettes and opium almost every day as well as never working a day in his life. He at least appears to love his children.

This ‘playboy’ smoked cigarettes and opium almost every day as well as never working a day in his life. He at least appears to love his children.

Alessandro Ruspoli
Nickname: “Dado,” “World Most Handsome Man” ( Not by that photo )
Nationality: Italian
Occupation: When asked why he never worked a day in his life, Ruspoli replied, “I never had time.”
Wealth: Mother was heiress to one of the largest fortunes in Brazil, died when he was 9.
Notable Women: Francesca dei Baroni Blanc, Nancy de Girard de Charbonnières, Debra Berger, Theresa Patricia Genest
Passions: Opium, world culture, poetry
Age of Death: 81
Quotation: ”I am a tree still full of fruit,” he liked to say, “when all around me I see so many withered vines.”
What to learn from Dado: Dado spent much of his life extolling the virtues of smoking tobacco and opium every day while condemning the use of heroin and cigarettes…

Prince Aly Khan and fabulous Rita Haworth were married in 1949

Prince Aly Khan and fabulous Rita Haworth were married in 1949. From all accounts it was a short tumultuous marriage.

Prince Aly Khan
Nickname: “The Love Prince”
Nationality: Pakistani
Occupation: Pakistan’s representative to the UN, vice president of UN General Assembly
Wealth: $800 million
Family: Son of Aga Khan III, the head of the Ismaili Muslims, and the father of Aga Khan IV
Notable Women: Rita Hayworth, Hon. Joan Guinness, British debutante Margaret Whigham, Thelma Viscountess Furness, Pamela Churchill, Gene Tierney, French model Bettina
Passions: Military, diplomacy, horses, fast cars. Owned 900 thoroughbreds at stud farms in Ireland and France
Age at Death: 49
Cause of Death: Crashed his Lancia head-on into an oncoming car en route to a Paris party. Chauffeur, who he’d asked to sit in the back seat, lunged forward upon impact and broke Khan’s neck.
Quotations: On marrying Hon. Joan Guiness: ”I had been involved with several women. I was tired of trouble. Joan was a sane and solid girl, and I thought if I married her, I would stay out of trouble.”
What to learn from Aly: Keep your chauffeur in the driver’s seat.

The beautiful daughter Princess Yasmine Khan, daughter of Rita Hayworth and the Prince Aly Khan. She cared for her Mother until the day she died of Alzhiemers'. I met her once and spoke of her terrible trials. Little did I know the same thing would happen to me about 20 years later.

The beautiful Princess Jasmine Khan, daughter of Rita Hayworth and the Prince Aly Khan. Yasmin cared for her Mother until the day her Mother died of Alzhiemers’. I met her once and we spoke of her famous mother and the heartbraking disease she was suffering from. Yasmine told me she had her Mom staying at her elegant townhouse in Southhampton New York, cared for by nurses and squirrelled away from cameras the public. This chance meeting inspired me to look after my own Mom in my own home until she died of Alzheimers four years ago.

The term 'In like Flynn' was derived from this man.

The term ‘In like Flynn’ was derived from this man.

Erroll Flynn
NICKNAME: ”Flynny”
NATIONALITY: Australian & Irish
OCCUPATION: Actor
WEALTH: One of Hollywood’s highest paid stars in the 1930s and ’40s
NOTABLE WOMEN: Lili Damita, Nora Eddington, Patrice Wymore, Beverly Aadland, Nell Gwynne
PASSIONS: Sailing, Drinking, Boxing, Sex
AGE AT DEATH: 50
CAUSE OF DEATH: Heart Attack
QUOTATION: (On deathbed, re: mistress) “Don’t let poor Nelly starve.”
WHAT TO LEARN FROM FLYNN: Beat two statutory rape allegations and the world will adopt a saying with your name. i.e. “In like Flynn.

Jorge Guinle was born into a fabulously weather Brazilian family. Died bankrupt.

Jorge Guinle was born into a fabulously weather Brazilian family. Died bankrupt.

Jorge Guinle
NICKNAME: “Jorginho”
NATIONALITY: Brazilian
OCCUPATION: Hotel and Port Owner. Family built and owned Copacabana Palace Hotel.
WEALTH: Born into what was once Brazil’s richest family. Mission was to spend as much of that fortune as he could, and died bankrupt.
NOTABLE WOMEN: Rita Hayworth, Lana Turner, Veronica Lake, Susan Hayward, Jane Russell, Marilyn Monroe, Jayne Mansfield, Kim Novak, Romy Schneider, Hedy Lamarr, Anita Ekberg.
PASSIONS: Author of the book “Jazz Panorama,” and helped finance some of the first bebop recordings in the 1940’s by musicians like Dizzy Gillespie, Charlie Parker, Max Roach, Thelonius Monk and Oscar Pettiford.
AGE AT DEATH: 88
CAUSE OF DEATH: Aortic aneurysm
WHAT TO LEARN FROM JORGE: Even billions run out sooner or later.

Thanks for reading my blog.

If you’d care to leave any comments or thoughts, please feel free.

Mark LaFleur
The Antique Warehouse
226 SW Marine Drive
Vancouver. BC

Visit our Website

Le Bal Orientale: The Greatest Party of the 20th Century

Many people of my generation sadly lament that elegance and glamor has all but disappeared and that society gravitates to anything shocking and distasteful. This seems to be the case, certainly since the advent of the Kardashians, Hip Hop Music, and artists like Anish Kapoor who recently erected the ‘dirty corner’ vagina sculpture at Versailles not to be outdone by the ‘Butt Plug’ ( I saw this one in person unfortunately) sculpture by American artist Paul McCarthy last Christmas in Paris.

This weeks blog is an attempt to help erase all of our 21st Century vulgarity and take us back to the past, to a style gone by and of people who have all but disappeared. To a time when glamor and elegance was defined by things that were truly beautiful.

The 'Dirty Corner' sculpture by Amish Kapoor symbolizing the Vagina of Marie Antoinette.

The ‘Dirty Corner’ sculpture by Amish Kapoor symbolizing the ‘Vagina of Marie Antoinette’. How charming…

We all love a great party. But there was a spectacular party given before most of us were even ovums. On September 3, 1951 a party in Venice went down in history as the greatest ‘social event’ of the 20th Century. The party ‘Le Bal Orientale’ was thrown by a colorful society man named Don Carlos de Bestergui at his fabulous Palazzo Labia in Venice, Italy. The party was such a success that it’s still talked about today.

The host, “Charlie” to his acquaintances (he had few friends) was the heir to a Mexican silver fortune, was born in France, educated at Eton, only visited his homeland twice in his life, and was considered highly eccentric in a period of high-profile rich eccentrics. He was overtly homosexual in his behaviour and mannerisms and yet his society female friends declared he was anything but gay. Their male counterparts had a completely different opinion. Any man who throws a party and appears in 16″ platforms is a little suspect.

Don Carlos (Charlie) de Beistegui. C.1951

Don Carlos (Charlie) de Beistegui. C.1951. From all accounts, not a very nice man.

A few years after the war, in 1948, Beistegui bought the Palazzo Labia for a song, and restored it, filling its rooms with the finest antiques and tapestries. Beistegui was known for his exquisite taste; in particular, for the greatness of the interiors and decorations of his houses Bestegui was influenced and inspired by the nonchalant ease and elegance of the great English country houses. He maintained, at various times, residences in New York, London, Paris and Venice). But it was here by candlelight, at the Palazzo Labia, that Beistegui threw the first big party after the Second World War, signalling the return to luxury living and an end to the austerity of the war years. (Flowers and other details were exactly recreated from eighteenth-century documents.)

The Palazzo Labia on Cannaregio Canal, Venice.

The Palazzo Labia on Cannaregio Canal, Venice.

One of the gorgeous dining salons in this fabulous Palazzo.

One of the gorgeous dining salons in this fabulous Palazzo.

1000 guests were invited and the ball was attended by the most famous artists, aristocrats and millionaires of the time.

The invitations went out 6 months in advance and created a social furor particularly among those that were not invited. Venice was in a ferment that year about the Beistegui Ball, wrote Clarissa Eden, wife of the British prime minister, Anthony Eden. People became frantic at not getting invitations. Some Americans arrived in their yachts and anchored at the Lido, waiting and hoping for an invite.

The Lido beach in Venice.

The Lido beach in Venice.

It was a hugely ambitious party. Beistegui’s initial thematic inspiration had been a painting in the Labia, a fresco by Tiepolo showing Antony and Cleopatra, and as party presences it was agreed that they would be represented by Baron Alfred be Cabrol and Lady Diana Cooper.

Paul-Louis Weiller, Madame Mallard, Lady Diana Cooper, Baron de Cabrol and Madame Hersent

Paul-Louis Weiller, Madame Mallard, Lady Diana Cooper, Baron de Cabrol and Madame Hersent

Le Bal Oriental was a throwback to the lavish Europe-based costume parties that had showcased the International Set between the war, and it was to have the magic of time capsule, preserving in photographs—such as those Cecil Beaton took for Vogue—of a lost time when in the countries of Western Europe the aristocracy truly ruled.

Other famous names included the Aga Khan, who was dressed as an Oriental potentate by the great theatrical designer, Oliver Messel, and who escorted a Princess Radziwill ( Jackie Kennedy’s sister), Orson Welles, whose costume had not arrived on time and who wore a curly blond wig and a tuxedo. Others included Gene Tierney, then an A-list star and American heiresses Barbara Hutton and Doris Duke. But my favorite, Vicountess Jacqueline de Ribes, (in my opinion the most elegant woman on the planet) was invited almost by a last minute chance meeting. Her aristocratic background and elegant swan like looks probably outshone anyone at the party.

Vicontesse Jacqueline de Ribes as photographed by Richard Avedon on her first trip to New York. She's been referred to the 'last queen of Paris'

Vicontesse Jacqueline de Ribes as photographed by Richard Avedon on her first trip to New York. She’s been referred to the ‘last Queen of Paris’

Gene Tierney as a French milkmaid was a giant Hollywood star in the 1950's.

Gene Tierney dressed as a French vendor was a giant Hollywood star in the 1950’s.

The arrivals of the bejeweled and bewigged guests were as important as their made-to-order costumes and drew considerable numbers of spectators, all anxious for a view. By ten in the evening, the canal in front of the Palazzo was congested with motorboats and gondolas. As floodlights emphasized the arriving guests, some Venetians peered down from nearby windows for a better look (neighbouring palace owners charged 80,000 lire per person for the privilege). (Source: The Big Party, September 17, 1951: time.com and the blog ‘coincidental dandy’)

A photo of guests arriving to the ball by Gondola.

A photo of guests arriving to the ball by Gondola.

Desmond Leslie, a journalist for Picture Perfect magazine, gives a descriptive account of the scene on the Grand Canal in this way: “When Don Carlos de Beistegui flung open the great doors of his exquisite Palazzo Labia, he found the Grand Canal already teeming with launches and gondolas overflowing with ladies and gentlemen faultlessly enlaced in glittering eighteenth-century costume; perukes, wigs, crinolines, and jewellery whose theft would embarrass any insurance company. Bowing elegantly to one another, the guests traipsed up a stately staircase lined with flunkies dressed in the original liveries worn at the Duchess of Richmond’s party on the eve of Waterloo, and assembled in the great painted ball-room, where on a high minstrels’ gallery an orchestra dressed to match the wall-frescoes played.” (Quote: Anderson, J., Tiepolo’s Cleopatra, 2003:165)

Don Carlos purportedly wore 16″ heeled shoes as to elevate his 5’6″ frame as he greeted guests as they entered the Palazzo.

The Venetian 'Ghosts' were people in costume on stilts.  Cecil Beaton did most of the photography during the party creating surreal images that appeared as if they were from the 18th Century.

The Venetian ‘Ghosts’ were people in costume on stilts. Cecil Beaton did most of the photography during the party creating surreal images that appeared as if they were from the 18th Century.

Guests of Le Bal Orientale

Guests of Le Bal Orientale

Evidently Daisy Fellowes a notorious English socialite who seduced Winston Churchill and ended up marrying his brother was the 'Belle of the Bal' dressed as the Queen of Africa with her nubian slave.

Evidently Daisy Fellowes a notorious English socialite who lived on a combination of morphine and cocktails, seduced Winston Churchill and ended up marrying his brother was the ‘Belle of the Bal’ dressed as the Queen of Africa with her nubian slave.

Christian Dior and Salvador Dalí designed each other’s costumes. Winston Churchill and the Duke and Duchess of Windsor were invited but did not attend. Many who would have liked to have been invited were not. Cecil Beaton’s photographs of the ball display an almost surreal society, reminiscent of the Venetian life immediately before the fall of the republic at the end of the 18th century. The “party of the century” launched the career of Pierre Cardin, who designed about 30 of the costumes. Nina Ricci was another designer who was involved. The party spilled out onto the courtyard with guests mixing with local Venetians. Madame Arpels of the famed Van Cleef and Arpels Paris jeweller was spotted dancing in the courtyard with a gorgeous shirtless Venetian youth. The party of course, went on until the wee hours of the morning.

Party guests posing for a photo.

Party guests posing for a photo.

Towards the end of the evening, the Aga Khan was quoted as saying, “I don’t think that we will ever see anything like this again.”
In 1960, Beistegui suffered a stroke and ceased to notice the details he had once been so meticulous about. After his stroke, Beistegui sold the Palazzo and disposed its priceless contents. He died in 1970 at the age of seventy-four, without a will.

Fast forward to 2015, ‘Les Ambassadeurs’, a group of ‘select’ 5,000 hip and gorgeous Parisians hold a party once a year by invitation only. (unlike Beistegui’s party these people pay for the privilege to a rather shady looking party promoter…). It is a colossal (for lack of a better term) ‘disco’ with gyrating half naked people smoking and dancing to ear drum shattering music. I was invited by friends a couple of years back but declined. Had I been around for Beistegui’s party and received an invite you rest assured I would have flown to Venice in a heartbeat.

Mark LaFleur
The Antique Warehouse
226 SW Marine Drive,
Vancouver, BC.

Visit our new collection from Paris.

Joan Rivers ‘French’ Apartment

Joan Rivers

The grande doyenne of comedy some people claimed. You either loved her or you didn’t.

It turns out the late Joan Rivers was just more than just a TV personality. She had a penchant for everything ‘French’. And when I say French, I mean over the top ‘Palace of Versailles meets a touch of Las Vegas’ French. With soaring 25 ft. ceilings, the over 6000 sq. ft. the apartment was undeniably spectacular. Whatever you may of thought about the famous Ms. Rivers, her apartment had some of most lovely French furnishings you could find outside of Paris. And from little I could tell from the photos, many of the pieces looked vintage or antique and not reproductions.

The 25 ft soaring ceilings are breathtaking in any space. Note all the French Bergeres armchairs and small commodes scattered about. Not crazy about the 'balloon valance". Does anyone really do those anymore?

The 25 ft soaring ceilings are breathtaking in any space. Note all the French Bergeres armchairs and small commodes scattered about. Not crazy about the ‘balloon valances”. Does anyone really do those anymore?

In this photo the designer mixes Louis XV and Louis XVI Bergeres along with commodes from the Louis XVI style. They appear to be the genuine French thing, although a little hard to tell from this small of a photo.

In this photo the designer mixes Louis XV and Louis XVI Bergeres along with commodes from the Louis XVI style. They appear to be the genuine French thing, although a little hard to tell from this small of a photo.

Today.com reported that the property went on sale in February of this year, but Rivers had listed the 11-room condominium off and on since 2009. Rivers’ daughter, Melissa, who inherited her $150 million estate, decided to put the home up for sale shortly after Rivers’ death, Today.com stated.

Joan Rivers faux finished ceiling is why is say Versailles meets Las Vegas.

The faux finished ceiling is a little ‘Vegasy’.

Located on East 62nd Street off Fifth Ave., the triplex is located in a limestone mansion, built in 1903 and originally owned by Gilded Age millionaires Alice and John S. Drexel, the Corcoran listing agents points out.

The building at 1 East 62nd Street built by Alice and John Drexel in 1903.

The building at 1 East 62nd Street built by Alice and John Drexel in 1903.

The apartment features a private elevator foyer, a ballroom and adjoining music room with 23-foot ceilings, gilded antique paneling and columns and five fireplaces, one of which is in the wood-paneled library. The home has four bedrooms and four-and-a-half baths with views of Central Park and the Manhattan skyline.

“It’s what Marie Antoinette would have done, if she had money,” said Joan when asked about her home in Manhattan.

Marie Antoinette would have surely had a beautiful $100,000 harpsichord rather an a just a  generic black baby grand in her 'grand salon'.  Note the gorgeous bombe commode off the the right. She also has a couple French Louis XV Bergeres in this photo.

Marie Antoinette would have surely had a beautiful harpsichord rather an a just a generic black baby grand in her ‘grand salon’. Note the gorgeous Louis XV bombe commode off the the right. She also has a several French Louis XV Bergere armchairs scattered throughout this photo.

If this was the Queen of Frances apartment a harpsichord like this would have completed the look.

If this was the Queen of Frances’ apartment a harpsichord like this would have surely completed the look.

“The lavish New York penthouse owned by actress Joan Rivers, who passed away last September following minor throat surgery, is a sumptuous residence full of gilded decor worthy of 18th-century France” said one reporter.

EXCLUSIVE - Joan Rivers home.  Evan Joseph/Landov
Measuring a total of 465 square metres (4650 sq ft) on three floors, the penthouse includes four bedrooms, four and a half baths, five chimneys, a music room and a salon and ballroom big enough to entertain 125 party people.

EXCLUSIVE - Joan Rivers home.  Evan Joseph/Landov

Nice bleached oak Louis XV armoire. Looks like a French production.

EXCLUSIVE - Joan Rivers home.  Evan Joseph/Landov

According to the financial channel, she once thought of trying to sell her penthouse for $29 million, but then reconsidered and decided to stay where she was.

EXCLUSIVE - Joan Rivers home.  Evan Joseph/Landov

EXCLUSIVE – Joan Rivers home. Evan Joseph/Landov

The $28 million pricetag, though it seems like a lot, is not all that much in New York terms, and in this case the home not only offers real estate value.

Joan Rivers' Penthouse for Sale

Whatever you may have thought of the late Ms. Rivers, there’s one thing for sure. She was larger than life. Some people despised her, some loved her. She will be missed by many.

Thanks for reading!

Mark LaFleur
The Antique Warehouse.
226 SW Marine Drive,
Vancouver, BC.

Visit our website

French Armoires…More Than Just a Closet.

In the past, Armoires were usually relegated to the bedroom of the house. In France, they’re still used just about everywhere you go. Of course, France is saturated with character homes that can date back several centuries still with the original furnishings intact. You’re guaranteed one of these beautiful Armoires in every bedroom of these residences if they were built before the 20th Century.

Typical South of France Maison.

Typical South of France Maison.

But Armoires in France aren’t restricted to houses or bedrooms. In French homes you’ll see Armoires used in any room where storage and decorative appeal is required. Like this photo below of an elegant Parisian apartment. Not only does it provide much needed storage but the decorative element is undeniable. (I also LOVE the floors).

Louis XV Style Armoire

The beautiful white distressed Louis XV style Armoire is not only decorative but a wonderful storage unit. We sell many Armoires at the Antique Warehouse.

Here in North America, buy a home or apartment and you’re almost guaranteed a built in closet. It may be the size of a postage stamp, but a newly constructed residence will always have one.

Although closets could occasionally be found in North America, they didn’t come into common use until after World War II. Today they’re viewed as a basic necessity, like indoor plumbing, and it can be quite a nuisance if you’re in an old house that’s missing one.

Not only do french armoires provide capacious storage and fantastic versatility, but their design impact is just what’s needed when you want to add some elegance and interest to an otherwise characterless room.

Painted French Armoire

A painted French armoire can give a lightness and a focal point of interest in any modern construction.

Not only does an armoire provide storage, but it’s a high-impact decorating tool. Although armoires were originally used in the 16th century for storing weapons (thus the name armoire, from the old French armarie), by the 17th century their use was expanded to include the storage of clothing and linens. This exemplary old French version is used classically in a bedroom. Its imposing presence grabs your attention and sets the tone.

Louis XV Painted Armoire

This beautiful Louis XV painted armoire is one of the nicest designs around.

And speaking of setting the tone, the elegant and ornately carved French Armoire can look sensational in a dining room. Paired with a French crystal chandelier the look creates a refined atmosphere that would make any hostess feel like she’s entertaining in Paris. You can put anything in those armoires, be it table linens, a bar, collections of dishes and crystal, a stereo playing cool jazz, classical or cool ambient tehcno.

Carved French Armoire

 

One of the nice things about these elegant pieces of furniture is that they are usually made to completely disassemble. (not always the case with Armoires from England) The doors lift easily off the hinges, the crown and base are usually separate pieces, and the sides and back will come apart in many sections.

Empire Armoire

the Empire armoire the man is taking apart for shipment to us will completely disassemble into about 10 or more pieces. You can see another armoire Louis XV in the background almost completely apart.

Small Armoires

Small Armoires look wonderful in the bathroom and provide much needed storage space.

Elements of Armoires can be used for a multitude of purposes. I personally took the doors off one armoire and replaced regular boring closet doors in an entry way in my home with a pair of walnut Louis XV doors. The look is fabulous and everyone remarks on their beauty. I didn’t refinish them either preferring to the leave the rich tonal qualities of the highly french polished walnut.

I found the below photo on the internet where a contractor had taken an armoire or buffet or French cabinet and created ‘cabinet facings’ in a kitchen. (see below). The look is splendid and rich!

Kitchen Cabinetry

Imagine the cost if you tried to have this custom made today.

In another example of adaptability, here an antique armoire has been expertly incorporated into bedroom closet storage. It definitely adds warmth and character.

Armoire Storage Closet

 

Storage Armoires

Look how much storage these armoires have. I’ve even retrofitted these pieces to fit big screen TV’s. This particular designer reversed the placement of the doors so they remain open and the decorative ‘fronts’ remain exposed.

Louis XIII Walnut Armoire

Look how interesting this Louis XIII walnut armoire looks in this modern environment. There’s no beams, crown mouldings, or chandeliers in this space. The interest and charm is created by the use of a few antiques.

Clearly armoires, be they French, English, Spanish or otherwise clearly have a multitude of uses. The idea is to decide where you’d like to incorporate these wonderful pieces into your home. Visit us in person or online and see the selection we carry here at The Antique Warehouse Vancouver. We ship anywhere!

Thanks for reading!

Mark LaFleur
The Antique Warehouse
226 SW Marine Drive,
Vancouver, BC

604-324-3661

email: [email protected]

Love Mahogany Antiques and Want to Update Your Look?

…you’re not alone! What’s not to love?  The deep rich tonal qualities, the gleaming French polishes, the elegance, charm and unequalled quality of yesteryear. Many people are updating their homes and either want to keep their antiques or have inherited beautiful pieces they simply love and do not want to part with.

As one interior designer put it: “throw some modern in the mix to keep it from looking like ‘grandma’s attic’. But beyond incorporating new or expensive pieces, there’s an easier solution that’s inexpensive and very effective. Paint!

Changing a paint color in a room can make all the difference. It can make your room look like a completely new living space. So what colors work with mahogany? You’d be surprised the choices you have. From French white to chartreuse, the palet is virtually unlimited. With so many people drawn to neutrals and greys, the darker the grey, the richer the look. Below are just a few ideas to show you how wonderful mahogany antiques look with today’s modern colors.

 

Traditional Mahogany Bed

 

I like blue marine, and whites. It gives such a fresh, almost beachy, nautical look. The above photograph captures that essence but rather than the pastel blue, I think I’d do the walls all white. I did see a photo where the designer had placed a chair rail around the room and painted everything up to it white, then navy blue from the chair rail up. The look was stunning.

 

Traditional Mahogany Rich Bed

 

White walls, always look fresh and make the mahogany antique furniture ‘pop’ as featured above.

 

Traditional Mahogany Dining Room

 

Greys are very very popular for this year. Every shade you can imagine from very dark grey to a lighter. But all greys should be rich and bold. Remember, you need plenty of light, either natural or otherwise if you’re going to make it work.

 

Traditional Mahogany Dining Room

 

I love the deep rich grey of this dining room and the ‘bordeaux’ color used on the Louis XV cameo backed dining chairs.

 

Traditional Mahogany Dining Room

 

Note the use of black, grey and white with the use of mahogany. The look is rich, elegant, and very modern.

 

Traditional Mahogany Dining Room

 

Chartreuse is very big and has been for the last few seasons. Personally it’s a little strong for me and I’d tire of it quickly. However, if you’re a fan, Mahogany antiques work beautifully with this color as shown below.

 

Traditional Mahogany Dining Room

 

 

Traditional Mahogany Furniture

 

The Pantone color of the year for 2015 ‘Marsala’ is a perfect compliment to mahogany furniture.

Marsala, the Pantone color of the year is dark, rich and elegant with Mahogany antiques.

Marsala, the Pantone color of the year is dark, rich and elegant with Mahogany antiques.

Whether in a flat or textured material, or with a matte or gloss finish, this highly varietal shade combines dramatically with neutrals, including warmer taupes and grays. Because of its burnished undertones, sultry Marsala is highly compatible with amber, umber and golden yellows, greens in both turquoise and teal, and blues in the more vibrant range.

For a lot of fun try the Sherwin William Paint Visualizer.

Mark LaFleur
The Antique Warehouse,
226 SW Marine Drive,
Vancouver, B.C.
V5X2R4

Visit our website

May Day in France

May Day (La Fête du Muguet, La Fête du Travail) in France is a public holiday to campaign for and celebrate workers rights. It is also an occasion to present lily-of-the-valley or dog rose flowers to loved ones.

French Culture - May Day Lily of the Valley

The tradition of offering lilies of the valley dates back to 1st May 1561, when King Charles IX of France received a lily of the valley as a lucky charm. He created the tradition when he decided to offer a lily of the valley each year to the ladies of his court.

King Charles IX of France C.1550

King Charles IX of France C.1550

What do people do?
People in many areas give bouquets of lily-of-the-valley or dog rose flowers to loved ones. This custom is particularly common in the area around Paris known as Île-de-France. Families with children in country areas get up early in the morning and go into the woods to pick the flowers. Individuals and labour organizations in urban areas sell bouquets of lily of the valley on the street on May 1. There are special regulations that allow people and some organizations to sell these flowers on May 1 without paying tax or complying with retail regulations.

Trade unions and other organizations organize parades and demonstrations to campaign for workers rights on May 1. People may also use these events to campaign for human rights in general, to demonstrate against racism or highlight current social issues.

Traditional May Day Parade in Paris

Traditional May Day Parade in Paris

May 1 is a public holiday. Post offices, banks, stores and other businesses are closed. Outside of tourist areas, restaurants and cafes may be closed. However, some stores in Paris, as well as at airports and railway stations and along major highways, may be open. Public transport service schedules vary depending on where one lives and intends to travel. Parades and demonstrations may cause disruption to traffic in the centers of large cities, particularly Paris.

Celebrate May Day here in Canada. Give someone you love a beautiful Lily of the Valley and explain “Oh, its a Parisian custom”. They’ll think you’re so international!

Happy May Day

Mark LaFleur
The Antique Warehouse
226 SW Marine Drive
Vancouver, B.C.

Visit our website

Historical Bed Dumped in Car Park Worth Over $40M Belonged to King Henry XVII

A four-poster bed which was dumped in a hotel car park and sold for £2,200 has been verified as once belonging to King Henry VII – and it could now be worth millions.
The intricately-carved ornate bed was left in the car park of the former Redland House Hotel in Hough Green, Chester, by builders who were renovating the property.
Oblivious to its true value and historical significance, the construction workers dismantled the piece of oak wood furniture and left it to be picked up by auctioneers.

Four Poster Bed of King Henry XVII

This four poster bed was confirmed to belong to King Henry XVII C.1495

It was snapped up for £2,200 in 2010 by Ian Coulson, a four-poster bed specialist from Northumberland who spotted the item, which was listed as 19th-century gothic revival, on the internet.
However, he was shocked when his new ‘Victorian’ purchase arrived and approached TV historian Jonathan Foyle with a suspicion that the bed was, in fact, the only surviving Tudor bed.
Since then, Mr Foyle has spent years trying to prove the artefact’s historical roots and has now revealed that DNA testing on the bed’s timber proved it once belonged to King Henry VII.

TV historian Jonathan Foyle

TV historian Jonathan Foyle, spent years trying to prove the beds age.

Foyle said tests confirmed it was European oak and of a sub-species ‘typical of the origin of the finest, slow-grown oak imported by the medieval elites’, with analysis of the historic paintwork proving its age.
‘Under the varnish, traces of late medieval decoration have been found,’ he said.
He has traced it back to 1495, when Henry VII went to Lathom in Lancashire to see the Stanley family, who had helped him to victory in the Battle of Bosworth in 1485.

DNA proved bed belonged to King Henry VII

Mr Foyle said DNA from the bed’s timber proved it once belonged to King Henry VII (pictured) and he traced it back to 1495, when Henry VII went to Lathom in Lancashire. Henry VIII may have been conceived in the bed

DNA proved bed belonged to King Henry VII

The bed was snapped up by Ian Coulson, a four-poster bed specialist from Northumberland, for £2,200 in 2010 after it was dumped in the car park of the former Redland House Hotel in Hough Green, Chester (above)

Foyle also discovered that the bed features an inscription from the Matthew Bible of 1537 – reading: ‘The stinge of death is sinne. The strength of sinne is the lawe’ – which was added after 1547, when England had a Protestant monarch.
The carving also features biblical scenes of Henry and his wife Elizabeth of York styled as Adam and Eve, and as Jesus Christ and his mother, the Virgin Mary and the figures are accompanied by medieval symbols of fertility, such as acorns, bunches of grapes and strawberries.
Meanwhile, scribblings in a Victorian furniture restorer’s diary suggested that the bed was at Lathom when it was damaged during a siege in 1644.
Mr Foyle said he had proved that the item was not the work of Victorian revivalists by reflecting on the Tudors’ belief that they had been chosen by God to save England from civil war.

Four Poster Bed of King Henry XVII

The bed features an inscription from the Matthew Bible of 1537 – reading: ‘The stinge of death is sinne. The strength of sinne is the lawe’ – which was added after 1547, when England had a Protestant monarch

He said the headboard showed Henry VII and his bride as Adam and Eve transmuted into Christ – adding: ‘It’s arguably the cradle of the English Reformation. ‘Look how the king and queen represent themselves as manifestations of Christ and Mary; it’s Henry VIII’s God complex in a nutshell.’

Four Poster Bed of King Henry XVII

The bed also features carvings of biblical scenes of Henry and his wife Elizabeth of York styled as Adam and Eve, and as Jesus Christ and his mother, the Virgin Mary and the figures of medieval symbols of fertility

Dr Foyle described the 15th Century artefact, which is considered one of the most valuable pieces of historical furniture in England, as ‘a complete national treasure’. He added: ‘Evidence suggests the bed was made for the Painted Chamber of Westminster Palace for the marriage ceremony at Westminster Abbey on January 18, 1486.’
Mr Foyle is backed by other experts, such as Diarmaid MacCulloch, professor of the history of the church at Oxford University, who described the rediscovery as ‘exceptionally important’.

The medieval bed is now reportedly worth up to £20million, although it is currently not up for sale and is instead on public display. It is part of the ‘A Bed of Roses’ exhibition at the childhood home of Anne Boleyn, Henry VIII’s second wife, at Hever Castle in Kent which also features a portrait of Henry VIII as a young man.

Hever Castle, where the bed is currently on display.

Hever Castle, where the bed is currently on display.

Mark LaFleur
The Antique Warehouse
226 SW Marine Drive,
Vancouver, BC

Please visit our website

Lost Masterpiece by ‘Jean-Auguste-Dominique Ingres’ Found In Hospital Attic in France

A painting by Jean-Auguste-Dominique Ingres has been found in the French province of Jura completely by chance, Le Monde, Frances’ top journal reports.

The piece is only the latest in a spate of “lost” masterpieces that have turned up in recent months sometimes to huge auction success ( A ‘Lost Leonardo da Vinci’ was found in a Swiss vault and a lost Gustav Klimt portrait was recently unveiled In Prague).

The discovery was made during an inventory conducted by Emmanuel Buselin, curator and advisor of historical monuments of the region, in the attic of the chapel of the former hospital Hôtel-Dieu, located in the town of Lons-le-Saunier.

The ancient former 'Hospital Dieu'

The ancient former ‘Hospital Dieu’

Buselin saw a huge canvas rolled and covered in dust and, intrigued, sat down to unroll it. A large Ingres masterpiece—measuring 4.30 meters wide by 3.40 meters high—depicting a Madonna with child and kneeling king, slowly unfolded before his eyes.

The painting, which dates to 1826, is thought to have been gifted to the town after Ingres completed it. It hung in the local church of Saint-Désiré.

Ingres gave the painting to this church 'Saint Desire'  in 1865.

Ingres gave the painting to this church ‘Saint Desire’ in 1826.

In 1936, according to the municipal archives, the church was refurbished and the painting stored in the former hospital, where it had languished forgotten ever since.

The priceless masterpiece is thought to be the long-lost second version of Ingres’s Le Vœu de Louis XIII (The vow of Louis XIII), which King Charles X of France originally commissioned from the Neoclassical master in 1820.

This fabulous masterpiece by 'Ingres' languished in the hospital attic for decades until discovered last autumn.

This fabulous painting by ‘Ingres’ languished in the hospital attic for decades until discovered last autumn.

Buselin’s incredible discovery took place last autumn, but it remained secret until this week in order to protect the artwork, which could not be safely removed from the old hospital immediately.

The painting is now being repaired in the conservation area of the Museum of Fine Arts of Lons-le-Saunier, where it is expected to be displayed once it is completely restored.

Lauren Bacall’s Manhattan Apartment

The legendary actress Lauren Bacall sadly passed away last year, and left behind not only a major on-screen legacy (including her unforgettable sultry stare), but also quite the impressive Manhattan apartment full of wonderful French antiques.

Lauren Bacall in 1945

Lauren Bacall in 1945

Her massive collection of antiques, art, furniture, and more went at auction on March 31 and April 1 of this year and commanded a cool $3.6M dollars. I watched some of the auction live, and was surprised to see a 18th Century French farmchair pull in $8,000 when here at the Antique Warehouse I would have priced it somewhere around $750. But that’s what happens when a celebrity name is attached. People get caught up in the ‘Hollywood’ glamor.

Lauren Bacall's Antique Luggage | Vancouver Antiques

Lauren Bacalls’ monogrammed Louis Vuitton Luggage brought in $37,500.

Her apartment was located in the legendary ‘Dakota’ home to famous celebrities like the late John Lennon. I visited the Dakota many years ago to visit the famous Yoko Ono just after John Lennon was shot. (She was dating a friend of mine shortly after John died.) But this blog is about Ms. Bacall whose contents went up for sale last Tuesday.

Ms. Bacall owned and occupied her elegantly proportioned apartment since 1961 when she picked it up the for $48,000. The 9-room spread was reportedly appraised just before he death at around $9,000,000 and current listing details show the three-bedroom residence has 3.5 bathrooms, five fireplaces, 13-foot ceilings, and approximately 100-feet of park frontage with half a dozen (or so) mahogany-trimmed windows with unobstructed views over Central Park. At $11,146, monthly maintenance charges aren’t unusually high for a building of the Dakota’s eminence and wattage but they certainly aren’t for the financially faint of heart, either.

 

The famous 'Dakota' building located in Manhattan on Central Park West

The famous ‘Dakota’ building located in Manhattan on Central Park West.

Double mahogany doors open to a roomy foyer with corner fireplace. The living room spans almost 700-square feet all by itself and the neighboring library has a park-side Juliet balcony.

Lauren Bacall's Manhattan Apartment | Vancouver Antiques

The living room alone was 700 sq.ft.

At the south end of the apartment, the master bedroom has one walk-in closet plus three smaller closets plus a deep bay window and a rather small bathroom. Two guest/family bedrooms flank the master bedroom. The larger has a walk-in closet and a puny private bathroom and the other is much smaller with a miniscule closet.

Lauren Bacall's Manhattan Apartment | Vancouver Antiques

The dining room with a French farm table and ladder back chairs, with a French buffet off to the side.

A service wing behind the dining room includes a large butler’s pantry, a deep walk-in closet plus several small broom closets, a small office, a (windowed) laundry room, a tiny (windowless) powder room and an eat-in kitchen with courtyard overlook

The contents of her apartment were auctioned off this month. From all reports this auction was an antique lovers dream. But you needed deep pockets to purchase anything from the sale. Things went for many times their actual value.

Lauren Bacall's Manhattan Apartment | Vancouver Antiques

The salon with an italian low table. (Probably a round table initially that has been cut down)

Lauren Bacall's Manhattan Apartment | Vancouver Antiques

Two vintage late 19th Century French posters with a blanket box or coffre and rustic farm table.

Lauren Bacall's Manhattan Apartment | Vancouver Antiques

A French farm table with English ladder back chairs, along with a ‘maie’, and large French antique poster

Lauren Bacall's Manhattan Apartment | Vancouver Antiques

A French coffre and French corner cabinet are featured in this photo.

Lauren Bacall's Manhattan Apartment | Vancouver Antiques

An Welsh dresser in featured along with a French poster in this photo.

Lauren Bacall's Manhattan Apartment | Vancouver Antiques

A Continental Bureau bookcase with a French office chair along with a mid century modern coffee table are in this photo. A French Louis XVI Desserte is peaking out to the extreme left of the photo.

Lauren Bacall's Manhattan Apartment | Vancouver Antiques

The master bedroom featuring a French bureau abbatant, French gueridon, French Armchair and syrian stool.

 

Lauren Bacall in 2014

Lauren Bacall in 2014.

Lauren Bacall died on August 12, 2014, at her longtime home in The Dakota. She was 89. Five weeks short of her 90th birthday. According to her grandson Jamie Bogart, the actress died after suffering a massive stroke. She was confirmed dead at New York–Presbyterian Hospital. Bacall was survived by three children, six grandchildren, and three great-grandchildren.

My next blog will outline some of the highlights of that massive auction that sold some very interesting pieces. Until then, Happy Easter or an equally Happy Pesach.

Mark LaFleur
The Antique Warehouse
226 SW Marine Drive,
Vancouver, BC
Canada.

Visit our website

Fabulous Rare Cars Found on Farm in France

If you’re a car lover (like my good friend Greg Griffiths), this story is something dreams are made of. Just last year, a treasure trove of 60 rusting classic cars were discovered in garages that had been left languishing on a French farm for 50 years. To a lover of cars it was like discovering King Tutankamun’s tomb. Their evaluation have been between $12M USD – $20M USD or more.

The haul of motors, which includes dozens of vintage sports cars, was found gathering dust under piles of newspapers in garages and barns on a farm in western France. Among the vehicles up for sale are a Ferrari once sat in by Jane Fonda and a Talbot-Lago previously owned by extravagant Egyptian King Farouk.

Talbot Lago T26 Cabriolet | Vancouver Antiques

This Talbot Lago T26 Cabriolet was once owned by Egyptian King Farouk, a former friend of my fathers.

The rare cars were collected from the 1950s to the 1970s by entrepreneur Roger Baillon, who dreamt of restoring them to their former glory and displaying them in a museum.

Rare Ferrari | Vancouver Antiques

The Ferrari on the left was driven by Jane Fonda and was found under a pile of newspapers.

However, Mon. Baillons’ plans were dashed as his business struggled, forcing him to sell about 50 of the vehicles.
Since then his collection has sat dormant in makeshift corrugated iron shelters and outbuildings on the farm.
Mr Baillon died about 10 years ago and his son, Jacques, who inherited the collection, died last year.

Mon. Baillon, Rare Car Collector

Mon. Baillon collected some of the rarest cars in the world.

Mr Baillon’s grandchildren had no idea of the extent of the collection, calling in car specialists Matthieu Lamoure and Pierre Novikoff of auctioneers Artcurial Motorcars to estimate its value.

“We started to discover cars and cars and cars. We were climbing on the cars to discover other cars and actually very interesting coach work, very interesting models. For us it was a fantastic day.” said Matthew Lamoure.

Sixty Baillon vehicles are on display at Paris’ Porte de Versailles exhibition centre for the 2015 Retromobile expo. And Novikoff says the collection is a unique restoration opportunity for buyers.

Pierre Novikoff, Artcurial motor cars specialist estimates: “The whole collection is estimated between 12 million and 15 million euros ($13,725,735 to $17,157,169 USD), but we hope to reach maybe over 20 million ($22,878,024 USD) would be good. Because really, it’s a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to buy restorable cars from the 40s and 50s.”

Classic car experts Matthiew Lamoure and Pierre Novikoff

Auctioneers and classic car expert Matthiew Lamoure and Pierre Novikoff were stunned to find this collection. “This sort of thing doesn’t happen often enough! I think, above all, you go into this profession for discoveries like this. Yes, this really is a treasure.” said Mon. Lamoure

They found a 1956 Maserati A6G Gran Sports with coachwork by prominent designer Frua, one of just three in the world, which is estimated to sell for just under £1million. But the auctioneers’ greatest discovery was that of a 1961 Ferrari 250GT SWB California Spider with covered headlights, which was hidden beneath piles of newspapers.

1961 Ferrari 250GT SWB California Spider | Vancouver Antiques

The auctioneers’ greatest discovery was this 1961 Ferrari 250GT SWB California Spider with covered headlights, which was hidden beneath piles of newspapers.
The car was previously owned by French actors Gerard Blain and Alain Delon, who was photographed in it with Jane Fonda and Shirley MacLaine, and is expected to attract attention from Ferrari collectors with an estimate of £9.5million

Only 36 of the particular model of Ferrari were ever made, including the one in the barn and another bought by actor Chris Evans in 2008 for an estimated £5.5million.

Rare Ferrari | Vancouver Antiques

French film heart throb of the 1960’s ‘Alain Delon’ is pictured here in the Ferrari with the iconic Jane Fonda.

John Collins, a Ferrari dealer Talacrest in Ascot, has spent the last 12 months trying to find the car, which he thinks could sell for £10million.

“I have known about the car for years and I was gutted when I found out about three weeks ago that an auction house had got it. Apart from a few people, not many knew the Ferrari still existed. It is a phenomenal car and the best barn find in more than 20 years. I am sure it will go for an eight-figure sum and I will be one of several people looking to buy it. It is really great – people are going to be fighting over it.” said Collins.

The Complete list of the collection is as follows:

Amilcar C6 berline, Amilcar CGS, Ariès coach, Auto Union cabriolet, Avions Voisin C15, Avions Voisin limousine C15, Avions Voisin C7 par Gallé, Ballot 8 cyl limousine, Barré torpédo, Berliet coupé chauffeur, Berliet Type VIGB 10HP Taxi Landaulet, Bugatti 57 Ventoux, Citroën Trèfle, Delage D6, Delage D8 coach, Delahaye 135 cabriolet Faget Varnet,

Delahaye Coupe Chapron | Vancouver Antiques

A completely restored delahaye coupe chapron.

Delahaye 135 coach Chapron, Delahaye 235 coach Chapron, Delahaye 235 coach Chapron, Delahaye 235 coupé Chapron, Delahaye Type 43 coupé chauffeur, Delahaye GFA 148 L, Delahaye Type 43 camionnette, Delaunay Belleville limousine VL8,

Facel Vega Excellence | Vancouver Antiques

A Facel Vega Excellence is one of the rarest cars in the world.

Facel Vega Excellence, Ferrari 250 GT SWB California Spider, Ferrari 308 GTS i, Ferrari 400, Ferrari Mondial 3.2L cabriolet,

Hispano Suiza 1924 H6B Millon Guiet Dual Cowl Phaeton | Vancouver Antiques

A restored Hispano Suiza 1924 H6B Millon Guiet Dual Cowl Phaeton

Hispano Suiza H6B cabriolet Millon-Guiet, Hotchkiss cabriolet, Innocenti S cabriolet, Jaguar type S 3.4 L, La Buire 12 A
Lagonda LG45 cabriolet, Lancia Thema 8.32, Lorraine Dietrich B3/6 plateau, Lorraine Dietrich B3/6 torpédo par Grumman, Lorraine-Dietrich torpédo, Maserati A6G 2000 Gran Sport Frua, Mathis cabriolet, Mathis FOH, Packard cabriolet Super Eight,

Panhard-Levassor Dynamic berline X77 | Vancouver Antiques

A restored Panhard-Levassor Dynamic berline X77

Panhard-Levassor Dynamic berline X77, Panhard-Levassor Dynamic coupé X76, Panhard-Levassor limousine X72, Porsche 356 SC ex-Sonauto
Renault AX torpédo, Renault Vivastella cabriolet, Sandford cyclecar 3 roues, Singer Cabriolet, Talbot Lago 11/6 cabriolet, Talbot Lago Baby cabriolet, Talbot Lago Baby cabriolet, Talbot Lago, Cadette 11, Talbot Lago coach, Talbot Lago T26 coach, Talbot Lago T26 Grand Sport coupé Saoutchik, Talbot Lago T26 Record coupé Saoutchik, Talbot Lago T26 cabriolet Saoutchik ex-Roi Farouk

Rare Car Collection | Vancouver Antiques

The collection sat dormant in make shift corrugated iron garages for over 50 years.

Rare Car Collection | Vancouver Antiques

The cars were collected from the period during to the 1950’s to the 1970’s by Mon. Baillon who intended to created one of the finest automobile museums in the world.

Rare Car Collection | Vancouver Antiques

The collection will be auctioned off in Paris next year.

Rare Car Collection | Vancouver Antiques

Some of the cars are so far gone it’s impossible to imagine that any could be restored.

Rare Car Collection | Vancouver Antiques

This early Delahaye Coupé Chauffeur from the Baillon Collection would once have been a magnificent vehicle. There’s still enough there for it to be perfectly reproduced by modern day artisans who can follow the template.

If you’ve a deep pocketbook and a love of classic collectable cars, this sale will take place next February 6 of 2015. But Canadian buyers beware, Canada Customs prohibits the import any cars from Europe, vintage or otherwise. I know, I already asked.

Thanks for reading!

Mark LaFleur
The Antique Warehouse
226 SW Marine Drive,
Vancouver, BC

Visit our website