tablescape heaven in Paris

by Sharon Santoni

[white]You know how sometimes you discover a place or a person that you always knew had been there, but never really investigated or acknowledged ?….  That is how it was for me when I walked through the door of Au Bain Marie and was greeted by Aude Clement.

 

Here is a little store on the rue de l’Université, in the chic end of the Paris latin quarter.  Hemmed in all sides by wonderful private art galleries.    You can’t just push the door and walk in;    no… here you ring a bell, and wait for the door to be opened and for you to be greeted.  It sets the tone.

Au Bain Marie is the extraordinary result of an extraordinary career.  Aude Clement originally trained as an architect, at a time when young ladies didn’t do that sort of thing. The May 1968 riots saw her school closed down, and she came to Paris and switched to a design school.

 

With her qualifications in her pocket, she found herself unexpectedly employed as a  journalist, writing about gastronomy and fine dining for the most famous French papers and magazines.

For many years she had a huge store near the Crillon hotel, where she displayed her unending collection of antique and collectors tableware.

 

Napoleon III dinner plates

Today,  Aude’s store is smaller but her passion for a beautiful table and the importance of fine dining still persist.   Once you enter through the door, you know you are somewhere special.  It was difficult for me to take photos, because I hardly knew which way to turn.

 

From the collection of vintage ice buckets, to the spectacular antique sets of cutlery, to the dinner sets designed by Aude, be they on porcelain or on tole.  While I took my pictures and chatted to Aude I observed her clients.  Some were regular visitors, back to add to a collection, while others were here for the first time and walked around slowly, trying to take it all in.

Aude’s long experience means that she is a fount of knowledge on the history of tableware, and is able to source practically anything, no matter the request.

Creil & Montereau – ‘Le Parisien’ 19th century

She is regularly called upon to style important dinners, for up to 1500 people at museums and embassies in Paris.  Her breathtaking tablescapes and attention to details have made her a Parisian reference in stylish dining.

Her china and flatware have been flown around the world and used for picnics in Central Park; high dinners in Tokyo and Christmas gatherings in Sydney.  Her address book would make the busiest socialite pale in envy.  But the delightful thing about Aude is her down to earth and friendly manner.She can understand the need for dishwasher friendly knives, and she creates a line of tin plates, using 18th and 19th century French illustrations, because they are just perfect for hanging on  a wall or using on that picnic without fear of breaking a thing!

So next time you are in Paris, and you want to find the perfect set of fruit knives, or pick out an antique soup tureen, or simply admire the crystal decanters, then pop along to Au Bain Marie, ring the bell, and say bonjour to Aude!  And if you can’t get there in person, Aude takes orders via her website.

Au Bain Marie

56 rue de l’université, 75007 Paris France[white]

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38 comments

vicki archer December 17, 2013 - 1:42 pm

WHat a beautiful store Sharon… thank you… I would love to spend an hour or two in there … it could be very dangerous I imagine… 🙂 xv

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Sharon SANTONI December 17, 2013 - 6:11 pm

Lethal, Vicki, lethal!! 🙂
xx

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BrocanteuseRose December 17, 2013 - 2:07 pm

Oh my gracious, I would love to hear the stories behind those pieces. How absolutely charming are those animal plates!

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Sharon SANTONI December 17, 2013 - 6:11 pm

That is the beauty of a store like this, that there is someone who can tell you all those stories

xx

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Cindy December 17, 2013 - 2:25 pm

What an amazing career. Everything is spectacular… The little mice in particular capture my imagination.

xoxo

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Sharon Santoni December 17, 2013 - 6:13 pm

I loved those little mice too Cindy, and I thought the fish were charming too

xx

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Cheryll Kaczkowski (Corinne) December 17, 2013 - 2:31 pm

Validation. That is what I thought when reading this! I am an avid, passionate, somewhat out-of-control dinnerware (of many types) collector. I would be lethal in that shop. I spend much time working on presentation for my dinners, but this would be heaven. Thank you so much for supporting the ‘habits’ of like minded souls. Those sugar tongs are calling my name……………………….

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Sharon Santoni December 17, 2013 - 6:13 pm

You and Aude would have a lot to talk about Cheryll, she has put together some spectacular dinners in Paris.

xx

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Karen Sternberg December 17, 2013 - 3:04 pm

I would love to get lost in that shop. I would love to be in Paris right now, shopping and eating, eating and shopping….

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Sharon Santoni December 17, 2013 - 6:14 pm

Just have to fly here Karen … an air ticket in your christmas stocking perhaps? 🙂

xx

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Lindsay Abigail December 17, 2013 - 3:21 pm

Thank You so much for sharing.
I loved everything in Aude Shop. I know I would be overwhelmed with Joy..
Candlesticks and pitchers are my weakness..
Again thank You

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Sharon SANTONI December 17, 2013 - 7:13 pm

Then she could make you very happy Lindsay!

x

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Colleen Taylor December 17, 2013 - 3:23 pm

Sharon, what a lovely tribute to Aude & Au Bain Marie. Beautiful photos of charming & gorgeous pieces. That would indeed be a treat for the eyes to be in this shop. I love down to earth people who are not affected by their fame. A rarity in this world.

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Sharon SANTONI December 17, 2013 - 7:13 pm

You are so right Colleen, it is very nice to see.

xx

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florence December 17, 2013 - 3:26 pm

I know this shop since its very begining, when Aude Clement was working with Marie Ange, friend of me. At that time the shop was in Christian Dior old shop ! Amazing building. But they prefered to own a smaller shop. They began with an auction sale of a famous hotel in Paris, the Claridge on Champs Elysée, if I remember well, from which they bought a lot of things. It was around 1975 …. If you go back to visit Aude, just ask about that !

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Sharon SANTONI December 17, 2013 - 7:15 pm

Ah Florence, merci. J’étais sure que parmi mes lectrices il y aurait des habitués de Au bain Marie! J’ai vu les photos de l’ancien magasin, en effect très impressionant.

x

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Jeanne McKay Hartmann December 17, 2013 - 3:51 pm

Oh my goodness, Sharon, I’m so glad you shared your visit to “tablescape heaven.” I absolutely must visit when I come to Paris next month. The problem will be choosing something – so much beautiful stuff in one place! XO

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Sharon SANTONI December 17, 2013 - 7:16 pm

Well Jeanne, maybe we should meet for tea after your visit and you can show me what you buy! 🙂

xx

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Delores December 17, 2013 - 3:51 pm

This looks like my kind of store Sharon! My daughter just this morning sent an email telling me I had 100,000 miles and we should go to Paris. I think I could go to Paris just for this store alone! Thanks for sharing! Merry Christmas! ~Delores

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Sharon SANTONI December 17, 2013 - 7:17 pm

What an excellent email to receive Delores, you’d certainly love this store

Happy Christmas to you too

xx

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Nancy December 17, 2013 - 4:07 pm

Stunning! Beautiful pictures and I must go there someday….
Love the tongs…..hummm something new to collect…
Nancy

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Contessa December 17, 2013 - 4:26 pm

Sorry, I missed it in OCTOBER!
Love everything about the shop from ringing the bell to the inventory!

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Peggy Braswell December 17, 2013 - 4:46 pm

I adore this shop + must send this to a friend who is on her way to Paris as we speak. Thank you. xxpeggybraswelldesign.com

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stacey snacks December 17, 2013 - 5:08 pm

I am definitely stopping in La Bain Marie on my next trip to Paris.
Those Napoleon plates are like nothing I’ve ever seen!! Wow!

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Emm December 17, 2013 - 5:51 pm

You may owe me a new keyboard, Sharon, since I’m drooling on the old one. I once passed on buying a pair of Victorian silver grape scissors and have regretted it in the years since. If I get in the door at Au Bain Marie, they’ll likely have to drag me out.

Gorgeous pictures. As ever, thanks for a unique and thoughtful post.

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Mary in Oregon December 17, 2013 - 6:27 pm

What an interesting place that will be to visit on my next trip! Paris has so many distinctive shops – it must be because people from all over the world expect and know that Paris is famous for just that _ _ _ _! No matter what your interest, Paris has it in Spades! Au Bain Marie and Aude you are now on my list!

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Lorrie December 17, 2013 - 6:46 pm

Oh my. Another place to add to my list of want-to-visit. I think I would need to leave the credit card behind, though. Such beautiful temptation.

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Jen Owens December 17, 2013 - 6:48 pm

Wow Sharon! What a spectacular shop! When a shopkeeper is passionate about their work this is what you get… Perfection! You had me at the first photo!!! On my list for our next visit- Thank you.

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Karen (Back Road Journal) December 17, 2013 - 10:47 pm

I could spend hours in that lovely shop. If only I had the occasion to set a table with those beautiful plates.

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Amy at love made my home December 17, 2013 - 11:03 pm

Gosh, everything is so beautiful, I would not have known where to look first. Such an amazing place with so many wonderful things! Thank you for sharing. xx

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ann hodgkins December 18, 2013 - 12:05 am

Beautiful pictures.Aude sounds like a wonderful real person.These are the people and shops one likes to visit.I will definitely go there the next time I am in Paris.
Perhaps I can find a small item to bring home.
Since I stay in the 6th I can walk there!

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tara dillard December 18, 2013 - 12:40 am

In the 1960’s my aunt received a note from the Queen. She was having a party and discovered she was short of her pattern, the Queen contacted the company making the pattern and they said she had it, and would she lend 10 place settings.

The place settings were sent for the party, and returned.

Crazy story but true.

My mom never cared for a house/kids. Glammed to my mother-in-law and her love of a picnic with the best of everything: libations, china, linens, food……nothing was too inconvenient for a good picnic.

She’s gone, but I still have fabulous picnics.

Garden & Be Well, XO TAra

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Sharon SANTONI December 18, 2013 - 9:35 am

That is a very surprising story Tara, I hope your mum kept the note! 🙂

x

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Esther George December 18, 2013 - 1:04 am

I love the mice… Hi Sharon this place is very tempting and quite beautiful thank you for sharing your lovely photography. Regards Esther from Sydney.

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Pamela December 18, 2013 - 1:34 am

Breathtaking Sharon – and such a fascinating back story. Will definitely visit next June. Many thanks and Happy Christmas. Best wishes, Pamela

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Pam December 18, 2013 - 7:24 am

Hi Sharon!!!

I love this shop!!!

I love the items in the 3rd picture, especially, the silver tea pot!!!
The store sure was full of great items!!!

Enjoy the rest of the week!!!

Pam
oxo

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Barbara Novello May 6, 2015 - 11:59 pm

I just ran across this amazing women via Vogue May US issue and took me reseaching to your blog which I already get and love!

I am totally over the moon for her store, her things and her taste and talent as well as yours.

Thank you for bringing it all to us.

Barbara

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Kathleen Bryan August 26, 2020 - 8:29 pm

I have an engraved 1881 sterling silver sugar cube tong if you’re interested.

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