Who does not love France? Belgium? Europe for that matter in regards to style and taste. Those dreaming to build or building out their dream home, who have traveled to these areas, understand acutely what I am saying. The materials are sublime. The colors are rich or subdued, the textures are glorious in their patina and historic relevance knows no time frame or trend.
I have just described the interior space of Pavé Tile, Wood & Stone, Inc. It is that remarkable. One client yesterday from Maine remarked he was a kid in a candy store. With private appointments - this jewel box of a showroom is a sea of over 70 installations of only reclaimed and aged French and Belgian stone and wood flooring as well as French reclaimed terra cotta tiles and then some...
It is just an objective fact that Pavé Tile, Wood & Stone, Inc. is one of the best showrooms in the Nation for these incredible materials. It is also a fact that it is not in a big city - but set back among pine trees and farmlands in the heart of Western Massachusetts.
How odd. As a curious person myself - my first question would be why??
Well - for those who are curious, too - I will let you know.
This is not a blog François wants me to write. However, I am. For all of you searching for these materials - I want you to know the backstory of my husband and why we are here. Pavé does not exist because of a relation opening doors for us and handing us money. Pavé exists because of the will and endurance and quest for beauty and perfection that is François.
Sigh...sigh...this is a story that continually breaks my heart and at the same time surges with incredible pride. Ok...here it goes...not sure where it will lead...but in these times, it is a fitting story about the heart, France and her beautiful materials.
In the image below, François is with his boy scout troop exploring an abandoned manor home in France. He is the second one from the left.
A Frenchman in the Woods
At 19 years old, with a camping tent, pocket knife and a few changes of clothes, François left Nice, France to the only place he knew in the United States – the woods of Western, Massachusetts. Known to him from a boy scout troop visit at 15, he fled here with a slight command of English, as his only option from the heaviness he endured at home.
Thirty-two years later, François is unable to reflect on the first four months living in those woods. Camping in his tent, one meal a day, braving weather and long nights – his perception of isolation and loss of his childhood are too palpable in his memory for him to ever discuss.
There are few men who have the endurance and unyielding will to survive like I have seen from François. From boyhood to manhood, he never worked a day in his life for anybody. Gifted with talented hands and a sharp mind, François taught himself carpentry while living in those woods, and began constructing Adirondack chairs to sell by the side of the road. As the months passed and with more confidence in his craft, he earned money by becoming a handyman that soon became a business of building patios and additions for local residences.
At 21, missing the beauty of French aesthetics and building materials, François opened his first tile showroom, called Tile Unlimited, showcasing handmade tiles from Provence. The beauty of the South of France enamored many in this sleepy New England town, and soon François had a crew in toe where he installed kitchens and bathrooms to meticulous perfection.
As the years progressed, so did François. Opening Pavé Tile, Wood & Stone, Inc. in 2000 as a showcase for reclaimed French limestone and French oak flooring, François’ close and mature relationships with French and Belgian suppliers have helped Pavé grow and exceed expectations of clients who understand how hard it is to navigate getting quality material from trusted sources.
There were many opportunities at that point to move to a big city - to open up that big showroom. However, François remained here.
Pavé Tile, Wood & Stone, Inc. is just 30 minutes south of those woods from where the 19-year-old François began his journey. Pavé is François’ mark on this world. Every installation he has done is with exactitude and respect for these noble materials. His bar to reach perfection often means demolishing installations not even 6 months old to be replaced with even more exquisite flooring.
His clients ask him from time to time why is Pavé not in a big city? How odd this location is for such a jewel box of a showroom. The answer is simple and profound, but he would never tell you. A shy and discreet man - it takes his somewhat embolden wife to answer this question.
It is my thought that the woods that surround him were his haven to grow-up safely while discovering himself and his talents. It was his refuge and he literally survived here. However, with France deeply missed, working with these materials - François unknowingly created a daily bridge to his childhood and French culture that he yearns for to this day. Simply, Pavé keeps France close to François’ heart and finally - the woods of Western Massachusetts are the lucky ones. They have beared witness to a French boy grow-up into a French man, as noble as his materials.
I am hoping François does not make me take down this blog...we will see!
We are still adding collections and installing additional materials - so when you do come for a visit - even more to see!
Thank you for your time,
Co-founder Historic Decorative Materials, a Division of Pavé Tile, Wood & Stone, Inc.
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