There are paint shops and there is Sennelier. Founded in 1887 by Gustave Sennelier, a skilled draftsman and illustrator with a passion for chemistry, the boutique, located on Paris’s Quai Voltaire, sold paints produced by Sennelier himself. The shop owner took input from his patrons, who happened to include Degas, Gauguin, and Soutine, and would come up with new colors to suit their needs. Then there was Picasso, who asked Sennelier to make him a new medium that could be used on any surface. A year later, oil pastels were born. The store, one of 19 featured in a new book by Marin Montagut that celebrates Paris’s most timeless shops and boutiques, still makes them today.
Among the other locations selected by Montagut, whose eponymous boutique is located in the Sixth Arrondissement, are the antique shops Soubrier and Yveline, whose entrances alone are enough to charm any visitor; the Graineterie du Marché, home to every possible French jam, grain, and herb; the Herboristerie de la Place Clichy, which quickly puts New York’s Bigelow to shame; and Ultramod, the oldest mercerie in Paris, complete with buttons, threads, and ribbons galore. “All of these monuments,” Montagut writes, “are dedicated to preserving the soul of Paris.” Its magic, too. —Julia Vitale