Sèvres porcelain made its debut in the mid 18th century and eventually became synomymous with high quality, thanks to the patronage of Louis XV. It was the tradition for the French royal family to order a new service each year something that eventually got Marie Antoinette into a heap of trouble.
The Sèvres workshops are still in business just across the Seine from the city of Paris and while you can't watch the masters at work except under special arrangements, you can visit the adjacent Musee nationale de ceramique. Hop on line 9, ride to the end of the line to the west, cross the Pont de Sèvres, and boom you're there. Even if you're not an afficianado, it's hard not to be impressed by this stuff. There are massive urns and tiny tea sets as well as ceramics from many other countries and periods. After you visit this place, you'll never look at your coffee cup in the same way ever again. And it might just inspire you to do stop saving your grandmother's china for special occasions and instead dine like a king at every possible opportunity.