Thursday, September 14, 2017

Wall to wall beauty and interest under your feet!!!

Chers Amis de L'Ecole du Bon Gout,         

 Bonjour d'Uzes!

 Every time I arrive in France after being away for two months in Louisiane, I am totally struck by the beautiful, diverse and always interesting flooring surfaces which abound in France seemingly everywhere!  

   Many French train stations have better flooring than most "upscale" houses in America!! 

It is probably the fact that here, beginning at least since Roman times, flooring has been a truly valued subject .  This was exemplified recently by complex pictorial marble mosaics floors ( circa 50 B.C.) excavated two blocks from my home where I am writing this blog! 

  It is good to realize that in any given interior we see the walls and see the ceiling, but we both see and actually touch the flooring which therefore automatically gives it a hierarchy in the impact of the experience of the room.   

  At Au Vieux Paris Antiques we offer a diverse selection of antique terra cotta tiles, aged re-edition stone slabs of various textures and colors, as well as the most amazing re-edition of parquet de Versailles I have ever seen.  

 Below are photos of a selection of just some of these materials, but a visit to our Pavillion Cote Sud flooring showroom in Breaux Bridge will give you a full on appreciation of these splendid materials!!      
 Merci Cordialment, Robert

Au Vieux Paris Antiques
1040 Henri Penne Rd.
Breaux Bridge, LA 70517

Marble mosaic flooring circa 50 B.C., recently excavated two blocks from my home here!

The sample showroom at Au Vieux Paris Antiques in Breaux Bridge.

 Rustic re-edition pave (cobblestone) which has a wonderful blend of colors which is great for driveways and parking areas.

Classic cream colored aged octagonal stones with black marble cabochons.

 An amazing re-edition of parquet de Versailles seen at the upper right corner, superimposed on 18th c parquet.

One selection of our several species of re-edition hand aged stone flooring ranging in various colors and textures.

Antique "yellow" terra-cotta tiles.

Antique "red" terra-cotta tiles.

Old Heritage Beige with its deep texturing  is ideal for pool side, outdoor walks and patios where wet conditions would ordinarily produce a slippery surface on many materials.

Re-edition Barr de Bourgogne is a favorite because of its gently varied warm colors and textures.   

One re-edition panel of parquet de Versailles superimposed on an 18th c floor.

Tuesday, September 5, 2017

The Fireplace: A magnet for the eyes!!

Chers amis de L'Ecole du Bon Goût 


Walking into any room for the first or the thousandth time, the eye is naturally drawn immediately to look at the fireplace.  It is like meeting a person: you look directly at their face to start with, no matter if it is the first meeting or not. 

  Therefore the fireplace has a lasting impact on the decor and experience of any room which is usually greater than any single piece of furniture or art work in the room. 

 In my opinion each room of any consequence demands a fireplace even if it is installed without the possibility of using it for a wood burning fire.   

 In the recent July shipment there were some great fireplace mantles in both marble and wood.  

See below photos of mantles in finished installations, as well as those that recently sold, along with a selection of some of the mantles currently available.

  Plan a visit in person or visit the website at to see fireplace mantles as well as an across the board sampling of the antiques available! 

 Merci Cordialement,

 Robert E. Smith

Au Vieux Paris Antiques
1040 Henri Penne Rd. 
Breaux Bridge, LA 70517 

Classic Régence  mantle seen in the "new" decorative arts rooms of the Musee Louvre.   

Louis XIV mantle in "Rouge de Rance" marble with faux marble and antique mirror trumeau above.

Classic Provencal Louis XV mantle in walnut. (for sale)

Louis XV mantle from Avignon in "King of Prussia" marble. 
(For sale)

Directiore mantle in "Blue Turquin" marble with rare detached columns. (for sale)

Classic Louis XVI mantle in "Blue Turquin" marble.
(for sale)

Louis XIV style mantle of "Rouge de Rance" marble of a particularly nice color and veining. (for sale)

Charles X mantle in Vert Campan marble (Sold)

Régence mantle in "Gres de St. Anne" marble with particularly nice veining. (Sold)

Louis XIV style mantle with extreme veining and "boudin moldings" in Arabescato marble. (sold) 

Régence mantle in "Rouge de Rance" marble surrounded by reused Régence boiserie and Parquet de Versailles flooring. All sourced from Au Vieux Paris Antiques. 

Thursday, January 26, 2017

New Website!!

Chers Amis de L'Ecole du Bon Gout.   


  After months of work, I am pleased to announce, our new 
Au Vieux Paris Antiques website is "up and running".

    Besides lots of general information about the shop, you can find photos showing not just the very tasty merchandise available today but sumptuous photos of the interiors of "satisfied customer's homes". 

   It also contains articles from magazines and books featuring the Henri Penne complex of gardens, buildings and interiors. 

  You can now navigate to see what Au Vieux Paris Antiques has to offer and visit our archives of ten years of the "L'Ecole du Bon Gout" blogs, addressing a wide range of tasty subjects, plus links to our Instagram and Pinterest sites, right from our website!

So give yourself a real taste treat and click on the sign below to visit the new website!

Merci Cordialement,  

Robert E Smith
1040 Henri Penne Rd
Breaux Bridge LA, 70517

Tuesday, January 10, 2017

Phoenix Rising from the ashes!!

Bonjour et Bonne Année!

 In this season of rebirth and renewal, I write
today of a "phoenix" that has risen from the ashes more than once!

This phoenix is the C. 1830 "maison de Dimanche" or Sunday house, now on the grounds of Au Vieux Paris Antiques. I found it melting back into the earth in St. Martinville in 1981.

Even before I found it, the house had already undergone a move around 1845 from the front of its lot on the corner of Bridge and Pinot streets to the rear of the lot, where it was "downgraded" to become an outdoor kitchen for the "new" house built in its former location.

Originally it was probably what we would call today a weekend house for someone who had a large house out of town.  In the 18th and 19th centuries if you came into St. Martinville (known as "Petite Paris "SVP"!!) for shopping and the opera house on Saturday or church on Sunday, and it rained, you could not travel the mud roads back home to the surrounding countryside. Therefore if you could manage to have a "maison de Dimanche" in town, this common problem was solved with a nice degree of luxury.

Court house records indicate the house was sold in 1831, shortly after it was built. The document that states the description of the lot also mentions "la petite maison". When I first found this little gem of early Louisiana architecture, I thought it was constructed by Alexandre DeVince Bienvenu, but further courthouse research relieved that the original owner married a "house builder" by the last name of Rogers which leads me to the belief he built this house. However it does have many architectural elements which are exactly like those used in M. Bienvenu's, most well documented project "Lady of the Lake Plantation" built in 1827 between St. Martinville and Cade. This treasure was tragically destroyed in 1976.

  After politely pestering the owner for 14 months, he sold 
me the structure in the spring of 1983. The first thing I did was 
to bring in some carpenters to shore up and connect together the 
major sagging elements.  After it looked a little more stable and presentable, I had a house mover come to see it and fortunately he was not intimidated by its condition and agreed to move it.The move went without a problem and to my surprise was conducted completely in French!!!

  Next was the reconstruction and restoration. This was an extensive amount of work to say the least, but all was done and I moved in December 1983. I very much enjoyed living in this little house even though, Au Vieux Paris Antiques had not taken over all of the neighboring c.1820 Henri Penne house as it has today.

  On August 26 1991, during hurricane Andrew, a tornado came marching down the driveway and tossed an enormous water oak tree down on this little house with me in it !!!! As you can see in the attached photos the damages were certainly serious, however if the tree had not hit exactly dead center on the solid brick double center chimney, which acted as a strong column, it would have smashed through the structure down to the ground with me crushed in the middle!!!! As it is the bed I was in when this happened ended up holding up the ceiling with its bed posts!! Again a serious restoration took place and I moved back in the winter of 1991.

  Next in about 2011 the roof needed changing "again" as well as much general replacement of the rotten wood steps, porch flooring etc. We do live in humid Louisiana after all!

  The last trauma was the flood of August 2016!! This brought one and a half inches of water above the floor which had "little" results except the destruction of the a/c duct work and some electrical rewiring.

So as you can see from this written story and my photographs, this
"phoenix" has weathered a lot of destruction but has rebounded each time rising from the "ashes" to go on to a renewed life once again.

If you would like to see the 1991 "Southern Accents" article about the "Maison de Dimanche", Please click HERE. (Photography by Tina Freeman and Text by Lindsay Heinsen).

May 2017 be a year of endings and new beginnings of renewed life for all!

Merci Cordialement,  
Robert E. Smith

The "Maison de Dimanche" today.

"Before photos" Yes, it took a vision and a leap of faith!

Lower picture on the right shows the house at it's current Henri Penne location after a few months of work.

"Humpty Dumpty was back together again" December 1983

 Tornado damage of hurricane Andrew, seen after the huge water oak tree was removed. August 1992

December 1992, back together again

Hurricane Andrew's tree removal program did create a nice sunny spot for a vegetable garden. 

The interior is furnished with a mix of early Louisiana furniture in cherry, walnut, mahogany or mulberry, while the painted, upholstered seat furniture is of french manufacture.


Note the "faux marbre" finish of the original cypress mantle, which for a time from c. 1845 to 1983 had migrated to the "new" house built on the same lot. 

French made early 19th c. decorative objects are like those known to have been handed down in plantation families and would have come to Louisiana when new.

The overall look of the interior is Louis XVI transitional to Directiore. 

In the bedroom you can see a similar fireplace mantle of "faux marbre" cypress.

Above the mantle is a portrait of the architect and builder Alexandre Bienvenu DeVince
 (birth 1784 - death 1855). He inherited his parent's plantation near Lake Martin called Cypress Island. 

To the right of the fireplace is Alexandre's personal armoire in cherry wood with decorative inlays including his initials. It is interesting to note that through most of his life he used his mother's last name as his last name and his father's last name as his middle name. In the last years of his life he reversed this and is buried Alexandre DeVince Bienvenu in the prominent Bienvenu tomb in St. Louis cemetery #1 in New Orleans. 

"Lady of the Lake" plantation seen circa 1860 in a painting by Marie Adrien Persac 

Excerpt from the building contract for "Lady of the Lake" still in the St. Martin parish court house. Copied from the English translation in:
"Marie Adrien Persac" Authored by H. Parrott Bacot and others published 2000.

Inlaid mahogany early Louisiana bed 

Governor Jacque Dupre's tall case cypress clock beside a rare early Louisiana cherry inlaid chest of drawers.  

Curtains are c. 1960 reproductions of c. 1825 "Toile de Nantes" which is much more colorful than the more well known "Toile de Jouy". 

The original house had what we could consider "primitive" bathroom equipment. I installed a "modern" bathroom complete with the miracle of running water and flush toilet!!

The rear gallery was glassed in and a miniature kitchen installed in antiques cabinets. 

The view from the front galley terminates on a period pigeonniere. 

The happy custodian of this "Phoenix". 


If you would like to add a little Louis XVI or Directiore "bon gout" 
to your home, see the following sampling of items available
NOW at Au Vieux Paris Antiques!

Plan a visit or visit our website at