2019 seems like it was eons ago, not just last year. Stationery and material things don’t seem so important right now as we continue to face this pandemic. I hope you’re well, and that it might be cheerful to hear about a bona fide stationery destination.
I’d like to write about a remarkable street that I visited twice last year. I had heard about it from multiple sources, though I wasn’t sure what to expect.
Rue du Pont Louis-Philippe is a small street in the historic Le Marais neighborhood of the Paris’s 4th district. It runs north from Pont Louis Phillipe, a bridge from the charming Ile Saint-Louis. (Very close to Shakespeare and Co. and the Notre Dame cathedral.) A brief walk along the street will take one directly to the Picasso Museum. Ile Saint-Loius, the smaller of the two islands in the Seine, has beautiful views and is very nicely preserved.
I don’t know the whole history, but the street is often noted as a stationery location, with Calligrane (no. 6), Papier Plus (No. 9), and Melodies Graphiques (No. 10) having storefronts. Melodies Graphiques in fact has two storefonts, so depending on how you count – there are three or four stationers on this single block. These stores all date from the 1970s or 1980s, so their presence is established.
Calligrane – No. 6
In the order one will see them walking northward – the first stop is Calligrane. It is well beyond offering office supplies. Calligrane is an incredible temple to the art of paper. There is nothing mass manufactured or branded in their store. Everything is a visual delight, all hand made by artisans (mainly French or Japanese) with high quality materials. They have loose paper, from business card size to A2 or larger formats for artists. They have some notebooks, though I would not say that is their specialty. They sell paper for writing and art, and paper objects which are themselves art forms.
Founded in 1979, I would say that this a global stationery destination worth a special visit. I found it to be a very satisfying experience.
Next is Melodies Graphique. They are a traditional stationer with an emphasis on calligraphy and handwriting. They have vintage school essay books, and a comprehensive nib and ink section. I saw a delightful Herbin notebook which starts the pupil with a sample letter to be copied. They have an adjacent second storefront devoted to wrapping paper and decorative items.
If you like vintage ink bottles, nibs, and highly traditional stationery emphasis, this store is a bit of heaven. They have an adjacent second storefront with an emphasis on wrapping paper and cards. They were founded in 1986.
Melodies Graphiques – No. 10
If you know the elite brand Soumkine – this is (or was at the time of my visit) Soumkine’s sole retailer in the entire world!
Melodies Graphiques – additional storefront
On the other side of the street is Papier Plus. It is the only store that I noticed having significantly changed between May and November, diminishing the presence of global brands. They do still stock some mass appeal brands (e.g. Lamy) but their emphasis is on their own paper/notebook and photo album brand, and products from boutique Paris artisans. If you like swatches of colour, they have many of their notebooks in over two dozen colour choices. They date from 1976.
Papier Plus – No. 9
Overall, it was a special pleasure to visit these three exceptional stationery boutiques on the same street, and recommend a visit. There are multiple places in Paris where one can find typical arrays of commercial stationery, but the emphasis of these shops on local and artisan created products was particularly distinctive.
I was enroute to another destination, so I didn’t want to overfill my suitcase. But, I did pick up a few very special items.
From Calligrane, a hand bound accordion album. Unfortunately it is currently residing in my too nice to use archive.
From Papier Plus, an Armorial gold edged pad. Incredibly nice!
From Melodies Graphiques, a Soumkine notebook:
I hope you enjoyed this mini tour.