The Story behind a Souvenir

Anne & Kirk Woodyard – Music and Markets Tours

A couple of years ago, while in Paris for Thanksgiving, we were strolling along the cobbled lanes ofIsle Saint Louis, and stopped to enjoy the window display of an intriguing antiquaire on rue La Regrattier. An elegant Art Deco pair of crystal candlesticks kept calling Kirk’s name, and, carefully cushioned in bubble wrap, they came back to Virginia with us, where they now are one of the first things you see when you enter our home.
Kirk wanted to know the provenance of these beauties, and Monsieur Kieken, the owner, told us they were from the renowned (although we had never heard of it) Saint Louis crystal factory in northeastern France.
When we saw that very factory, and the associated museum, listed on the Lorraine-Alsace trip itinerary on which we were invited by the French Tourist Office, we were excited that we would be able to see the place from where our candlesticks came.
The Cristallerie Royal Saint Louis was founded in 1787 by order of Louis XV, beginning as a glass factory. Since the discovery of crystal fifteen years later, the factory has been devoted to the design and production of crystal items.
A fabulous crystal chandelier hangs above the bare earth, surrounded by a winding showcase of centuries of dazzling craftsmanship.
Before we look through the museum, we must first see from where these gorgeous pieces come…. the glowing furnaces, kept at a temperature of at least 1200 degrees fahrenheit, heat the room as high as the catwalk upon which we stand… glad we’re not here in the summer! Molten crystal streams from one furnace – we watch from a safe distance!
After our factory tour, we’re free to tour the museum, and shop at the boutique. I tell the museum guide about our candlesticks, describing their stacked square base, and he immediately knows the era and the designer, Jean Sala, and says that some of his work of the same style is in the museum, as well as in the Paris Museum of Decorative Arts on rue de Rivoli. So now I’m on a hunt, and breezing past the ornate styles of centuries past, I head for the Art Deco period, and there it is, a candlestick with the same base, designed by Monsieur Sala.
What a thrill to see from where our lovely souvenir came! Those very furnaces and workrooms contributed to the beauty in our home – and those candlesticks mean more than ever!
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The best way to describe us (Kirk and Anne Woodyard) is that we’re interested in the stories that make the places we visit come alive.
We’ve visited Europe more times than we can count, lea
rned some entertaining stories there, and met some warm and helpful people who also enjoy the wonders of music and life in Europe.
Between our music-related travels, we split our time between our homes near Washington DC and the south of France. We look forward to sharing these stories and friends and experiences with our Music and Markets guests.
While both of us have experience in organizing travel and music groups Kirk’s background is in project management and competitive writing, and Anne is an accomplished pianist with over thirty years of teaching experience, and a travel and food writer specializing in France and Italy.

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