A Tile is Not a Tile
I have always been very particular about design and style. I remember being about 10 years old, the same age as Halliday is now, dragging my poor mother and sister all over the “Main Line” (where we did not live, on purpose) in search of the perfect pair of shoes for La Rentrée. I didn’t know what they looked like, but I knew they would find me, if I was focused. And they did (at BAltmans) the perfect buff, new buck laceups — twice the price of any other pair. I loved these shoes soooooooooo much that I wanted to sleep in them, which is what I did in those days.
Well, here I am, a few, just a few pairs of shoes later, having to pick tiles for the kitchen here in Balmont. My mission, to find faience (accent lazy again, sorry) for the back splash, les carrelages pour le sol (floor tiles) and le plinthe (the kick plate, would we call it?) I have in mind something very basic French, like one would find in une maison bourgeoise de XVIII siecle. I’m thinking simple white faience squares or maybe metro tiles for the black splash, and hexagonal stone or cement tiles for the floor. I have pictures in my head. I know I have seen the perfect thing a hundred times in Coté Sud or Maison Francaise.
So, we pop in the Peugeot 407, a car I lease thru AutoEurope in Portland, Maine, and head to Lyon. I am never exactly sure how to get to Lyon, but again I have images in my head and fancy myself to have a good, yet abstract sense of direction. And, like Kingston, NY, all roads eventually lead to the same place. I pick the scenic route, via St. Martin en Haut. Well, my mistake. Did I mention that this area, les monts du lyonnais, is a small mountain range, an area that I would politely describe as valloné (hills and valleys)? By the time we get half way there, the girls have green faces and I am so cranky, imagining a full day of this. It is broiling here, even at 10 in the morning and by the time we get to the parking garage in the centre ville, we are truly miserable.
I bribe les filles with the promise of a carousel ride at Place de la Republique and a Magnum (like a Haagen Daz bar.) That usually works. Anyway, the good news is we all feel better once out in the sweltering urban air. We do a little shopping for my friend’s brother’s new baby daughter, who is supposed to arrive today of all days, at Printemps, and for me, at one of my favorite home decoration stores, Habitat, formerly owned by Terence Conran. The girls pick out a Petit Bateau t-shirt and a Moulin Roty doudou toy (which I would like to snuggle with) for bébé Anis and a round white linen tablecloth on sale moins 50% for moi. Good buy!
Les Soldes, the biannual sale, which lasts 6 weeks, is not supposed to begin until the 29th, and that’s the law (though I recently read in the WSJ something about that law being overturned — such bad news for French retailers,) so I am surprised about my -50%. Mais bon.
La Carotheque, the tile store recommended by Eric, is a bit of a disappointment. First of all, the two salespeople barely give me the time of day when I walk in, and second of all, they are smoking in a tiny enclosed space. Yuck. I hate that about France. That and the dog poop all over the sidewalk. Is that a Cartesian rule thing? They are toooooo busy to wait on me and I have to make an appointment for 1 1/2 hours later. Bon. We go to la FNAC and buy 6 amazing CDs, a french version of the SIMS (bribery again) and have un boisson at the café, always a favorite.
So, the tile dilemma . I look around and find that the tiles in my head, the tiles that are going to find me, are of course, the most expensive tiles available. Not really, but I have to abandon the idea of hexagonal stone floor tiles completely (six weeks, custom order) and even my first choice of square stone carrelages in dark grey. It seems that dark grey must be very popular, as these are twice the price per m2 as the nearest medium grey. The salesguy treats me as if I’m annoying him and he has far better things to do, (like check messages on his personal cell phone peut-etre) and I leave thinking perhaps I’ll get another recommendation from Zizou for a tile store. This is not an atypical french shopping experience. The good news — I now know what is available and have not only an image, but a square meter price in my head. With a little imagination, I will find my perfect shoe. Demain.
A swim at Montbret for the girls and cherry picking from this awesome old tree. I keep wondering to myself why we don’t live like this in the states. Why are we so out of touch with our environment? (And a voice in my head says...Lyme Tick Disease) Can one of the big pharmaceutical companies come up with a successful vaccine, s’il vous plait? Merci!