Friday, 11 April 2014

Scratching the Surface of Shopping in Lyon

When I visited Lyon last month, of course I wanted to see what the boutiques looked like! Lyon is a city of artisans, and the support for an artisan culture is high, which means lot of choice.

I went up to the Croix Rousse and walked down (a possibility for our Thursday afternoon, since Thursday morning we will be visiting the silk industry on the Croix Rousse). Morfia, the very first boutique that caught my eye was filled with glass jewelry, probably the most gorgeous I have ever seen, and with prices to match, but a real feast for the eye.

I met the glass artist, who runs her own boutique. You can see more on her website, although it is not so easy to navigate ... but it is worth a look!

Another shop with unusual creations was Kolporteur. The ceramics were worth a second look, and the leather bags were also handsome.

There is a Village de Créateurs on the Croix Rousse, with a wide variety of offerings. And sometimes shops are open and sometimes they are not - you have to go with the flow!

For a lunch break in this area, I thought that Laureline's Corner Fairy Cakes looked appealing, not so much for the cupcakes, but for the soups and salads (although I could eat a cupcake, if push came to shove!). And for those who are big fans of Angelina's in Paris, there is now one in Lyon in the Galeries Lafayett at Part Dieu.. Apparently it is easier to get a table than in Paris, but the prices are in the same range, and the ladies room is on another floor. The on-line commentary from the Lyonnais(es) is mixed ...

There will be a number of opportunities to buy silk! I recommend a quick visit on Wednesday afternoon to a shop just south of the main square called Tousoie (I'll be going there myself). Their website is a little limited, but a friend of mine was wearing the most gorgeous silk mousseline scarf in dark sea green with a royal blue border that came from this shop. You can scope out the offerings before the silk workshop visit on Thursday! (And it is possible to buy other fabrics too - I came home with a scarf that was periwinkle/violet with bands of orange, hot pink, ocher, etc. at each end, and this one is cotton.)

In addition, Lyon has all the major French departments stores and chain shops, where shopping can be entertaining in a different way. I was in a clothing store during the lunch hour, and I saw a young woman with several hangers of clothes in one hand and a sandwich that she was eating in the other. Right down the aisle from her was a woman trying on jackets, and her dog waited patiently at her feet while its mistress dropped her sweater and other belongings on him! Only in France ?

Monday, 31 March 2014

"Le Coussin de Lyon"

In 1643, an epidemic was wreaking havoc in the city of Lyon. The aldermen, walking in procession up the hill Fourvière, made an offering to the Virgin Mary, a wax candle that weighed 7 pounds and a gold sovereign coin on its own silk cushion. It must have worked, because every year since then, the magistrates of Lyon go the Fourvière to renew the aldermen's vows while three cannon shots are fired in the city.

The silk cushion inspired chocolate makers to come up with a treat that is available in a presentation box which resembles a silk cushion. This cushion, or "coussin", is reputed to be the most well-known specialty of the Rhone-Alpes region. (It's hard not to get side-tracked on this - what if they'd been inspired by the 7-pound candle??)

I bought one of these treats and a couple of their descendants when I was in Lyon, and Marcel and I have tested them for you.

 That's the "coussin" at 12:00 - yes, it is green!  It is a type of almond paste that is filled with a chocolate ganache, and there is a subtle orange flavor of curaçao. This confection gets points for two things: it is actually pretty light in the mouth - not what I expected with almond paste - and it is not too sweet. Anyone who loves good dark chocolate will probably be disappointed (me), whereas anyone who loves Christmas sugarplums, like dates stuffed with almond paste, will probably find these quite good (Marcel).

I actually preferred the more recent versions: the pink and the very dark blue ones are almond paste with fruit paste inside, and the yellow and orange ones are almond paste with a firm citrus cream inside. The little white roll on the bottom is a "quenelle", in honor of something you find on every menu in Lyon. Of course this one is not a fish quenelle (I had one of those while I was there - it had a lobster sauce, and it was quite tasty), it is white chocolate filled with a coffee praline chocolate ganache.

I bought these at Voisin - check it out.

Monday, 24 March 2014


As Quimper has its peinteuses, so Lyon has its traboules (in both cases, these words are directly related to the culture of their city). A traboule is a pedestrian passageway between two (or more) buildings that takes you from one street to another without having to go around the corner.

So last week I was in Lyon, doing some scouting for the trip in September - it's a great city, and the weather was sunny and 70°. I checked out a number of sites (see future blogs) and met with the person doing the trip logistics. We toured the hotel (also a future blog) and finalized details. And just before we parted, I asked her how to find the traboules, because I hadn't seen any and there are more than 200 of them!

She showed me on my map how to find them, and off I went. It wasn't quite so easy as that, because a lot of them are not marked, and as in many cities in France, there are large and somewhat forbidding doors at the entries to many buildings or their courtyards. But I finally found one about where I thought it should be, and it had a plaque, which helped. The large, somewhat shabby wooden door opened as I was standing there, and a mother came out with her two children, one in a stroller. I held the door for her and then I went in.

As it turned out, I picked a good one! It is known as the "Long Traboule" because it goes through four courtyards and four buildings. The owners have an agreement with the city of Lyon to leave it open in the daytime and the city keeps it clean. I sort of snuck down a passageway, and at the end on the left, there was a courtyard, with a group and their guide - I was in the right place. So I continued through to the other side, passing other courtyards and buildings. I came out on the street parallel to where I went in, just like I was supposed to!

We will have a tour of the traboules during our stay in Lyon, but if you'd like more info ahead of time, here is an interesting website:

Merci aux Lyonnais pour les photos !

Friday, 14 March 2014

The Hare with Amber Eyes: A Hidden Inheritance

This is a splendid book by internationally renowned potter Edmund de Waal, who sought out the history of a large collection of netsuke that he inherited (hence the title of the book). He allotted several months to this project and it took several years. It's a fascinating story that includes some of the major European banking families and the devastation of their empire during World War II.

So how is it in any way connected to the Quimper Club meeting in Nice??

One of the excursions at the meeting is a visit to the villa of Béatrice Ephrussi de Rothschild at Cap Ferrat (a wonderful villa with fabulous gardens). Edmund de Waal is a member of the Ephrussi family ...

The book is well-written and is a very good read!

Saturday, 1 March 2014

A new blog, a new beginning

Welcome to the QCI Members blog, a new sister blog to the now defunct love quimper? the original Quimper Club International blog.
Although love quimper has been retired for some time it still continues to receive visitors daily.
In a recent survey, undertaken for the QCI,  club members mentioned how much they missed the resource that the blog provided.

As you may already know the QCI annual meeting this year is to be held in Nice, France September 11- 15,.
To entice and inform us all an amazing amount of information has been gathered much of it appears on the QCI website and some will be printed in the next edition of Le Journal, the Club's newsletter.

This blog has been created as a place for members to not only indulge their love of pottery but also to discuss travel plans, tips and ideas.
Please leave a comment to let us know that you have visited and if you want to join in as a blogger and share something with the us, simply send an email and we'll get you started.

Wednesday, 25 November 2009


We are thankful for our family now, and for family heritage which has made our lives whole

For country and the blessings of freedom which we are duty bound to uphold for those who come after

We are thankful for the capacity to improve our circumstances through education and hard work

We are thankful for access to good food and clean water and power to keep our homes warm or cool

We are thankful for all these daily things which we tend to take for granted yet so many do not have

As Quimper Clubs member we are thankful for Lucy and Katie whose friendship and foresight formed our club

We are thankful for all the presidents and officers who over the years have given many hours of their time and skills, directing, organizing, writing, editing the Journal, collecting dues and filing our tax reports, writing the minutes, running the website, sending out updates, and creating the blog, and all the many duties that running our club requires

We are thankful to so many dedicated and talented people who share their expertise freely

And all the generous members who have organized our meetings and planned the events which we look forward to and enjoy

And to those who have opened their lovely homes and welcomed us to share in their beautiful collections

We are thankful to the many authors who researched and wrote books which help us with our searching

And to the experts who have presented programs at our meetings and have helped educate as well as entertain us

We are thankful for the friendships we have formed through our affection for our faïence and our gatherings of common purpose



Wednesday, 4 November 2009

How It All Began

The first of the summer was spent walking and exploring, and taking photos and sketching and writing in our journals... and EATING. We walked to Montmartre and seems a long way to me now, and sketched in the Jardin des Plantes and along the quais, and we spent hours in the Louvre, and being art students we were enchanted with everything.

We went to the Boulangerie for our bread early in the morning and ran home with it still hot in our hands. We got to know the stores for each different item, beef, pork, HORSE MEAT! (horrors..poor horse!),fresh vegetables, and so on. We found a fine little restaurant just across the Boulevard Saint Marcel called l'Entr'acte, and would order whatever we had not ordered before, and ate it and loved it and would go back home and look it up in our dictionaire. "Umm, tripe sausage, Hmm, brains, Ahhh, sweetbreads (what were they?). Hmm., kidneys." NO Matter, they had been GOOD, and we would order them again. We became friendly with the waitress, Maria, and she would suggest things to try, and told us our chef and owner was a retired French Line chef. Lucky us!

We visited my friends, Nicole and Pierre Chapo, who were artists and designers, and who later had a prestigious furniture business called Meubles Chapo. In these early days as "starving artists", they had a tiny one room flat with Pierre's drafting table and a bed and their baby Nicolas, who had been born in Phoenix where I had met them. We laughed and talked and shared Turkish coffee (I never could get used to sweet coffee!) and it was Nicole who took us on a circuitous route through the Latin Quarter where they lived above that student restaurant, to find this tiny shop with items from Normandy and Brittany as Nicole and Pierre were from Normandy and thought that we should see this.

Well, WHAT was this colorful pottery?
So many patterns, and so many designs!
Some a bit gaudy,
I thought..but so different.

They also had beautiful costumed dolls..I had always loved pretty costumes, and had collected Storybook dolls as a young of course had to have a couple of those too.

My budget was very tight and there was a whole summer ahead, but I bought a lug bowl which for years, I used for my café au lait, and a fabulous pitcher by Kereluc which was the stylized head of a lady in a tall lace coiffe, and a doll from Pont Aven and one from Brignogan, wherever those places where.

And so began my collection of Quimper. There is much more to my summer adventure for some other time, and the tale of how my collection finally got beyond my few pieces will come later,
and needless to say, it HAS grown over the years, but my love for both France and French faïence, especially that of Quimper, has never wavered.

Vive la France!