Who doesn’t love discovering a hidden shopping gem while strolling through the streets of a foreign metropolis? For those of us longing for a trip to the City of Lights but still stuck stateside, Marin Montagut’s new book Timeless Paris(Flammarion) is the perfect antidote. The Parisian artist, designer and shop owner has crafted a visual guide to his favorite centuries-old studios and boutiques across the arrondissements, from a family-owned pastel shop first opened in 1870 (fun fact: Impressionist painter Degas was a client) to a mercerie overflowing with buttons, velvet ribbons and silk threads—some of which date back to the early 20th century. Here are just a few of the must-visit shops we’ve earmarked for our next transatlantic journey.
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Marin MontagutRomain Ricard
“In the spirit of this Paris of yesteryear [and] committed to traditional arts and craftsmanship, I opened my first store on Rue Madame, just steps away from the beautiful Luxembourg Gardens that I hold so dear. My signature creations are entirely handmade in my Montmartre studio, including the illusory livres à secrets (hollow books), based on an eighteenth-century tradition, and the vitrines à merveilles (wonder windows) evoking imaginary escapades. I also bring back intriguing and beautiful finds whenever I travel. My love of antique hunting, which stems back to my childhood, has never left me. Each week, I return laden with old globes, apothecary jars, insect display cases, and other curiosities to delight my future visitors.”
“When Galerie Vivienne was inaugurated in 1826, it was considered the capital’s loveliest covered passageway, admired for its neoclassical decor, antiquity-inspired mosaic floor, cupola, and glass roof, which casts radiant natural light over shoppers and passersby. François Jousseaume’s great-grandfather acquired the business in 1890. A true bibliophile who loves his work, François cherishes childhood memories of the store. It is a place steeped in history, situated close to key sites such as the Bibliothèque Nationale de France, the Palais-Royal, and the Grands Boulevards. There are thousands of used books—both antique and more recent—in this generalists’ treasure trove. Visitors have access to a wide-ranging choice of subjects, including natural history, sociology, and art history, as well as fiction and poetry.”
“Ultramod is strategically located near the Palais-Royal, long famed as the hatmakers’ and milliners’ district. The firm’s history spans almost two hundred years; records of a milliner with the same name at this address on Rue de Choiseul can be traced back to 1832. [It’s a] sewing sanctuary, and its decor has remained unchanged. Shelves rise up to the ceiling, the old counter runs the length of the store, and there are numerous patinaed chests of drawers. Whether customers come to purchase exquisite silk velvet ribbons, felt fashioned from rabbit hair, or veiling of the highest quality, they will discover that the inventory has actually expanded over time. Stocks include thirty to forty thousand buttons made of every imaginable material, all arranged by color, as well as an impressive assortment of grosgrain, ribbons, trimmings, and silk and cotton threads in an infinitely varied array of colorful hues.”
A colorful selection of cabinet knobs at À La Providence.Pierre Musellec
“À La Providence is a paean to the expertise of yesteryear. When Nicolas Barbato took over, he was determined to preserve the authenticity of the original furnishings: the wooden counter, walls covered with shelving, a cashier’s station with glass partitions, and the front door that still displays the former owner’s name spelled out in enameled lettering.
“When a client arrives with a special request, he leafs through the catalog: an incredible record of the past, in which each accessory has been painstakingly drawn by hand. The store attracts customers from around the world, all in search of accessories and other articles, made specially in France, that can only be found here: bronze ornaments produced from the Louis XIII era until the 1930s, newel post finials made from sparkling faceted genuine crystal, and exquisite lock faceplates fashioned from mother-of-pearl or mammoth ivory.”