Secret Paris, timeless Paris, if you know where to look there are treasures to be discovered. There are ancient books shops, the quirky boutiques, studios and artisans workshops that are like stepping into the past. Maison Soubrier, in Rue de Reuilly, near the Sorbonne University in the heart of Paris is antiques store that’s like no other. Filled with glorious antiques, its more like a museum, except everything there is for rent…
Maison Soubrier has been owned by the same family for over two hundred years. The firm originally produced period furniture, before moving into antique dealing. Louis Soubrier, the current owner, spent years visiting auction houses to indulge his passion for historic furnishings and beautiful objects, which he then sold to a few fortunate clients. He vividly recalls one of his all-time favourites: an imposing bronze aquamanile – a water ewer or jug, often in the shape of an animal – dating from the Renaissance, which was extremely rare and far too costly to purchase. He was given a second chance to buy it a few years later, as its age had been reassessed downward, along with its price.
A Paris secret
In recent years, the firm has focused exclusively on rentals. This extraordinary destination is a well-kept secret that’s open only to the trade, and attracts professional designers, decorators, and stylists from film, theatre, and television. Once past its portals, the visitor enters a courtyard and encounters two marble sphinxes flanking the entrance. Inside, an antique elevator panelled with original wainscoting, which dates back to 1900, moves between the three floors at a stately pace.
The unparalleled collection extends over 32,000 square feet (3,000 m2). It is meticulously organized by category, and everything on show is available for rent, from a Napoleon III-era presidential desk from the Élysée Palace, to an immense baroque mirror decorated with horns, or a copper deep-sea diver’s helmet; curiously, the most frequently borrowed piece in the catalogue is a 1920s cheval glass (full-length mirror). This accumulation of antique furniture, paintings, and objects—reminiscent of a vast cabinet of curiosities—is imbued with an indefinable scent that mingles dust, polished wood, and old documents, calling to mind the attic of a charming provincial home.
Extracted from: Timeless Paris: Ateliers, Emporiums, Savoir Faire, by Marin Montagut, Flammarion 2021, a gorgeous book about the treasure troves of Paris…