les Davey de France

Alan and Pat live and work in Bordeaux. Alan is a pastor and Pat was a nurse. Now we work with UFM worldwide. Read on! (If you'd like to know what took us to Bordeaux, then start with the archives from September 2004)

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

The Museum of Decorative Arts

So yesterday was my day off and we had a nice, slow, easy morning followed by a trip to the Museum of Decorative Arts and a tea shop.

The Museum of Decorative Arts is housed in a very fine house just next to the Town Hall in Bordeaux. The house used to belong to the Lalande family and was completed in 1779. It is a very fine house with a large courtyard in front and (originally) a garden behind. It is found at 39 rue Bouffard, Bordeaux, and it is worth putting that address into Google Maps and zooming in till you see the house and courtyard clearly. It's a fine building.

So the house was completed in 1779. Its builder died in 1784 and, as some of you have been predicting, his heir, the next owner, was guillotined in 1794 at Place Gambetta, just round the corner from his fine home. The contents of the house were confiscated and sold at auction.

When Napoleon came to power the family owned the house but rented it to the government because of the sad memories it held for them. Afterwards the house changed hands several times until the town of Bordeaux bought it in 1878 and it housed various services until becoming the museum of decortaive arts in 1955.

The house' various rooms are furnished finely and on large shelves are displayed various wonderful porcelain, pottery and glass objects. Some of the Venetian glass from the 1500s was simply incredible, as were the 18th century porcelains.

One particularly interesting thing was the rafraichisseur, or rince-verres - a Bordeaux custom - which is a large pottery or porcelain bowl with notches cut around the rim. Apparently the bowl was filled with water and crushed ice and, during a meal, once you finished your wine you would pop your glass into the rafraichisseur, give it a quick rinse and then haul it back out ready for the waiter to bring you the next glassful. Had I realised that I would not even find a photo of one by searching with Google I would have begged the folk in the museum to let me photograph one.

The museum has a sub-text. After a short while you realise that all the porcelain, fine furniture, glassware, musical instruments, everything dates from the 18th century. One of the staff confirmed that with the revolution the top was taken off French society which must have meant that lots of jobs were lost in the manufacture of fine things.

We intended going to a tea shop afterwards, but the one I had in mind has changed hands and become a café. So we went in a found the staff very friendly. Pat had a hot chocolate and I had a hot milk flavoured with caramel. Jolly nice too on a grey and chilly afternoon.

No comments: