While most are unlikely to stumble upon a car to take them to the 1920s, like in Midnight in Paris, Paris’s many museums offer a surprising number of portals to other places and times. Most of these are concentrated in the Musée des Arts Decoratifs, the Cité de l’Architecture et du Patrimoine and the Musée Carnavalet, though there’s also a surprising glimpse into the wilderness at the Musée de la Chasse et de la Nature… and Paris’s period rooms don’t just offer a tour of the past, but also an inquiry into the nature of display.
If you think a jewelry store should be bare and minimal for the gems to stand out on their own, then I strongly urge you to head over to the Musée Carnavalet, a former hôtel particulier in the Marais, which charts Paris’s history in more than 100 rooms, and march straight to the replica of jeweler Georges Fouquet’s shop. It will leave you convinced that a store like this, just like the jewelry it sells, can be the star of the show.
It was designed in 1901 by the Czech artist Alphonse Mucha, one of the leading names in Art Nouveau. Having already collaborated on jewelry pieces together, Fouquet asked Mucha to design all the interior and exterior decorations of his chic 6 rue Royale shop. And design he did!
Every inch of the shop is bound to bowl you over. The relief of a woman greets customers at the entrance, her arms and neck thrown back gracefully. The lightings, the showcase tables and the ceilings are all decorated in flowing lines, swirls and themes of flora. A majestic peacock sculpture is spread out against stained glass windows, and another one is perched close to the ceiling, surveying the shop.
The entire room is from the original store designed by Alphonse Mucha; Fouquet donated his rue Royale shop in its entirety to the museum, and it was reassembled as it was. It’s a small room brimming with colour and grandiose, a completely preserved Belle Epoque work of art housed in one of the most interesting yet rather underrated museums in Paris.
And while you’re already there, take in all the Paris richness Musée Carnavalet has to offer: paintings and objects from the French Revolution, prehistoric canoes, scale model of Guillotines, a room filled with the original furniture of Café de Paris, and the famous cork-lined bedroom of Marcel Proust.
23 rue de Sévigné, 75003
Metro: line 1 (Saint Paul), line 8 (Chemin Vert)