Paris: 6 Favorite Museum Gift Shop Boutiques
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.
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.
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
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.
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
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.
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
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.
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!”