Table Talk: Rue Royale

Table Talk: Rue Royale

In medieval days, Paris had entire streets devoted to particular trades and professions – tanners, butchers and the like. The contemporary city has its mini-shopping enclaves, too, if you know where to look.

The French take their arts de la table seriously, and the best single-street shopping destination for crystal, porcelain and chic cutlery is the aptly named Rue Royale. The Bernardaud (no. 11) family, manufacturers of the finest Limoges porcelain, have been in business for over a century, but while the luxury brand is famous for classic dinner patterns such as the Louvre collection—bone-white porcelain engraved with sweeping scrolls, fluting and other decorative features inspired by the architecture of the Louvre—it has in recent years also added innovative new collections by top contemporary designers including Olivier Gagnère and India Mahdavi. Next door at no. 9 Christofle, founded in 1830, has become a shining symbol of French luxury and savoir-faire, creating specially commissioned pieces for the Elysée Palace and France’s presidential jet. Shoppers born to silver spoons might enjoy a spree into tabletop luxe here, and there’s also a wonderful selection of avant-garde silver jewelry designed by Andrée Putman and Ora-Ito. Art Nouveau-style jewelry can be found at the world-famous crystal-maker Lalique (no. 11) along with crystal vases, decorative figurines and lavish chandeliers. Haviland, at no. 6, is an exquisite boutique carrying porcelain, crystal and silverware. While it has become a quintessential name in Limoges porcelain, the company was actually launched by an enterprising American china retailer, David Haviland, who, intrigued by a beautiful French porcelain teacup brought into his New York shop for repair, traveled to France in 1839 to see where it was made. A few years later he moved to Limoges and started a business that combined French technique with American design. To complete the perfect table setting, stroll down to the Village Royale, an elegant shopping arcade that starts at 25 rue Royale, and stop in at the shop of Guy Degrenne, whose specialty is sophisticated stainless steel cutlery.

Originally published in the October 2009 issue of France Today

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