Ok don’t hate me, but I really don’t like Paris.
I’M SORRY, IT’S TRAVEL BLASPHEMY.
But it’s true. After visiting Paris twice in my life, I will commit to saying that it’s near the bottom of my list of favorite places. That isn’t to say that I’m not open to Paris’s allure and charm grabbing me by the arm and dragging me (and a bottle of wine and some cheese) to the most hidden amazing spots full of friendly people and forcing me to love the place– it just hasn’t happened yet.
A year-and-a-half ago (I can’t believe it’s been that long!) I went on a two-week long trip through five countries with one of my best friends and we ended it with five days in Paris. My friend has always loved Paris and I totally see how she fits in there. Never-ending class and effortless beauty are just two ways to describe her persona, and those are both keys to fitting into the Parisian scene. Then there’s me, with a bright yellow zip-up from American Apparel as my only “jacket” and a pair of zebra print sneakers to really class things up.
From the get go I felt out of place in Paris, more like a tourist than I’ve ever felt, and just totally scrubby and underdressed. For five days. There’s no denying that Paris is beautiful. Once glimpse of the sparkling Eiffel Tower can suck you into a romantic fairytale, and the Louvre and surrounding Tuileries Gardens are extremely picturesque. But the complicated streets of the City of Love and it’s absurdly high prices are just a turn off for me. Not to mention the extremely rude shopkeeper I encountered while buying a bottle of wine one evening (I’m personally boycotting the chain Nicolas for the rest of eternity).
Of my five days in Paris there were a few redeeming factors. One was the adorable hotel we “splurged” on, Hotel de Nesle, one was visiting Monet’s house and gardens in Giverny, and one was a day trip from Paris to Maison Picassiette in the cute little town of Chartres. Our lovely friend who spent a year studying in Paris suggested this day trip to us as we had both been to Paris before and wanted to do some new and exciting things and this was definitely a great option.
So- what is the Maison Picassiette? Well… its a house. But not just any house. It’s a lovely house covered from foundation to roof in beautiful mosaics. Not one inch of space has been left plain and simple. But I’ll explain more on that later.
Anyway, what should have been a simple train ride to Chartres ended up costing us almost double the normal price due to the fact that the ticket seller misinterpreted our whack pronunciation of Chartres to mean something different. But what’s done is done, and in the end we arrived to Chartres in one piece. We hopped on the local 4 bus (take it towards Le Madeliene) and got off at the Picassiette stop. If I remember correctly, you must cross the street at the nearest intersection (behind you) and walk up Rue de Repos until you arrive at number 22 on the right. It’s a bit hidden but you shouldn’t have a problem finding it.
Tickets to enter cost 5,50€, and a student ticket is 2,70€. Under 18s are free. Unfortunately, this lovely place is closed in the winter from December 1st until March 31.
So… what makes this place so special?
I mean… look at it! It’s spectacular! Taking photos is prohibited and since the place is pretty small and they have a girl circling around to prevent sneaky photos, it was a bit difficult to capture how beautiful it was. Luckily I have ninja-like stealthy skills and was able to snap some shots while my friend was quite literally on the look-out behind my back. I had my big DSLR (less stealthy) and my iPod (less quality) so between the two I got some decent shots, but this place is totally worth it in my opinion.
Here’s the story behind it. It all began with Raymond Isidore back in 1938. He began to decorate the walls inside the home with small pieces of broken glass and plates because he loved the way it looked. He then began covering not only the walls, but floors, ceilings and furniture, as well as the outside of the house and garden.
I was completely blown away by this place! As it turns out, this guy ended up working on his masterpiece for nearly thirty years! And sadly, just two years after he finished, when he was 65, he passed away. I wish I could have taken more pictures to truly do this amazing little home justice. Mr. Isidore spent almost half of his life putting his heart into decorating the home that he built from scratch and you can truly see how passionate he was and the extreme detail that went into the job.
In all, I’d totally recommend Chartres for a day trip from Paris. Maison Picassiette is the perfect little attraction, and afterwards (or before) you can enjoy the charming sites of Chartres. There is a beautiful cathedral and lots of lively squares where you can grab a delicious crepe and enjoy some good people watching.
So, have you ever been to Paris? What are you favorite day trips? Should I give Paris another chance? Let me know in the comments!
For more information on Maison Picassiette and visiting Chartres, check out this English-version Chartres tourism site.
Did you enjoy this post? For more like this and other interesting insights, make sure you sign up below to receive new posts right in your e-mail inbox! And don’t forget to like Andalucía Bound on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram to keep up with the day-to-day!