Paris Walks : "A table!" or "Dinner's ready!"
Time & Location
About the Event
"A table!" or "Dinner's ready!"
The table through the ages
One of the basic human needs is to eat: to restore oneself in order to stay alive, to feel full and contented, to gain energy and strength. But beyond simple nourishment there also lies the wish to savour, to enjoy and to discover, as well as to break bread with loved ones and celebrate with friends. And all these vital, delicate and crucial functions, pleasures and needs take place on the simple flat surface of a table - equally necessary for both the richest display and the meagerest of meals.
The most often-used piece of furniture in the least private of rooms, a table can come in all shapes and sizes and many different styles. It can seat a small family or dozens of guests at a banquet. Made out of humble pine, honest oak, or expensive mahogany, it is also of course handy for much more than just sharing bread: it is a surface for paperwork and homework, for laying down strategies or holding council meetings, and for enjoying games or performing domestic tasks such as ironing or sewing. The table is a silent witness to people’s changing needs; it ages along with its owners.
In France - a country that "dines, while others eat", as Montesquieu put it - the table is one of the most important pieces of household furniture. It is also a well-charted map of attributed roles: the “head of the table” represents authority and summons respect, just as the enviable “place of honor” is coveted by all, because everyone dreads banishment to the “end of the table”. In polite society, to "move up" the dinner table is a sign of enviable social advancement, while being “sent down from the table” is more than just a punishment: it means humiliation and exclusion.
The table is where we sit upright to reveal - by our table manners, our mastery of etiquette and our knowledge of codes - not only who we are but how and where we were brought-up. Decorum hangs on every mouthful, and both knowledge and experience are revealed before a single word is even spoken - by the mere movement of a fork, the choice of a glass, the folding of a napkin or the peeling of a fruit!
These are just some of the matters we shall examine as we visit the many rooms of the beautiful Museum of Decorative Arts and trace the evolution of the table through the ages. From medieval planks on trestles to the perfectly-polished beauties of 18th Century mansions, we will look at table surfaces as if they were maps of the lives of those who sat at them, since in its many scratches, marks and dents every table bears the traces of moments, accidents and incidents: both the bruises and the medals of a long life. The unique patina of every table reveals just how much it has lived and been loved.
Time: 11.30 – 14.00 (Please meet at 11.10 sharp! Visit must start promptly)
Place : Musée des Arts Décoratifs (101-109, rue de Rivoli). Please meet INSIDE THE MUSEUM, just meet opposite the Tickets Desk.
Métro : Tuileries or Palais Royal/Musée du Louvre
IMPORTANT: Tickets will be purchased collectively, please bring change!
Registration deadline: Wednesday 03/11/21, Participation costs 20 Euros
Suggestion: At this advanced morning hour you surely need reinforcement before our tour, so head to the nearest “Starbucks” (2, rue de l’Echelle 75001) for coffee and a snack!
Lunch: Enjoy a real Japanese meal at “Sapporo”(276, rue St.Honoré 75001) one of my “secret “ addresses in Paris for some extremely reasonably priced, yummy and filling food, served swiftly and always efficiently. Itadakimasu!