Sunday, November 04, 2007

The Antidote to IKEA

Sometimes indoor life in Paris is so full of IKEA furnishings and intense halogen lights. Such practical, cool design and functionality. Bright cheery colors, forceful in a way. I didn't actually recognize that I needed an antidote to IKEA-itis until I stumbled upon Fanette.

First, the shop window. Paris vitrines are famously beautiful, often glossy and dramatic. Trendy. Most times I slow down to give them a good once-over as I stride by.

But any vitrine that makes me go from a brisk clipped pace to a standstill in two seconds indicates to me that there is talent or mystery waiting inside.

I am not disappointed. Entering this shop there is an inviting ambiance of warmth, humanity, connection. Not stuffy or frou-frou, but connection among real people and nature. The modern industrial world and its shiny, sleek machine-made conveniences seem on another planet. From the soft glow of the lighting to the the warm tones of the furniture, there is a chaleur d'esprit, with cross-stitched 19th century samplers, linens, hand carved bowls.

I feel as though I have not entered a place of business, but rather a living room piled with the objects that she loves.

Fanette has been in this same location in the 15th arrondissement for 35 years, just steps from the Gare Montparnasse. The owner is welcoming and helpful. I ask the price of an antique console with natural wood legs made from grapevine (sarment de vigne). She doesn't know and calls her daughter. "Allo ma chérie... oui oui d'accord. Merci je t'embrasse. A plus tard ma chérie." While she is chatting on the phone, I wander around, feeling as though the objets are tutoyer-ing me as well, that I am their chérie, too. There is an intimacy which urges me to stay and look, to bring something home.

1 rue d'Alençon
75015 Paris
01 42 22 21 73
Open Monday through Saturday, 1 pm to 7 pm

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