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Phoenix Rising from the ashes!!

Bonjour et Bonne Année!

In this season of rebirth and renewal, I write today of a “phoenix” that has risen from the ashes more than once!

This phoenix is the c.1830 “maison de Dimanche” or Sunday house, now on the grounds of Au Vieux Paris Antiques. I found it melting back into the earth in St. Martinville in 1981.

Even before I found it, the house had already undergone a move around 1845 from the front of its lot on the corner of Bridge and Pinot streets to the rear of the lot, where it was “downgraded” to become an outdoor kitchen for the “new” house built in its former location.

Originally it was probably what we would call today a weekend house for someone who had a large house out of town. In the 18th and 19th centuries if you came into St. Martinville (known as “Petite Paris “SVP”!!) for shopping and the opera house on Saturday or church on Sunday, and it rained, you could not travel the mud roads back home to the surrounding countryside. Therefore if you could manage to have a “maison de Dimanche” in town, this common problem was solved with a nice degree of luxury.

Court house records indicate the house was sold in 1831, shortly after it was built. The document that states the description of the lot also mentions “la petite maison”. When I first found this little gem of early Louisiana architecture, I thought it was constructed by Alexandre DeVince Bienvenu, but further courthouse research relieved that the original owner married a “house builder” by the last name of Rogers which leads me to the belief he built this house. However it does have many architectural elements which are exactly like those used in M. Bienvenu’s, most well documented project “Lady of the Lake Plantation” built in 1827 between St. Martinville and Cade. This treasure was tragically destroyed in 1976.

After politely pestering the owner for 14 months, he sold me the structure in the spring of 1983. The first thing I did was to bring in some carpenters to shore up and connect together the major sagging elements. After it looked a little more stable and presentable, I had a house mover come to see it and fortunately he was not intimidated by its condition and agreed to move it.The move went without a problem and to my surprise was conducted completely in French!!!

Next was the reconstruction and restoration. This was an extensive amount of work to say the least, but all was done and I moved in December 1983. I very much enjoyed living in this little house even though, Au Vieux Paris Antiques had not taken over all of the neighboring c.1820 Henri Penne house as it has today.

On August 26 1991, during hurricane Andrew, a tornado came marching down the driveway and tossed an enormous water oak tree down on this little house with me in it !!!! As you can see in the attached photos the damages were certainly serious, however if the tree had not hit exactly dead center on the solid brick double center chimney, which acted as a strong column, it would have smashed through the structure down to the ground with me crushed in the middle!!!! As it is the bed I was in when this happened ended up holding up the ceiling with its bed posts!! Again a serious restoration took place and I moved back in the winter of 1991.

Next in about 2011 the roof needed changing “again” as well as much general replacement of the rotten wood steps, porch flooring etc. We do live in humid Louisiana after all!

The last trauma was the flood of August 2016!! This brought one and a half inches of water above the floor which had “little” results except the destruction of the a/c duct work and some electrical rewiring.

So as you can see from this written story and my photographs, this
“phoenix” has weathered a lot of destruction but has rebounded each time rising from the “ashes” to go on to a renewed life once again.

Read the 1991 “Southern Accents” article about the “Maison de Dimanche”. (Photography by Tina Freeman and Text by Lindsay Heinsen).

May 2017 be a year of endings and new beginnings of renewed life for all!

Merci Cordialement,
Robert E. Smith

“Before photos” Yes, it took a vision and a leap of faith!
Lower picture on the right shows the house at it’s current Henri Penne location after a few months of work.
Maison de Dimanche - Acadian Sunday House - yellow siding, dark green working shutters, full length wood front porch with wood shingle gable roof. House is raised on brick piers with 3 steps, set in the woods of St. Martin Parish, Louisiana.
“Humpty Dumpty was back together again” December 1983
Tornado damage of hurricane Andrew, seen after the huge water oak tree was removed. August 1992
December 1992, back together again.
Hurricane Andrew’s tree removal program did create a nice sunny spot for a vegetable garden.
The interior is furnished with a mix of early Louisiana furniture in cherry, walnut, mahogany or mulberry, while the painted, upholstered seat furniture is of french manufacture.
Note the “faux marbre” finish of the original cypress mantle, which for a time from c. 1845 to 1983 had migrated to the “new” house built on the same lot.
French made early 19th c. decorative objects are like those known to have been handed down in plantation families and would have come to Louisiana when new.
The overall look of the interior is Louis XVI transitional to Directiore.
In the bedroom you can see a similar fireplace mantle of “faux marbre” cypress.
Above the mantle is a portrait of the architect and builder Alexandre Bienvenu DeVince (birth 1784 – death 1855). He inherited his parent’s plantation near Lake Martin called Cypress Island.
To the right of the fireplace is Alexandre’s personal armoire in cherry wood with decorative inlays including his initials. It is interesting to note that through most of his life he used his mother’s last name as his last name and his father’s last name as his middle name. In the last years of his life he reversed this and is buried Alexandre DeVince Bienvenu in the prominent Bienvenu tomb in St. Louis cemetery #1 in New Orleans.
“Lady of the Lake” plantation seen circa 1860 in a painting by Marie Adrien Persac
Excerpt from the building contract for “Lady of the Lake” still in the St. Martin parish court house. Copied from the English translation in: “Marie Adrien Persac” Authored by H. Parrott Bacot and others published 2000.
Inlaid mahogany early Louisiana bed
Governor Jacque Dupre’s tall case cypress clock beside a rare early Louisiana cherry inlaid chest of drawers.
Curtains are c. 1960 reproductions of c. 1825 “Toile de Nantes” which is much more colorful than the more well known “Toile de Jouy”.
The original house had what we could consider “primitive” bathroom equipment. I installed a “modern” bathroom complete with the miracle of running water and flush toilet!!
The rear gallery was glassed in and a miniature kitchen installed in antiques cabinets.
The view from the front galley terminates on a period pigeonniere.
The happy custodian of this “Phoenix”.
If you would like to add a little Louis XVI or Directiore “bon gout” to your home, see the following sampling of items available NOW at Au Vieux Paris Antiques! Plan a visit or visit our website at:
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Chers Amis de L’Ecole du Bon Gout.


With winter’s arrival our daily patterns change and we spend more time indoors. On a gloomy rainy day or a blustering cold night, almost nothing can provide more comfort and delight than an open fire in your fireplace…It must be a primordial connection! 

To heighten this experience of site, sound, smell and touch one can add the pleasures of a fire back to the fireplace. It functions to project more heat out of the fireplace, protect the bricks at the rear of the foyer and of course in the theatrical light of the flickering fire, the images on the fire back entertain the eyes!

Now at Au Vieux Paris Antiques, we have a varied selection of fire backs in different sizes, images and styles ranging from Renaissance to Louis XVI. Plan a visit soon or visit the website to see these and other treasures to enhance your daily living this winter season.

Merci cordialement,
Robert E. Smith

Au Vieux Paris Antiques

A fire back dated 1711 in an early 18th c. fireplace.

Two fire backs, cast pig iron, with the family crest of the royal house of the Bourbon kings of France. 

18th century fire back, cast pig iron, a rare model with the ability to attach an iron shelf for cooking.

A classic image of the Bourbon Arms.

A contemporary reuse svp

18th century cast pig iron, stylized fleur des Lis indicating princely ownership. 

Late 18th century – early 19th century fire backs cast iron

Late 18th century fire backs cast pig iron, from the same house with Cathar symbolism.

Note Bourbon arms and extreme patina of age

Two Renaissance fire backs to each side and a late 17th century fire back in the center with the family crest of the royal house of the Bourbon Kings of France. 

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Reminder : 30% True Friends Discount

Chers Amis de l’Ecole du Bon Gout, 


 October 14th marks two months since the beginning of the “Flood of 2016”!  

 However it continues to be for many a complex and difficult recovery and restoration process. 

 Here at Au Vieux Paris Antiques, we are offering a 30% discount off all merchandise (except flooring) to:

 1) Anyone who was flooded.  

 2) Anyone who has housed or given considerable assistance  those who were flooded.

 3) Anyone purchasing a gift for a flood survivor 

  In times like these true friends show their true colors!

    Merci cordialement, 
    Robert E Smith 

Au Vieux Paris Antiques
1040 Henri Penne Rd
Breaux Bridge La 70517

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30% discount “THANK YOU” to those TRUE friends!!

Chers Amis de L’École du Bon Gout!


As a “THANK YOU” to all those really TRUE friends who have come to the rescue of flood survivors, I would like to extend the 30% discount on all merchandise (except flooring), not only to those with flooded homes and businesses, but also to those who have contributed to this huge complex rescue effort by housing and cleaning and caring for those actually flooded.

With grueling flood recovery still ongoing full tilt even a month now after the flood, maybe some happy treats and rewards would be welcomed at this time!

Plan a visit in person to the shop or visit our website!

Merci Cordialement,

Robert E. Smith

Au Vieux Paris Antiques
1040 Henri Penne Rd
Breaux Bridge LA 70517

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30% discount to Flood Survivors!!

Chers Amis de l’Ecole du Bon Gout!

  Southern Louisiane was hit by an unprecedented flood with waters entering tens of thousands of homes and businesses!!!

  I too had the basement of my tower home at Lake Martin flooded as well as an inch of water over the floor of my little Maison du Dimanche on the grounds of Au Vieux Paris Antiques.  Fortunately the shop remained above water.  So compared to tens of thousands of other residents I am “getting off easy”!!

   As a special gesture of my gratitude for not being drastically damaged, I am offering a 30% discount on any item (except flooring) purchased by flood survivors as well as on gifts purchased to be given to flood survivors!!

  With so very many people grieving for having literally “lost everything” I trust this is a happy opportunity.

Mes Amities,

Robert E. Smith

Au Vieux Paris Antiques

1040 Henri Penne Rd
Breaux Bridge LA 70517

This was just a “photo taste”of the extensive and diverse stock here at Au Vieux Paris Antiques!

Call, email or plan a visit today!!


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Hand Blown Glass Celebration!!!

25% off SALE!!  August 9th through August 16th

Chers Amis de l’Ecole du Bon Gout,  


         With temperatures here in Louisiane and elsewhere, in the 90’s day after day, one needs to be careful to hydrate! Drinking a glass of lemonade out of a plastic cup is just not the same experience as drinking it out of a 19th century hand blown and hand panel cut stemmed glass!

           With summer comes the urge to entertain friends and through the coarse of a party, several different forms of glassware need to be called into use! In Provence you are usually greeted upon arrival with a flute of champagne. Then at dinner, there are wine and water glasses employed. After dinner possibly a liqueur is offered. This just covers the glassware used personally and doesn’t mention the serving containers involved!

Here at Au Vieux Paris there is a wide selection of 18th and 19th century glassware to suit most all your needs!

Come by during this 25% off celebration, August 9th through August 16th, and  treat yourself or stock up on gifts for those special occasions in the future!

Merci cordialement,  

Robert E. Smith
Au Vieux Paris Antiques
1040 Henri Penne Rd.
Breaux Bridge La, 70517

Bocal Jars 18th and 19th century, great for presenting fruits in alcohol, sangria or just some humble lemonade.

A rare model of champagne flutes.

Rare matching 18th century wine and water carafes. 

Left we have 18th century bocal jars.

On the right, is a detail mid 18th century painting by Chardin.  

Shadows on the Teche pattern

Shadows on the Teche champagne flutes, our most popular model. 

Rare suite of five matching carafes, 19th century.

Huge apothecary jar and a rare amber demi john.

Left, is a suite of six 18th century “thimbles” 
On the right is a detail from a mid 18th century painting by Chardin.

Panel cut heavy bistro glasses

Plain, heavy bistro glasses.

“V” panel cut stemware is also a popular model. 

So invite your neighbors over from the Chateau next door and have a party celebrating glassware!

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A Mirror Celebration!

25% off all mirrors in stock!

Chers Amis de l’Ecole du Bon Gout!  


When it comes to antiques, mirrors might be the most decorative and at the same time most functional of all the categories. They can have frames which are major works of art and style in themselves. 

They multiply and reflect natural and artificial light, their patinated glass plates can be abstract works of art to enjoy, their reflections work to enlarge the spaces they are hung in, not to mention you can see yourself in them!!

In new homes which may not have many windows with natural light and views, a large mirror, strategically place opposing the extant windows can function almost like an added window and therefore enhancing, balancing and even “enlarging” the space.

See below 4 photos of room settings which illustrate mirrors in actionfollowed by photos of a selection of some of the 45 (+/-) mirrors now in stock.

From August 1st to August 8th all mirrors will be on sale for 25% off!

So reflect on this opportunity and treat yourself to a mirror or two 
to enhance your decor and reflect your good taste!!

Robert E. Smith

Au Vieux Paris Antiques

1040 Henri Penne Rd.
Breaux Bridge, La 70517

Large scale period Louis XV over door converted to a mirror
Classic Provençale Louis XVI model

One could say this is a BIG mirror! 
8′ – 11″ tall, 5′ – 2″ wide
Classic Provençale Louis XV model
17th century Louis XIV model 


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A Lighting Celebration!!

25% off on all lighting for one week!  


Chers Amis de Bon Gout!

Summer is a time we like to entertain friends and almost nothing adds more magic to a festive supper than candlelight.

In Provence, the “formula” for summer entertaining is: Champagne to greet the guests, rosé with the meal, simple dishes prepared from fresh produce, fresh flowers and lots of candlelight on the table and around the room or garden setting!    

To make acquiring some new lighting fixtures for yourself an even more brilliant idea, from July 21st to July 28th, all lighting fixtures will be on sale for 25% off!!

See following two photos of candlelight working its magic, followed by a small selection of the numerous fixtures available.

Robert E. Smith

Au Vieux Paris Antiques
1040 Henri Penne Rd
Breaux Bridge, La 70517

Amazing assembled set of seven high
style Louis XV candlesticks. 

Rare set of four all original candlesticks
retaining much silver plating.

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French Oak Celebration!!!

25% discount on all French oak antiques from July 14th – July 20th!!!

Bonjour and welcome to today’s visit to L’Ecole du Bon Gout. How can French oak, which was loved by the kings of France, who could have had any wood they wanted, be so automatically disliked by many Americans?? This paradox is made even stranger when you realize the many virtuous qualities of oak (i.e. its strength, hardness, ability to be well carved and to take a polish, etc). 

I think this knee-jerk dislike for oak is because of its false association with the early 20th century American “golden oak” furniture which is so plentiful in second hand shops today and is of uninspired design as well as generally poor construction. 

Louis XIV chose oak for the splendid doors to his personal bedroom at his prized Chateau of Marly, These doors are today on view at the Metropolitan Museum  of Art in New York (see photograph below). The only known surviving original furniture from the grand Chateau of Vaux-le-Viconte is a splendid pair of large marble top center tables of carved oak. 

To make our French oak antiques even more lovable, their prices will be discounted 25% for one week July 14 till 20th.

You may view below a selection from the current stock. 

Please feel free to contact us with any questions or requests you might have by telephone (337) 332-2852, email, or visit our website at Au Vieux Paris Antiques 

For those with astrological interests: The full Oak moon on July 19th will be intensely powerful! 

Click here to see more!

Mes Amities, 

Robert E. Smith 

1040 Henri Penne Rd 
Breaux Bridge, LA 70517

Carved oak doors from Louis XIV’s bedroom at Marly.

To see more of Marly: click here

Classic Louis XV armoire from Burgundy

Henri IV c. 1615 table, all original including two drawers 

Petite commode, great for silverware or jewelry 

Regence tall case clock with excellent carved decor

Petite cabinet, a great fit for many places

Multi-purpose storage and display

Parquet de Versailles: fabulous but not part of this discount sale

Bow front chateau armoire 

 Small armoire from the Isle de France region

Display and storage combined

Transitional Louis XV – XVI commode with original hardware

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French Walnut Celebration!!

25% Discount on walnut antiques July 5th – July 12th ONLY!

Bonjour and welcome to today’s visit to L’Ecole du Bon Gout.

Today’s subject is walnut wood. This wood, which can vary from light to dark, from yellow-brown to red-brown, comes from the Juglans Regia tree in Europe and the Juglans Migra tree in America. 

Walnut has been prized in France by cabinet makers at least as early as the Renaissance for its ability to be carved and lathe turned.This wood continues today to enjoy great popularity, largely because of the rich yet mellow patina achieved from a couple of centuries of waxing and polishing. 

To make the many walnut antiques here at Au Vieux Paris Antiques even more lovable:    ALL WALNUT ANTIQUES WILL BE ON SALE ONE WEEK ONLY JULY 5TH TO JULY 12TH, AT A 25% DISCOUNT!!!

You may view below a selection from the current stock. 

Please contact us with any questions or requests you might have by telephone: (337) 332-2852, Email:, or visit us at our website: Au Vieux Paris Antiques 

Mes Amities,
Robert E. Smith
1040 Henri Penne Rd
Breaux Bridge, LA 70517

 Louis XIII 17th c. armiore from Languedoc region. 

 Thirteen foot long Directiore extension table 

Set of six large chaise au chassis

Louis XIV chateaux armoire from south western France 

lectern maybe for your cook book?

Directiore bed the size to fit a standard American double bed mattress. 

Classic Louis Philippe commode with Gres de St. Anne marble top 

One of a faux pair of Louis XV wall cupboard facades 

Eating table from the “Communite de St Charles” convent in Lyon

 Pair of Directiore “fauteuils officiers” armchairs 

Eating table with Louis XIV turnings

Unusually large demilune table, seats six when opened. 

Unusually large and comfortable Louis XIII sofa