Tuesday, September 8, 2015

Take a bit of Paris home with you: La Charlotte de l'Isle

Remember that charming Paris patisserie pictured in my imagined Paris vacation post a couple weeks back? How could you forget it?

So often we see such places on vacation, enjoy eating or shopping there, and wish we could either (1) stay there forever or (2) take it home with us.

Little did you know you can take it home with you, albeit figuratively, by letting it inspire your decor. And every time you walk into a room thus inspired, the pleasure of that vacation day will wash over you again.

To get to La Charlotte de l'Isle, you must take the metro to Pont Marie and walk across the bridge to the Île Saint-Louis, one of the Seine River's three natural islands in the Paris area. Originally the island was used to graze cattle, but kings Henri IV and Louis XIII mapped out and developed it from end-to-end in the 17th century.

Now it's mostly residential (and quite elegant at that!), but many picturesque shops and buildings line its narrow one-way streets. The island has long been described as a city (No, a quiet haven!) within the bustling city of Paris, and island residents generally shop and do their business within its borders.

La Charlotte de l'Isle is at 24 rue Saint-Louis en l'Ile.


By all means, let's go in


The shop name translates, "The Island of Charlotte." So it is an island within the island that is a city within the city of Paris. Cute, but it gets better.


The shop opened in 1972...


...and has in recent years been renovated and enlarged. 


But what hasn't changed is its reputation for serving the best cup of hot chocolate in Paris (it pours like molten lava), a plethora of teas, decadent chocolate cake and other goodies. They set a lovely table, too--chocolate-colored dishes and coral napkins! Anyone else notice a pattern here?



And I mustn't forget their chocolate candies made from antique molds.



The Island of Charlotte also hosts marionette shows and impromptu musical performances.

Here’s what the New York Times said about it:
…absolutely favorite place for hot chocolate is La Charlotte de l’Isle, a cluttered, almost alarmingly charming little cafe on the Île St-Louis run by a flamboyant woman of a certain age who could probably tell great stories of la vie de bohème after a carafe or two of wine. Rich, bittersweet, dreamily good, hers is the absinthe of hot chocolate.

Find inspiration, no matter your style


Lots to inspire here, down to the artfully made cookies at left, dipped in chocolate and topped with pistachios, a color that shows up on my inspiration board as well!

I use Pinterest to create boards like this, some public, some private. You can also paste photos into a computer file, collect photos and swatches in an old-fashioned file folder, or pin items to a cork or magnetic board. Out of some 200 pins, here's what I chose as my favorites...


SOURCES...(1) Fabrics: "Well Connected," aqua/orange colorway, Lilly Pulitzer for Lee Jofa; "Catawba Rhododendron," coral/green/black colorway, George and Gracie; "Thai Tale," radish colorway, Waverly. (2) Paint inspirations: pastel-tipped artist's brushes; macarons in traditional colors (including chocolate!), available in "Paris Sweets" shopping link on this page; "Sorbet Paint Chips" fabric, Mark Hordyszynski for Michael Miller, colors include black, coral, green, blue, pink, brown and grey. (3) Household accessories: Gustavia rug, citron, John F. for Fiezy, available online only from Target; round knob with Paris stamp, Hobby Lobby; shop table service; sea urchin sugar bowl and teapot, aqua/coral respectively, both accented in 14-karat gold, L'Objet; Paris Map Pink Indoor/Outdoor Pillow, Holli Zollinger for DENY Designs, available in "Paris Decor" shopping link on this page.


Live it up...


Found on Simply Hue Designs

This room has a retro vibe going and a boho, no-holds-barred approach to color. The chimney cupboard ups the choco factor, and I'm betting the real stuff is hidden in that box in the foreground. Somebody check, and remember to share!


Found on We Heart It.

A more traditional approach than the previous room for sure, but oozing in comfort. I'm loving the fabric used for the draperies and pillows, as well as that graceful Greek key side/leg on the coffee table.


Photo by Larnie Nicolson from her book New Zealand Interior Style, October 2013.

This room has almost as much going on as the original Charlotte Island, and it's just as "alarmingly charming." I love how all shades of coral find a home here (and Mr. Pooch is a cutie-patootie, too).


Emily Henderson room 

The "living large" rendition of our inspiration board, and it's big on velvet, one of my faves. See/read more about the renovation of this home on the blog of designer and TV show host Emily Henderson.


Room by Hillary Thomas

More velvet! Yes, Virginia, there IS a Santa Claus. Love the furry pillow, and sure would like a closer look at the dish on the table between the chairs. Chocolate, do you think? See more by Hillary Thomas Designs.


Take time out...


Found on Annie's Color Crush

Did anyone say summer? How about beach? This room says it all and has it all, including the look of our inspiration board. The stripes look so refreshing, and I love the idea of a brightly colored, textured blanket instead of a bedspread.


Found on Inspiration for Home

What teenage girl wouldn't give her eye teeth for a room like this? Come to think of it, I would too. The canopy is so sweet and looks easy to make. Love-love-love the intensity of the coral sheets.



All I can say is, oh la la! This room is so French, from the headboards to the fabrics to the cute little neckroll pillows. The lumbar pillows behind the neckrolls remind me of the vines twining around the windows at Charlotte's.



A liberal dose of pistachio sets the coral whirring. I'm head-over-heels for the flamingo neckroll and that cute lamp. The white tulip bowl would be a great place for--you guessed it--chocolate.


Found on Decorologist

Big on aqua with just a smidge of pistachio in the printed throw pillow on the bed, this room sings Charlotte's praises with those incredible seaweed and coral panels. I could sleep soundly here, after my pitcher of cocoa, of course.


Gather and greet...


HGTV, Color by Color

This coral leans toward pink but is still gorgeous. I love the "church pew" seating and the funky paint color for such a dignified table. Painting the back of the cuboard shelves a deep plum was a stroke of genius. This is an inexpensive look to achieve, in my book, because it's all about the paint. You could use existing furniture, whatever the style, and bring the look together with the paint and a few pillows. You probably already have vases and such to repurpose for the cabinet arrangement.


Found on Chinoiserie Chic

The reflection of the outdoors in the mirror above the settee reminds me of sitting inside Charlotte's looking out. The view is great however you look at it.


Better Homes and Gardens

What could be more Parisienne than toile paired with a black-and-white-tiled floor? And what could be more Charlotte than CORAL toile, surrounded with all those leaves and light?



The color-blocking in this kitchen/mudroom is stunning. The coral pulls you forward without overwhelming you. What a pick-me-up to be greeted by that every day! It just might get me cooking again.


Found on HGTV

Designer Judy O'Neil Labins is all over Charlotte's look in this corally-keen kitchen. See more of her work at Shafer O'Neil Interior Design.

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