It started with a question. “Have you been to the Masion et Objets show in Paris?” It ended with a 10-day trip to Paris and Bordeaux and this is how it went.

 Maison et Objets Show

The Masion et Objets show in Paris has always been on my list to go ever since I found out about it 15 years ago. It has grown to be the largest home market show with over 3,500 exhibitors in 8 buildings totaling 2,800,000 square-feet. Which means, bring your walking shoes cause there’s a lot of ground to cover. Both Kirsten and I have been in the lighting and home furnishings business for over 30 years; we have been to most of the home market shows in the United States. We always heard the Masion et Objets show was the crème de la crème of market shows; so naturally we had to check it out for ourselves.

We allowed two days to get through Maison et Objets while we were in Paris. Day one we conquered the metro thanks to Kirsten figuring out the train routes. The check -in process at the show was easy since we had our badges already printed. We walked buildings 1-5 the first day. The show is very organized; the buildings are divided into product categories so you can skip the sections that don’t interest you. We skipped cook and share which was more for restaurants and kitchen stores and the kids and family section; other than that, we went up and down every row! Each building had several options for food and both days we had nice lunches with a bottle of wine. For dinner that night we went to Café Blanche which was right next to our hotel. It had a fun pub like vibe and not an empty seat in the house. World Cup Rugby was going on while we were in Paris, you could hear cheers from all the pubs around us when the games were on. Day two at the show was a little more exciting because buildings 6-8 had more high style and unique products. We definitely saw more home décor fashion trends in these buildings. Lots of patterns, green, blush and terracotta colors everywhere, natural materials and more refined traditional styles. We did most of our buying in buildings 6-8. All in all, I found Maison et Objets to be more organized than other shows we do and definitely more exhibitors. I always thought this was the show where home fashion trends are introduced but I did not get that vibe nor did I see over the top merchandising or displays that I thought I would see. I’m not saying it was disappointing, it just wasn’t very high on the scale of over the top I thought it would be. That night we had dinner at another restaurant on the same street as our hotel called Pojo. The best meal I had in Paris! The place was packed and it was just the owner and the chef running the entire show. The grilled octopus was the best I’ve ever had.

A day of Paris Flea Market madness

Our last day in Paris we saved for the Paris Flea Market. Oh, and let me tell you…. what a treat! I would fly back tomorrow to shop the flea market again. So fun, so worth it, so much to look at and not enough time. We didn’t really know where we were going so, we decided to take a cab instead of trying to map it out on the metro. Our cab driver didn’t speak a lick of English but managed to drop us off in front of the main entrance to the original and oldest flea market in Paris, The Vernaison Market, started in 1920 and now there are 15 totally different markets. We walked the Dauphine and the Serpette Market but the Vernaison was by far the best. We both walked away with several treasures and a nice lunch at Le Petit Navire. That evening we were invited to dine with the President of Norwalk Furniture, her counterpart and their friends from Norway who own a home goods importing business. Dinner was at the Café Laperouse in the Hotel de la Marine and this building is breath taking. Next time I’m in Paris I’ll be taking the tour of this place. After dinner Kirsten and I jumped in a cab and headed to the Eiffel Tower for some night time tourist pictures before turning in for the evening.

The Exciting Journey to Bordeaux

 We popped up Monday morning still reeling over the Paris Flea Market and our fancy dinner. Our second adventure was about to start. We grabbed a cab and headed back to the airport to pick up a rental car and start our 6-hour journey to Bordeaux. We drove on what we call interstate most of the way, passing one dried up sunflower field after the next. Peak sunflower season is July and I am sure it is a picturesque scene when they are in full bloom. We arrived at Chateau Grattequina around 5 pm. The hotel sits on the Garonne River just on the other side of Bordeaux. Once you turn off the main road you drive down a mile long driveway before coming up on the chateau. Honestly, it felt like we were pulling up on a movie set. The chateau is grand but homey, not cold like I think chateaus and castles should be and there is a quaint secluded pool to the left of the chateau. Chateau Grattequina has 10 rooms, 5 on the second floor and 5 on the third floor, each with their own bathroom. We stayed in the best room, Suite Chic it is called, which has 3 sets of French doors that open onto a terrace with a view of the Garonne River. We had a sitting area, fireplace, toilet room, shower and tub room with a huge vanity and king size bed which we agreed to share so we could stay in this room! We were greeted by a very flustered Frenchman who we never saw again after that day. After we got the tour and the key card to the wine dispenser we settled in our room with a glass of wine. The hotel offered a small menu of charcuterie plates, salads and smoked salmon and that is exactly what he had our first night.

Wine Galavants and Tasteful Chateaus

The next day we woke up to rain showers which we welcomed because we really didn’t want to leave the chateau. We watched the sunrise and had coffee on our terrace. By 11 am we were sitting in the parlor sipping on wine, watching the rain and knitting. This was pretty much our gig all day, we rotated through the different sitting areas from our terrace to the parlor to the boat house to the terrace again. I think we tried every wine in the dispenser and even ordered a bottle or two with our cheese plate and smoked salmon. We had mapped out a game plan for Wednesday that included winery visits, wine tastings and lots of stops and photo ops in between. We were well rested and ready to explore the countryside.

Here are a few stops we made.

Chateau Branaire-Ducru

Chateau Beychevelle

Chateau La Tour Carnet

Chateau Siran

And too many towns and Cathedrals to name. We had dinner in the city of Bordeaux at Pizzeria La Mama before calling it a night.

The Return to Paris Exploration

Thursday was another relax day at the Chateau. It was our last full day in Bordeaux and we wanted to enjoy our last hours at the Chateau. We lounged by the pool, knitted in the boat house, drank wine on our balcony and even did a little work. We got up early Friday morning for our last sunrise in Bordeaux before hitting the road back to Paris. We drove straight to the Atlantic Ocean to a little town called Carcans Plage. We stopped for a café and ham and cheese sandwich at Chez Heidi before we continued our journey. We took the ferry to Royan and made a pit stop at La Pierre de Crazannes. It took us a lot longer to get back to Paris but worth all the sights. We spent the night in a hotel near the airport for the convenience. The next day we retuned the car and made our journey back home.

Trip Summary

France never disappoints. It’s a beautiful country with friendly and polite people. Ask if I would go back, I would say in a heartbeat. As far as the Maison de Objets show goes, I think it is a great show for that part of the world, but for us it’s hard to do business with a lot of the vendors. Mostly because of the shipping and payment processes and honestly, we didn’t see much we can’t find at our markets in America, but the experience was priceless. The Paris flea market was the highlight in Paris hands down and the Chateau in Bordeaux was a fairy tale that I hope to visit again one day.