March 08 2011
Cire Trudon is famous as France’s oldest surviving candlemaker, manufacturing uninterrupted since the mid-17th century and noted equally for its elegant candles in glasses, emblazoned with a gilded beehive to remind us where wax historically came from, its pillar candles with contrasting cameos and its wax busts of French luminaries such as Napoleon and Marie Antoinette. I’ve always been partial to the store’s heroically 18th-century ambience and its interesting, slightly unexpected fragrances – Roi Soleil, based on Versailles’ waxed wood floors, is my favourite.
I have always thought of them, though, as an indulgence or a gift – prices start at about £55. Now I have discovered an aspect of Cire Trudon that is a daily essential instead. Above my dining table sits a Scandinavian chandelier with narrow candle-holders that, in Britain, few candles fit. But in Cire Trudon’s delightfully nostalgic Left Bank shop in Paris – think toile de Jouy and dark, polished wood – I found a complete wall of table and chandelier candles of every length and colour imaginable, straight or tapered, each variety stored in its own square niche. All are apparently 2cm in diameter but with a long, tapered base they can be fitted into virtually any holder.
They derive from the plain wax dinner candles that Marie Antoinette named Les Trudonnes. The colour choice is so vast that you can make fantasy decisions for any table setting you may be planning, though in the end I chose a rich, natural honey colour to go with the room’s Mediterranean tones. At €1.70 each, they have supplied at least two dinners’ worth of fully-functioning chandelier for under £10. The snag is that the candles are currently available only in Paris, but a pilgrimage to the Left Bank on any trip to Paris is not exactly a hardship. And later this year Cire Trudon will open a store in central London which will stock these candles.