A Centrepiece for Any Room - The Beauty of A French Chandelier

By: Corina Clemence

Never before in the long history of the chandelier has there been such choice as there is today. You can buy in person or over the internet. You can scour the brocante stalls in French markets or the junk shops in England or America.

When you hang a French chandelier in your home you acquire something practical and beautiful and an object that will become a focus for the room. All other decorations will revolve around it. It will become a talking point, the centrepiece. A fireplace draws attention to a lower level in a room; a chandelier is the highest point of a room's decoration.

The type of chandelier which is associated with French work is more open with its main structural support supplied not by a stem or chains but rather by a cage or frame with prettily curved members, often gilded and with candles or drops in the centre space. Like English chandeliers, they have pendants and chains of drops.

The difference is that instead of being massed together, they are however spaced further apart so that they can be seen individually. The effect is extremely ornate and delicate without being elaborate.

The ironwork on French chandeliers by the 1900s was superbly attractive and refined. The stem might have stalks and leaves curling off it supporting crystal drops, beads and flowers. For all the festoons and bags drops, glass arms, full panoply of other elements, the French chandelier is distinctively never heavy or crowded and always alluring.

Chandeliers come in all sizes and shapes - some more unusual than others. Amongst some of the most eccentric charming chandeliers are those designed to represent hot-air balloons. The early nineteenth century saw a wave of enthusiasm for hot-air balloons, prompted by the first balloon flight by the Montgolfier brothers, Michel and Joseph travelling through the air for some six miles in 1783. Some Montgolfier chandeliers are French others Italian.

Perhaps the longest established and best known chandelier maker in France is the firm of Baccarat, which continues to thrive today.

One of the things you need to be completely sure of is that your chandelier is safe; that when it is installed it will stay up, it won't shed pieces on your head and it won't electrocute anyone or burn the house down.

If you bought you chandelier from a brocante or a market you should use common sense about its wiring. Any chandelier is only as safe as good electrically speaking as the circuit of which it is part. Have it tested by a qualified electrician and rewired if you are at all in doubt.

If you find some crystals missing on your chandelier do not fret as replacements can be ordered from specialist chandelier shops who normally stock a large array of crystals for this very purpose. You can also buy additional crystals to dress up your chandelier including coloured pendants, and flowers and crystals. I like to buy bucket loads of French pendalogues (they look like little ballerinas) when ever I see them at a brocante for hanging off the Christmas tree.

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Corina Clemence loves french chandeliers and runs Chateau du Guerinet a luxury chateau in the Loire Valley near Blois, for up to 15 people perfect for visiting vineyards, castles and relaxing. The chateau can be hired exclusively for a holidya with friends and family or a wedding, or the six luxury rooms can be rented individually. www.loirechateau.com Rent castle France. Hire Loire Valley castle.

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