“Maison” is of course the French word for house. A house is a building where you live in. Yet, it also has a historical meaning in our language. It refers to a business. “Je suis de la maison depuis longtemps” means I have been working in this place for a long time. In these circumstances, it refers to historical retails. The three I will mention are either very well-knowns or very original and they are all located in Paris .
La Maison Fauchon is one of the oldest brands in Paris and its original store is on Place de la Madeleine. The first store opened in 1886 in La Madeleine, the bakery and pastry store in 1895 and the iconic restaurant / tea rooms in 1898 in the same location. It became one of the most fashionable places in Paris. In 1900, La Maison Fauchon opened a store in rue de la Comète selling the best crus from France and other wines from around the world. After Auguste Fauchon died in 1945, his children took over and continued expanding the business.
The brand was later acquired by Joseph Pilosoff, a Bulgarian industrialist who entered into a prestigious partnership with Air France in 1952 to import and sell produce from around the world. In 1972, the brand began expanding abroad, initially in Japan. In the 1990s, new stores were opened in Qatar, Korea and Egypt. In 2004, Michel Ducros, the former chairman of La Maison Ducros, steered Fauchon out of financial difficulties and launched a modernisation programme. This included a total redesign of the store in La Madeleine by Christian Biecher. The Fauchon brand continued diversifying and expanding abroad. In 2010, Fauchon outlets were opened in the Paris and Nice Côte d’Azur airports. Fauchon’s latest project is running a five-star hotel on Place de la Madeleine, financed by the Qatar National Bank, where it continues promoting the French art de vivre. Feel free to take a stroll around the iconic stores while you are in Paris.
26 Place de la Madeleine
La Maison Deyrolle is one of the most curious places in Paris. Created in 1831 by Jean-Baptiste Deyrolle and his son Jean-Baptiste, both passionate about entomology (the study of insects), they quickly specialised in the sale of insects, hunting paraphernalia and taxidermy. Jean-Baptiste’s grandson, Émile, took over in 1866 and rose to international renown at a time when there was great enthusiasm for natural history. It was also thanks to Émile that the company began publishing educational material and specialist publications on flora and fauna.
After its early beginnings on the Right Bank where he created immense workshops for carpentry, taxidermy and glassware in rue Chanez in Auteuil, in 1888 Émile Deyrolle set up his offices and shop at 46 rue du Bac, in a former mansion house belonging to Samuel Bernard (the son of Louis XIV’s banker). The company’s aim was to remain primarily educational. In addition to scientific material, taxidermy and osteology items, school furniture and wallcharts supplied to schools and universities all over France, Deyrolle also published many specialised works. Over the course of the next century, the company maintained its reputation and attracted many passionate naturalists and collectors. Several painters and writers (Dali, Nabokov, Louise de Vilmorin, etc.) often visited in the course of their work or to find new sources of inspiration. The company struggled a little in the second half of the 20th century, until Louis Albert de Broglie took over the reins in 2001.
With the help of Dominique Guéroult and the rest of the team, he restored the boutique museum and took it back to its roots. He launched major renovation work, while upholding the company’s founding aim. The educational aspect was strengthened with the reproduction and sale of old wallcharts and the collections were entirely rebuilt. Unfortunately, on 1 February 2008, a fire started in the entomology offices which destroyed more than 90% of the entomological collections and furniture. But thanks to the support of artists, journalists, businesses and publishers, the company and its collections were once more restored, renovated and revitalised. Today, 46 rue du Bac is an exceptional exhibition and acquisition venue which attracts visitors from around the world. A genuine cabinet of curiosities, it allows the public to discover and observe the unexpected marvels of the natural world. In addition, partnerships with publishers and artists (the reception area hosts several exhibitions), continue to develop.
46 Rue du bac
1821: Louis Vuitton was born in the Franche-Comté region in Eastern France. After learning the trunk-making trade, Vuitton founded his own business in 1854 near the Place Vendôme. The company’s burgeoning activity prompted Vuitton to move with his wife to Asnières-sur-Seine. They moved the workshop there and the Vuittons built a home. Hauts-de-Seine would become both the symbol and stronghold of the Vuitton Family. The family’s former home now houses the Louis Vuitton Museum.
Encouraged by his son Georges, Louis developed the family business abroad. Shops were soon opened in London and New York, followed by Philadelphia. When Louis Vuitton died in 1892, Georges Vuitton took the helm and continued his father’s remarkable work. In particular we have him to thank for the famous LV monogram canvas, which he created in 1896. The Vuitton family line continued for three more generations, keeping the legend alive and developing the firm to the point where it became a multinational company. In 1987, Louis Vuitton merged with Moët Hennessy to create the world’s leading luxury group: LVMH. But the Vuitton house has also gone through darker times. During the Second World War, some members of the Vuitton Family were supporters of Marshal Pétain’s Vichy regime or even had close links to the Gestapo, while others were on the side of the French Resistance. This weakened the Vuitton Family. During the period from 1989 to 1990, the Vuitton Family was ousted and Bernard Arnault took control of the company, a controversial turn of events.
The Louis Vuitton story is not a fairy tale, but there is no denying that the company has played a prominent role in the world of luxury goods. Its aura and innovations over the years (secure locks, ingenious storage compartments and new canvas designs) have made it a key player in the luxury industry.
Maison Louis Vuitton
101, avenue des Champs-Élysées
Didier Moinel Delalande is a Director at Hotel Mathurin.