Paris: 6 Favorite Museum Gift Shop Boutiques

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I love Paris in the winter when it glitters, Abbesses Photos by Theadora Brack

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Fashion Dolls rocking out at the Musée de la Poupée

By Theadora Brack

With the linen crisp postcard perfect holidays sauntering our way, here’s a  list of my favorite museum shops in Paris. Not in France? Fret not. Most of the boutiques listed below have websites and offer international shipping. So bend an elbow and crack a bottle of suds. La vie est belle!

1. Musée de la Poupée
Impasse Berthaud, Métro: Rambuteau

Here at the Musée de la Poupée, stylish Sybarite dolls coolly hold court at the entrance to a shop stocked with hundreds of other poupées du monde.  Created by Charles Fegen and Desmond Lingard for the museum, the Sybarites were inspired by the 17th century French fashion dolls called les Pandores.

Flashback

Before catalogs, wish books, and websites, the Parisian fashion industry used articulated dolls to market their creations, targeting and attracting an international clientele for the first time. All dolled-up, they were sent from Paris to clients and dress makers throughout the world.

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Le Baiser (Limited Edition Snow Globe-Photo courtesy Musée Rodin )

Always ahead of the curve, even Henri IV sent “jointed babies” to his fiancé Marie de Medici in Italy so that she would arrive at court in Paris wearing only the best glad rags, trumping all.

 

What’s up, Doc? Got a broken doll or a one-eyed sock monkey? La Docteur Miracle is usually on call on Thursday afternoons, and will gladly mend eyeballs, replace lashes and repair heads. Also, the shop carries catalogs, postcards, and miniature clothing ensembles. Ask for the works.

2. Musée Rodin
77 rue de Varenne, Métro: Varenne or Invalides

Curated and stocked by Alberto Brusamolino, there’s beaucoup to appreciate about the Musée Rodin’s shop. Gushing, here you’ll find replica sculptures, books, catalogs, stationary, jewelry, tote bags, and textiles. There’s also a online boutique.

After visiting Rodin’s muscular marvels, I often find myself lingering in the shop in order to prolong the amorous feeling that all that bronze and marble just induced. Telling awe, it does the trick every time. After your spree, take a stroll around Le Jardin. Here a kiss is still a kiss. Play it again, Sam.

3. Musée national de la Marine
17 place du Trocadéro, Métro: Trocadéro

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Rock the Boat at the Musée national de la Marine

All aboard! The French maritime museum’s artifacts range from Napoleon’s gilded ceremonial barge (with all 24 golden oars still intact!), the Carmagnolle brothers’ diving suit (at 800 pounds, those brothers were heavy indeed), to toy boats that once belonged to the young Louis XV.

Tips Ahoy

The Musée de la Marine’s shop is also a charmer. Long and narrow like a romantically lit ship’s salon, you’ll think you’re hearing waves softly lapping against the hull as you browse. You’ll spy ocean liner posters, postcards, books, toy sailors, model ships, and striped shirts by designer Jean Paul Gaultier. Pinch yourself, Matey. Even the bags are suited in stripes. Now that’s an outfit!

Stars and Stripes

But who hasn’t been touched by the bold and beautiful stripes of the traditional nautical shirts of Brittany (the coastal region where the iconic French striped shirt originated)?

Described by Hemingway as, “very stiff and built for hard wear but softened by washings,” this look not only hooked appealingly rugged types like Picasso and Hemingway, but also lured Chanel, Rykiel, Schiaparelli, Jean Seberg, Brigitte Bardot, and Audrey Hepburn, just to name a few!

4. Fragonard Musée du Parfum
9 rue Scribe, Métro: Opéra

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Sweet Dreams at the Fragonard Musée du Parfum

Located just a hop, skip and pirouette from the Opéra Garnier, here you’ll not only rub elbows with vintage bottles, powder boxes and labels, but you’ll also learn how perfume is made in Grasse, the old fragrance hub of the world.

Sweet Dreams

Tip: Don’t miss the gift shop because it’s here where you’ll find exhibited several more of the museum gems. Look for my favorite: a candle-snuffer-shaped number called “Sleeping,” created by Elsa Schiaparelli in 1938.

Inspired by the harlequin figures in Man Ray’s “Le Beaux Temps” painting, the scent was launched in conjunction with Schiap’s springtime “Commedia dell’ arte” collection. Rag ads illustrated by Marcel Vertès sweetly cooed that if worn at bedtime, “Sleeping” would “light the way to ecstasy.” Oh, la la.

Swelling the breeze, Schiaparelli also worked with artists Jean Cocteau and Salvador Dali. Her Place Vendôme “Schiap Shop” resembled a giant gilded birdcage made of painted bamboo. A publicity maven, she’d launch her collections with circus performances in the middle of the square, complete with elephants and daredevil tightrope walkers!

5. Musée des Les Arts Décoratifs
107 rue de Rivoli
Métro: Palais Royale–Musée du Louvre

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Hello Dolly at the Musée des Les Arts Décoratifs

Designed by Bruno Moinard, the Musée des Les Arts Décoratifs boasts extensive and well-organized shelves of books, jewelry, and stationary. I’ve never been able to pop by the shop without buying a book or a heavy slew. I’ve tried but no can do.

Moveable Feast

Here you’ll also be wooed by modern and funky table linens, candle holders, vases, dinnerware, stemware, and flatware. I recently scored a set of gold speckled table linens made by Les Arts Decoratifs for €4. Versailles-worthy entertaining just got easier.

6. Centre Pompidou
19 Rue Beaubourg, Métro: Rambuteau

Easy access is just one of the reasons I still fancy the Pompidou’s Librairie Flammarion Centre. Nestled on the right hand side of the spacious forum, it’s Bee-line-able. Like the Louvre, the shop frequently discounts its deep inventory of books and catalogs.

Lofty ceilings, wide aisles and indirect lighting make for easy browsing. Here you’ll find films, stationary, calendars, and notebooks stacked on enormous tables as high as the eye of Napoleon’s plaster elephant. Keep a lookout for my favorite skinny “C’est à ne pas oublier” notebooks in black, orange, and cherry red.

If you need a little mod design to-go, cross the vast lobby to the mezzanine level on the left, where the Boutique Printemps Design will dazzle you with a range of designer knick-knacks. Glitter abounds. So keep your head!

Happy Hunting! And as Schiaparelli used to say, “Dare to be different!”

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Shall we dance at the Musée des Les Arts Décoratifs

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“Sleeping” by Schiaparelli, Publication Unknown, 1946

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“Sleeping” by Schiaparelli, Vogue, March 15, 1944

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“Sleeping” by Schiaparelli, New Yorker, April 8, 1950

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71 thoughts on “Paris: 6 Favorite Museum Gift Shop Boutiques

  1. I get home from getting my shot de flu and what do I find but Paris by you. I just adore going around the city of light with you mon cheri ! Every trip is a fantastic joy with lots to learn and treasure for my next real time trip to La belle ville de Paris!

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    • Flu shots are important. As always, thank you for the sweet words! Say, do you have a favorite Schiaparelli perfume? Or does your heart and nose belong only to Coco Chanel? Have you reviewed a “Schiap” scent? It’s a shame time-travel is not available. I’d love to trek it back a few decades, and visit her birdcage shop and test a few perfumes. What would I try? Mulling it over now. . .Perhaps Zut (1949). . .T. (Again, Bon Anniversaire!!)

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      • No I have never tested a Schiaparelli!!! What would be a good beginning for me to dive into with a big surrealist hat on my head?
        Time Machine? You must have loved Woody Allen’s Midnight In Paris!

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      • YES. I’ve seen the Woody Allen flick many, many times! A Schiaparelli scent. Throwing on my thinking cap, now. For starters, maybe Schiap’s “Shocking” scent? Launched in 1937, the bottle was inspired by Mae West’s figure. The whimsical ads are fantastic. I’ll keep mulling it over. “Snuff” is another possibility. The original formula was created around 1940. Again, the artwork is fun! T.

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  2. I know, I know…I praise ALL of your posts, but this one spoke to me on a personal level. Properly, I should have a response post to explain myself, but I’ll try to consolidate.
    1. I have an almost identical photo of the Holiday street lights but mine was taken in Oviedo. It’s something about the repetition of luminosity or something.
    2. A HEMINGWAY quote about Breton stripes no less! Avast ye matey, indeed!
    3. I am absolutely a museum gift shop addict. It’s my favorite shopping above all others…I got chills at your title alone! You know I’m prone to hyperbole, but this is sooooo true. (And, yes, I appreciate the irony in the ‘soooo’.)

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    • Doll, love your enthusiasm!! As you know, I grew up outside of Washington, D.C, so entire weekends were spent discovering museum-lined National Mall in Washington D.C. (with kazoos in hand). Visits to the museum shops were part of the game plan. I recall sobbing once after finding out the Supreme Court Building didn’t have a gift shop!

      Do you have a favorite museum shop in the world? The shops at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York and the American Visionary Art Museum in Baltimore top my list. You’d love the shops at Versailles! There’s even a gardening boutique! T.

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      • Gosh, is the Met the one that’s two stories high and it’s basically a toy store for grown ups? It’s gotten to the point where I’d just rather go to the gift shop…countless field trips from fifth grade through high school I feel exhausted the museum part. The husband bought me the most bad-ass sake carafe and cups for my anniversary at that gift shop. Oh, how could I forget the shop at the Van Gogh museum in Amsterdam? The Prado in Madrid is nice but you can go outside and buy the exact same stuff from this daily flea market in the park across the street.
        *The weirdest museum ever? The National Bottle Museum in Ballston Spa, NY (next to Saratoga). It was basically a 50s store front. I imagine they used to sell vacuum cleaners there or something.
        *The biggest irony? My all-time favorite museum (since I can’t remember Versailles) being the Frick on 70th Street has no gift shop! If you want a souvenir you have to order it from the website!

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    • YES. The Musée des Les Arts Décoratifs is the PERFECT place for you—the Nancy Drew of the Eye-popping, Funky and Fun Design Trends! Did you make it there during your recent jaunt to Paris? T.

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    • Ring-a-ding-DING. Correct answer, Monsieur Tin Man! How did you know? I guess I wear my obsessions on my 3/4 polyester sleeve. YES. It would be much fun to shop with you and Virginia. One day!! T. (And speaking of daydreams, I’m still thinking about your nod to Fells Point and Baltimore. What a scrumptious treat!)

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  3. Another posts so quickly–what bliss! The biggest thing I recall about Musée Rodin from when I was there many, many years ago, was wanting to touch everything which, of course, you aren’t supposed to do. :-/ As for books and notebooks…two of my very favorite things!! Enjoy!

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    • I love your story about the Musée Rodin! Great story. I think you’re able to touch a few statues at the Louvre, by the way. YES. I’m with you. I’ve got a mad penchant for collecting books, catalogs, magazines and notebooks. Whenever I travel, I always have to purchase additional baggage. It’s a problem. I’m also running out of bookshelf space! T. (Enjoy the weekend!)

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      • I’ve been out of bookshelf space for years. One of my hopes is to one day have a library room, even if it’s just filled with inexpensive shelves, where I can have all my books out! As much as I love my Kindle, especially for travel, I won’t get rid of my books. With baggage today’s baggage restrictions, getting another bag isn’t even always an affordable option.

        Have a great weekend yourself.

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  4. First, I must tell you, Mlle B. I LOVE the ‘linen’ application…it is stunningly realistic, and the use of linen fiber made the postcards not only a bit more expensive, but they lasted (as the keepsakes they should be) almost forever!

    I never wore Schaiparelli Parfum, but back in the day of ‘bas de nylons’, I would only buy Schaparelli stockings! I believe they were the first to introduce the deeper, gray tones…which my Mother loved so much (she wore a lot of black when she dressed to go out!). Those Schiap posters are marvelous though!

    Don’t you wish the holiday lights could be kept glowing all year? Those in Abbesses are so lovely…and the glow looks so cheerily festive (and is very kind to wrinkled old skin–I suppose?). Merci, Mlle B….pour un autre tour fantastique!

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    • Well, thank you!! By the way, your Photoshop experimentation inspired my overall post “linen look.” So thanks also for that!

      Schiaparelli stockings? Fun! Every blue moon, I spot a pair at the flea markets. For the love of vintage, maybe I’ll start collecting. The packaging is fantastic. I love her signature “shocking pink.” And I also loved your story about your Mother. So “Schiap” was responsible for the launch darker hosiery. Interesting! I didn’t know this. What a great tidbit. Did your Mother have a favorite shop or designer?

      YES. Soft holiday lighting and pink light bulbs are always kind! According to Virginia, pink bulbs are still available on the market. Whew!

      (I am digging your Chicago holiday photography window series. I’m looking forward to seeing the Christmas trees and the first snowfall. Any predictions?)

      B.

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      • Schiaps came three pair to the lovely pink box, wrapped, fo course, in pink tissue! They lasted longer than other brands, and felt so silky, though they were only nylon.

        Among Mother’s talents (NOT cooking) was the fact that she was an excellent seamstress, and could adjust patterns, and had a wonderful eye for color and just the right fabric…that talent brought in extra money until she began work outside the home.

        I can find both pink and amber lights through the wholesale florists here in Chicago…used the amber once, but the client hated it, thought it was “too damn dim!”

        Thanks…and no predictions, as I’ll know when my left forearm (which I broke at 5 yrs) begins to ache…that’s the signal for snow (IMHO!)

        A bientot, Mlle B.!

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      • Thanks to your lovely story about your fashionable Mother, I’ve officially kicked off my “Schiap” hosiery hunt over the weekend. Both the quest and research have been fascinating. It will make a fab post. Merci!! B.

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      • De rien, Mlle B., je suis heureux! So hoping you can find some…they were wonderful, nothing like the pantyhose/tights we have these days for the masses!

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    • MERCI. I love the maritime museum. It’s such a cozy place to visit on a chilly day. It has a great location, to boot. I love strolling through the nearby little park. I’m off now to look up its name. . .T.

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  5. a delight of temptations dear friend… must plan our next visit to the beautiful city and her museums 🙂

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    • YES. YES. YES. T. (And thanks to you, I’ve added Bodie to my travel list. I haven’t been able to stop thinking about the ghost town. Your photographs were so beautiful and haunting. So many artifacts! I’m now obsessed. And Deano, there’s even an online bookshop!)

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      • I was at the Musee d’ Orsay for the impressionist retrospective. Only in Paris a couple of days and just had to visit the fabric district, spent the day round Abbesses and loved it. Plan to go back Springtime, not qualified to score tho. : )

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      • I love fabric shopping in Paris! The Marché Saint Pierre and the Tissus Reine are two of my favorite fabric shops. If you return, stop by the Halle Saint Pierre Museum. The art museum is located smack dab in the middle of the fabric district in Montmartre. And they sometimes show textile-related exhibitions! It’s the perfect place to take a break. There’s a café and a bookshop. Enjoy the week! T.

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    • Ah, thanks, Roberto! The Halle Saint Pierre Art Museum in Montmartre also has a great bookshop, along with café with a killer view of Sacré Coeur. Homemade quiché and red wine are on the menu! Heaven. T. (Again, bravo on your exhibition! Say, are you selling your beautiful scarves and postcards at the gallery? Are your website?)

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  6. Next time I go to Paris I am not going to go without you! Until then I shall thrill to the sound of the internet till for holiday shopping. That’s the good intention and thank you Theodora for the inspiration. Your linen shots are divine.

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    • Thank you, Patti! By the way, the Louvre also has a fabulous gift shop. They not only discount catalogs from its previous expositions by up to 60% off their original cost, but also carries current and back issues of “albums de l’exposition” for a few bucks.

      A few years ago, just before a 5-k foot race, I found a 50 euro bill outside the Château de Vincennes in the Bois de Vincennes Guess where I spent it? Yes. The Louvre. It was the perfect day!! T.

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  7. Lovely photographs, and a Jean Seberg mention! I love the sound of the Musée national de la Marine, although I’ve suffered embarrassment in the past where JPG and retail are concerned.

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    • YES. I’m a big fan of Jean-Luc Godard’s “Breathless” flick! Maybe I’ll create a location post around it. So you have a JPG tale to tell? Do spill! T.

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  8. Oh, Theadora! You are une guide par excellence. I shan’t come to Paris again unless I can come with you. Your blog is almost as good as being there!

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    • MERCI. By the way, the striped nautical tops can be scored in the vintage clothing shops in the Marais. I’m also a big time fan of the iconic darlings. Wearing one makes me feel like Jean Seberg. Maybe it’s time not for bobbed haircut but a pixie-do! Enjoy the week! T.

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  9. Great photos and nice laidout here; love to read it. My favorite there was the musée des Arts Decoratifs at the pavillon Mansans, from where the palais des tuileries once was and a group me included are trying to rebuilt as it was. Versailles as you might know its my sentimental favorite and there the musée lambinet is great too.Joyeux Noêl

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    • Oui! Hands-down, the musée des Arts Decoratifs is one of my favorite museums! The Musée Lambinet history museum in Versailles is also a treasure! And speaking of Versailles, I enjoyed your recent nod to your “favorite royal town.” Fabulous tour with restaurant tips, to boot. Thank you! T.

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    • Thanks, Paul! I thoroughly enjoy spreading the word about the museums in Paris. I still need to the “Edward Hopper” exhibition at the Grand Palais! It looks wonderful, wonderful. T.

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    • Do you have a favorite Paris museum gift shop boutique? Any interesting scores during your recent jaunt? T. (The La pinacothèque de Paris at 28 Place de la Madeleine also has a funky gift shop! The exhibitions are also very interesting. Plus, l’épiceries Fauchon is next door!)

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  10. Great finds! I’ve only been to a couple, but I completely co-sign the Musée des Arts décoratifs. It was the perfect stop for some unique gifts for hard-to-buy-for friends, plus, I picked up a funny macaron necklace (yes, you read that right) for myself. I hope the holiday season is treating you well – cheers!

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    • Krista, you beat me to the punch! You scored a macaron necklace? Oh, RA RA. What color or colors? The Musée des Arts décoratifs IS a fabulous shop. You can’t beat its location. I buy a book or a rag, and then head to the nearby Tuileries for some much needed chill time. Happy Holidays to you!! T.

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  11. Oh Joy! Thy name is Theadora. Would that the Tin Man and I could skip down the yellow brick road to all these delicious treasure houses. Exhausted from our enjoyable excesses of shopping we sophisticated urbanites would raise our glasses of bubbly to our enchanting tour guide. V.

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    • YES. And then after our walking and walking and sips and sips of bubbly, we’ll drop our beloved ruby slippers off at Louboutin’s favorite “cordonnerie,” for a much-needed red resoling. What fun. Like designer Jean Paul Gaultier says, “Everything is beautiful if you think it is beautiful.” T. (Virginia, your French powder room is such a beauty! I love the redo.)

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  12. I love the “linen” look. Brings back memorie of my visit to Paris and the Museums. You truly captured the spirit of shopping for elegant and tasteful gifts. It reminds me that it is time for my Christmas visit to the MET.

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    • Thank you, Thom! YES. You have the gift shops at the MET and the Whitney. Lucky you! Green with jealousy. T. (I’ve been thoroughly enjoying your Holiday Window Series. Don’t Stop!!)

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  13. Like others, we really enjoy walking around Pris with you. Especailly at this time of year it bring some great memories. We have friends going to Paris this Christmas and we can tell them where to go shopping…especailyl Moveable Feast since they enjoy food and wine. Wish we could join them but we will keep reading your blog to stay close.

    Merci, Joyeux Noël, et Meilleurs vœux pour la nouvelle année…

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  14. I love the Rodin snow globe and the sound of Musée de la Poupée. They all sound so fun and unique. Which season do you enjoy the most in Paris or is it impossible to choose? I’m wondering because it looks so magical with the lights and the snow, so I’m starting to think winter might be the best. Or maybe it’s just that you make everything look so magical. Thank you for another fun tour!

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