There’s lots of gold in Paris – this should be no surprise as luxe and grandeur have been the motto for French rulers and presidents throughout the city’s history. As the French and Europeans figured out long ago, nothing says wealth and power quite so well and quite so publicly as gold. And once you start become a chercheur d’or (goldseeker) in Paris, you start to see gilt and glitter everywhere.

Some eye-popping examples include the angels on top of the Palais Garnier, the dome of Les Invalides, the golden gates of the Parc Monceau, the Pont Alexandre III, and even the decorative touches at the Place Vendôme.

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French culinary gurus can’t be left out of the gold fest either. Paris pastry purveyor Dalloyau routinely decorates its confections with edible gold. Note this luscious chocolate and raspberry gâteau topped with gold bits.

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Dalloyau’s Easter candy this year took a decidedly sparkling turn with its large chocolate eggs laden with edible gold leaf. Not sure how the beehive design relates to Easter eggs…? But the chocolate and gold eggs sported a clever name: “Or série” (Gold Series) which also sounds like the French expression “Hors série”, meaning ‘special edition’ or ‘custom made.’

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Last month, our Paris Antiques Trip group was treated to a gold spectacular at the exquisite Musée Jacquemart-André. The museum is in the midst of renovating its Tapestry Room, in particular the floor-to-ceiling gilded molding. The Salon des Tapisseries was a fascinating study in golden renewal.

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As we walked through on our way to the east wing of the mansion, French artisans were applying thin sheets of gold leaf to the decorative woodwork. The two-by-two layers were lightly dusted onto the wood with a bristle brush. This technique allowed the gold to settle gently into the molding’s cracks and crevices. First, however, the artisans had painted the woodwork with a deep red varnish which presumably allows the gold to take on a deep richness once it’s applied.

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Once the gold was placed over the red varnish, it had a fluffy almost wispy look. Then it was tamped down and sealed into place making it (mostly) impervious to knicks and scratches.

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Here is a great view of the finished gilt (upper left), the gold leaf in progress (lower left) and the red preparatory varnish (upper right).

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As one might imagine, the gilding process was a bit messy. There were flecks of gold and gold dust everywhere – it also stuck to the faces and outfits of the artisans. As we left, some even found its way onto our shoes. All in all, it was quite a gold rush – an unforgettable and intimate glimpse of gold in Paris.