Chartres and la Maison Picassiette

Ivana and I walked beside a park and down a road for several minutes, searching for la Maison Picassiette (Broken Plate House). As are the Watts Towers in southern California and le Palais Idéal south of Lyon, la Maison Picassiette was the passion (obsession) of one man. Raymond Isidore (1900-1964) eventually decorated every room in his tiny house, and every piece of furniture in it, with paintings, frescoes, and mosaics, the latter made from shards of tiles and crockery. He shared the house with his wife and her three children from a previous marriage, and she must have had infinite patience to put up with the constant mess and the results. Even the garden has tiled sculptures, though they are scattered about, as the land had be left free to provide food for the family.
DSCN8688 DSCN8701
>> Flowers, decorated concrete walls, tiled pots and instruments in the entry courtyard. A surprisingly effective cityscape composed of red and white shards: churches are a recurring theme.
Chartres: Maison Picassiette Chartres: Maison Picassiette
>> This furniture is mostly painted, but a wood cookstove (said to have continued to function properly) is entirely covered in mosaic, including the plates and stove pipes; a treadle sewing machine’s mosaic cabinet housed a functioning machine; several chairs and the bed are all sheathed in mosaic. Some of the details are charming and clever: a pumpkin tureen lid forms the nose of this face on an outside wall.
For additional pictures, check out:

DSCN8719 Chartres: parc: goats, chickens
>> Near la Maison we passed a house with an unusual art display, or perhaps a small pickle factory; several jars of vegetables were lined up along the fence. We returned through the park; along with the usual amenities, it has a miniature golf course and pens housing goats and exotic chickens.

Our route took us past lÉglise St-Pierre, which is in dire need of restoration. Some of the columns are damp and green at their bases and a large net hangs below the ceiling, apparently to catch falling debris. Some excavation is underway. Its bell tower dates from ±1000 and is where the monks of the adjacent abbey (now used as a high school) sought refuge from attack. It has some beautiful windows.
Chartres: Église St Pierre Chartres: Église St Pierre
>> I had never seen stained glass windows that hinge open, as do three in the church; there are long poles for cranking them open and closed. The baptismal seems to be in good condition, though its setting is a bit dank.

Anyone who wants to explore the city and its attractions needs to start a bit earlier than we did (leaving Paris at 10h13) or stay overnight. Using public transportation might help.* We decided to not try to get to le Musée des Beaux-Arts. Instead, we sat down at a little café and ate sweet crêpes (sucre and a cup of coffee for Ivana, Nutella with sliced banana for me) and went into the cathedral again. Another Mass was underway.
By then it was 17h25. We went to the museum, which closes at 18h00, just to find out about its collection and get a brochure. After chatting for a couple of minutes, the clerk invited us to look around, no charge. Très gentil! The permanent collection includes musical instruments, furniture, photography, paintings from several eras, armour and weapons, and two rooms with items from Oceana. We whipped through most of it, each seeing different things. It would be worth a visit for the building itself: it is the former residence of the Bishops of Chartres. They did not live simple lives.
Chartres cathedral: Bishops' palace (former): Musée des Beaux Arts: atelier Chartres cathedral: Bishops' palace (former): Musée des Beaux Arts: chapel
>> Due to renovations or une exposition being installed, I had to traverse the basement atelier to reach the Oceana wing. It looks as if the museum hosts many student field trips. On the right is the Bishops’ chapel.

We made our way back to the train station, passing several interesting buildings and a restaurant whose table bases are old treadle sewing machines. The 18h51 return train was an express with only a couple of stops, and we were at Gare Montparnasse before 20h00 and home by 20h20.

* On our walk to la Maison Pisassiette I checked a bus stop and discovered that there was no service on Sundays. Closer to the centre we saw a little tourist train, but I do not know if it goes to la Maison.

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