Escape to My Atelier
A Secret Bohemian French Salon in Watertown
Photo by Adam Lerner
Caroline Bossetti grew up in La Rochelle on the west coast of France, southwest of Paris, north of Bordeaux. Her father was “a big loud Italian” from the Milan area, and her mother, the sophisticated one, was French. At night after dinner the men went to the café. The women finished the dishes and then joined them.
“Someone takes up the accordion, you move the tables and everyone dances,” Bossetti says, evoking the scene, her eyes softly glowing with the remembrance of special things past. “I think what helps is the music, the space. You can forget. People feel transported.”
This fabled European lifestyle is as necessary to Bossetti as water—as wine, music, jazz, art, dancing, good conversation, and family. She has spent years fine-tuning a formula for offering an experience rarely found in the States.
First she created W Soirées, pop-up salon events, including a magical evening years ago at the Washington Club with great food, wine, and music by The Lucky Five. That evolved into offering a Parisian-style salon experience in the upstairs room at John’s Café in Woodbury, where Bossetti lives.
On Friday evenings there was wine, music, and flowing conversation. “You could be left alone or you could meet someone you’ve never met before,” Bossetti says. “You could learn about a book, or music.”
It was wonderful, but also temporary, lasting three months. Two years ago this spring, Bossetti launched Old Platform 6 in a 2,800-square-foot, 19th century pin manufacturing space in the Oakville section of Watertown.
Part of the Old Pin Shop complex flanking Route 73 as it descends from Oakville into Waterbury, OP6 is hidden behind the nondescript industrial buildings with the red pedestrian walkways floating above the road. It’s a magnificent place with an atmospheric refinished wood factory floor, 18 large windows, and a 14-foot-high ceiling, furnished with antiques, large tables, wonderful design flourishes, and artwork.
Bossetti struggled with the name—salon, atelier, workshop—but settled on Old Platform 6 in honor of the platform where freight trains arrived and departed. “Nobody gets it,” Bossetti says of the name, “but I never really care.”
Wednesday is the day to discover OP6, open to the public from 9:30 am to 5:30 pm, serving cappuccino, chocolate croissants, and a light lunch. There’s no menu, just a delicious ensemble, including soups and perhaps quiches. There’s free wifi, and an open invitation to linger.
The space is also available on a fee basis for private parties, wedding and baby showers, book clubs and almost any purpose. On Friday evenings, OP6 becomes a BYOB Open Door Music Lounge, with a $10 cover charge for non-members, live music, and “awesome food” from Bossetti’s young chef de cuisine, Colin Marsh.
Technically, OP6 is a private club. An annual membership costs $240, for which members and a guest are granted free admission in some cases, discounts on tickets and private party fees, and more.
Whatever your status, visiting OP6 feels like being a member of a clandestine culture club where you’re a little French, more sophisticated, a bit bohemian, and less troubled by the state of affairs in the world.
“If it all goes away for a few hours, that’s my goal,” says Bossetti. “You will leave this place with a little bit more.