Friday, June 29, 2012

Well-Cushioned -- Bringing Paris Home . . .

As I mentioned earlier in the week, our lovely new garden friend arrived in a parcel from France -- he was very well cushioned on his journey, and thanks to the dismal weather we've been having, we're spending much more time indoors with his travel companions than outdoors in the garden. There seems to be a promise of sunny patches later this weekend, so we can hope, but meanwhile, we'll be curled up in this space. . . .
You may remember that before we left for Europe, back in early spring I'd refurbished our livingroom cushions, switching over to cooler tones for the summer. I had huge fun choosing and mixing patterns and colours, and I was really pleased with the results. Enough cushions. Done.

Except that . . . one May morning in Paris, walking along Rue Bonaparte, I was transfixed by some gorgeous housses (cushion covers) in this window. Perhaps if the Sales Assistant had been less friendly, I might have just kept the covers in my memory, tucked away the business card in my bag, and our Bordeaux mascaron would have travelled home with us, uncushioned. Instead, though, Yannick represented Jules Pansu (Home FurnishingTextiles) with such amiable and generous pride in the beautiful textiles they produce, that we left with not one but SIX housses and the cushions to fill them when we got home.

 At least, we left that morning having chosen the six, and with an agreement to come back that afternoon after Yannick calculated the shipping cost. We had decided that rather than buying another case (for these surely wouldn't fit into our carry-on luggage), we would try what many people have recommended to us -- having goods shipped home separately.

When we returned, though, our new friend told us that the shipping fees would be 70 Euros -- not at all a negligible sum. Still, by the time we  paid for a new case. . . which would be a (very slight) hassle to find and buy . . . and we'd no longer be as wonderfully unencumbered on our train to the airport . . . and we'd wanted to see if posting separately could be a solution. So we committed. And to sweeten the pot, Yannick offered to include in the package anything else we didn't want to bother carrying home with us. I immediately thought of our amiable friend from Bordeaux, not too heavy, but definitely awkward to carry and at constant risk of breakage. And indeed, when we opened our parcel last week, we found that he'd been wrapped with care, had travelled without a single dent.

As we told Yannick, that lovely morning and afternoon in the shop on that busy Paris street, his kindness would be part of our cushions' story as they brought France home to/with us. He was so patient with our French; although his English was obviously very good, he deferred to our wish to practise our second language. Thus beyond the pillows' obvious beauty, they carry an element of warmth and friendship, a general spilling over of goodwill.
And here they are, transported from busy Paris to the seaside of a small Pacific Northwest island. Glorious birds made of layered threads, wonderful tapestry that promises years of wear given the hardiness of the fabric.

No way could I resist these fanciful fish, swimming through their coral reefs. . . .
What a brilliant contemporary adaptation of a very traditional textile technique.
I'm not sure what this is called, but it has the effect of an appliqué over the tapestry.
The livingroom was, admittedly, getting a little cushion-heavy. Although can one ever have too many cushions, too much comfort?
Perhaps . . . so we settled these two very Gallic specimens in the TV/guest room where they remind us of the ambitious, wonderful memorial, in Bordeaux's Place des Quinconces, to the memory of the Girondins who died during the French Revolution. That memorial includes a Coq Gaulois who these impressive tailfeathers will recall for us as we nestle in comfort far from Bordeaux or Paris.
I suspect future visits will yield more cushions, as Jules Pansu brings out new designs regularly. As for the shipping, the success of that venture will depend on whether Canada Customs returns us the considerable sum we had to pay to pick these up from the post office. We did get a form, when we came through Customs after our flight, acknowledging that what we had shipped fell easily within our Exemption. But we'll have to wait for bureaucratic wheels to turn. . . . Meanwhile, though, we'll be well cushioned, waiting in comfort.

And you? Facing the weekend in comfort? (If you're entering a sunny weekend, be careful how you break the news . . . we're getting very despondent here in the land of Junuary . . . )

18 comments:

  1. They're all lovely and I was able to view with a delighted detachment until...OMG ROOSTERS!!!! LOVE LOVE LOVE!!!! I'm bouncing up and down in my chair.

    Your story of the kindness of the sales associate adds to the pleasure in viewing these. Those little kindnesses that we perform and receive are so much more than the sum of their parts.

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  2. Sue, I thought of you as I was choosing, mailing, opening, arranging, and finally, posting about these . . . I knew you'd love them. And there are more in this series -- you should check them out at the Pansu website. Yummy, yummy stuff!

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  3. They are lovely, fanciful yet timeless. Re customs, it 'should' work out, especially if you still have your receipts. Keeping fingers crossed.

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    1. Thanks K -- additional crossed fingers much appreciated -- I did keep all documentation, so will wait in hope and patience.

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  4. Textiles have always been my favourite souvenirs. Cushion covers, table cloths, pillow cases, even upholstery fabric. I love to have the reminders of a good trip all around me to enjoy over the months afterwards.

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    1. I can see them becoming one of my favourite ways to bring the journey home. After all, no risk of them breaking in transit, and they're useful back home.

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  5. The red & white cushions are beautiful. As the blogger Faux Fucshia says we should 'never knowingly under-cushion!'

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    1. I did think of her saying that, actually . . .

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  6. The cushions are just lovely - bringing home things that you use all the time is a wonderful way of perpetuating your travel experiences, isn't it? That sounds like a really delightful shop, with a history stretching back to the French provinces and traditional craft, and I've bookmarked it with a eye to our next Paris trip.
    Rosemary

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    1. I think you'd like it, Rosemary. They've also got torchons (tea/kitchen towels) in great patterns. And throws. So many temptations. . .

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  7. Lovely! I have decided, for some insane reason, two days before I leave for vacation, to make slipcovers (without a pattern) for all my loveseat cushions and pillows. Pillows: done, piping and zippers intact, and now for the cushions! Would love to have had them all shipped from Europe instead . . .

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    1. I can't get over how you meld creativity with talent with sheer energy -- I suspect your slipcovers are gorgeous (loved! your hand-embellished sunglasses!)

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  8. Beautiful housses, especially the birds. I was going to quote Faux Fuchsia but That's Not My Age beat me to it. I hope you have sunshine soon!

    We also appreciate and remember kind and friendly sales associates at home and abroad.

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    1. Keep sending those sunshine wishes this way, thanks, Susan. So far, it's been a dull summer.

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  9. Quelles housses merveilleuses! A perfect souvenir - beautiful and useful at the same time. I like the birds best, but they all work together in your lookout over the ocean.

    These grey skies are gloomy, aren't they?

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    1. I love the birds, and they're even more beautiful up close. I would have loved the whole series, so fanciful, so airy.

      And yes, so gloomy -- apparently, you had sunshine down island yesterday. We did, too, briefly, in the morning, but then it returned to regularly scheduled rain, rain, rain.

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  10. Oh they are gorgeous. I love the beautiful birds, but the red fish are fabulous as well. What a treasure, made all the more sweet by the lovely memories.

    One of my favorite souvenirs is a velvet pillow cover purchased in Venice.

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  11. Funny, as soon as I read "velvet pillow cover," my fingertips tingled with the sensation of that luxurious nap . . .

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